Learning to Fly

Posted: January 6, 2012 in Uncategorized
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I like skiing. A lot, actually.

There’s a simplicity to skiing that I really and truly enjoy. The whole point of the sport is to slide down the hill until you run out of hill. It sounds simple enough when you put it like that, of course, but in reality it’s far more complex. Since I haven’t skied for… five years before this season, I’m basically limited to groomed runs, more specifically the kind where you have to avoid small children sitting in the middle of the run and crying. But when I get better…

I’m already fantasizing about what I’m going to be like when I get better. My mind is filled with images of open bowls filled with deep powder; steep, rock-walled chutes where you can do nothing but go inexorably forward lest you be crushed against the sides; wide backcountry peaks, where I can weave in and out of trees as I fly down the mountain; cornices that drop down onto long mogul-filled ridgelines… It’s incredible.

Because that’s the thing about skiing. To the non-skier, everything looks pretty much the same. Yeah, there are runs that are steeper than others, but when you look at the mountain from below, everything looks similar. But to ski on powder takes a completely different skill set than skiing on ice, which is again totally different from mogul skiing.

Today I went on my first intermediate run in years. It was hard– a lot faster and steeper than the run I’d been practicing on since Christmas, with ice patches and sudden steep parts that kept me on my toes. But it was fun– the most fun skiing that I’d had in a long time. I didn’t do that great, but at least I had enough practice that I didn’t power-wedge my whole way down. I got a good head of speed, and at the point where the run merged with the bunny slopes, I was flying– and the wind blew in my face, and I braked to a stop at the base of the mountain, skidding thirty feet and kicking up whatever meager powder was left there. It was an adrenaline rush– and I don’t mean that in a metaphorical sense. My body practically pulsed as I got on the chairlift to head back up.

I have a long way to go before I’m as good as I was. But even so, I feel like I can make it back onto the black diamond runs by the end of the season. And after that… who knows?

I’ll show my readers (all five of you guys!) some pictures from this trip after it’s done. I’m heading back to Santa Cruz on Sunday, and then it’s going to be all linguistics and dining hall food again. But right now, I’m on top of the world, and it’s incredible.

~ Ian


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