Icon Photo - Adam Delorme. Snapped from https://vimeo.com/81485243
I think all of us are in agreement when I say skiing is the greatest sport around. If you don’t agree, you’re wrong. But what makes it such an ample pastime? It’s fun, healthy, rewarding and is an excellent outlet for stress and lifts burdens from the mind. But other sports have these benefits too. So why does skiing reign above them like a god over mortal men, with an iron fist and ridiculously long T Shirt?
Make it Reign
Something that skiing really brings to the table is its ability to quench a thirst for adventure. I remember when I was a young lad in my first couple of seasons and had just gotten comfortable with skiing around the mountain. When you don't know where in hell you are going, it is a damn adventure. I can still remember following some back catwalk surrounded by tall swaying pines in the dim gray light of a snowy day. Feeling like one of the great explorers of old, when the world was still relatively unknown. My skis were Sacagawea nursing her infant son as she led the expedition across the rugged terrain of the untamed west. The ability to take your skis anywhere you wish is an unrivaled privilege. Sail them through a breath taking back bowl and then lead them to battle through the park. Hike up to a bald spot and ski some highly avalanche prone powder unequal to anything else on the mountain. Take them further even and trek up to some uncharted peak and do a line no person may have ever skied before. Heck I remember, not long after I got started, hurling Sacagawea and her infant over cliffs and thrashing them against hand rails. It's a beautiful thing.
With all of those options how can you get bored? The variety offered every day by skiing keeps you coming back for more. The setting of the sport is, by its very nature, variable. The conditions, the terrain, the place, time, moment, are so dynamic that every day is an original. By the time you even begin to delve into all the possibilities the entire landscape could have changed. Unless you live in California, the snow has fallen and your favorite run that you were growing tired of has suddenly become your G spot, and there is nowhere else you'd rather be. Closely trailing the snow onslaught of the mid-season comes the much anticipated 65 degree spring skiing. Cruisin', boozin', flying through the park in a T-shirt and spraying chicks in bikinis. What sport can compete with that?
The flagship trait of Freeskiing is creativity. The entire sport is held up on this firm foundation and is part of what makes it so compelling and progressive. To be creative is to be innovative. Creativity is the catalyst in the evolution from sliding down a hill to the climactic battle that is soon to be waged in the streets of Sochi and the reason you can hit the slopes day in and day out and still hunger for more.
Creativity also plays a huge role in another epic draw to skiing; the unhindered progression by all the individuals that take part in the sport. Everyone has their own unique styles and skillsets that bring a fresh flair to skiing every single day. The collective creativity possessed by all the members of the sport from the pros to the Joe's set skiing up for raging possibilities in the future. How can you find disinterest in a sport that is so progressive and alive that it's very structure is up for grabs?
Another outstanding quality skiing possesses is the stage in which it takes place. Sure, you have exclusive courses in the upper echelons of the sport like X-games, but the majority of the professional stage takes place in contiguous unity with all the rest of us ordinary folk. The athletes we look up to hit the same features that we all have equal access too. I can't think of any other sports where the things that inspire you unfold in the very same arena you find yourself every day.
Skiing is a very personal sport, the heart of which lies somewhere between your soul and your skis. In its very essence it promotes individualism but, does so within a community. Everyone loves absolutely stomping their sickest trick in full view of a packed chairlift and in doing so boasting their individualism. As badass as you think it was, it may have been almost meaningless if you didn't have your whole crew there to capture the moment. That's the other profound thing. We call our teammates brothers and sisters and our team is our family. They are an incredible support system made up of all the best people you can surround yourself with. You work together, play together, learn, laugh and suffer together. And at the end of the day no one places blame on another and you can trust they got your back on the mountain and off. If you can't relate to this paragraph then you're an orphan skier and you need to find a family, because that's what it's all about.
Sometimes I look back and wonder who I would be now if I had never found skiing. Not if I would have started skateboarding or twerking but who I've actually become. Skiing has taught me so many lessons that I apply to my everyday life. I found that when I put in hard work and time skiing always gives back to me. Not to leave out invaluable things like discipline and persistence. How it feels to achieve a personal goal so that I'm willing to conquer another. Knowing when to sack up, shut up, clear your mind and just go for something but identify when the risk isn't worth the reward. Or learning how it feels to be on top, and then being absolutely humbled. You may not have even noticed before, but lessons like these have shaped who you are. Some of these lessons or specific attributes of them I feel are endemic to skiing, though some will always be learned in one fashion or another. Sometimes the way you learn something and the way it becomes engrained in your mind shapes your personality. Eating your shit in front of that girl you brought with teaches you not to be a dick-head showoff every moment, though some lessons will never truly be learned. Stomped tricks get chicks, high five!
Skiing stands out in the crowd for a myriad of other reasons. The sheer amount of speed and amplitude achieved goes almost unrivaled (yeah okay, motorsports you smart asses). Not to mention the pristine locales, the wonderful people and just the all-around good vibe atmosphere. This, on top of the comradery and adventure, the abundance of variety and constant progression that is egged on by your creative minds leads us to endless possibilities. Skiing is a beautiful thing. It's the ability to express yourself without chains. It is a fully open source sport ripe for hacking, there are no rules. It wants you to have your way with it. That is the power of not being shackled to a set of rules or guidelines, a specific field or track or a skate park because the city posts those daunting "no skateboarding" signs. We are all so very blessed.
New school skiing; we conquered the terrain and concepts from the snowboarders and took it higher than any of our squatting, waddling, duck foot (no hate) counterparts ever could have.
So come on guys, let the feels flow. What does skiing mean to you? Dig deep and comment.