Does it ever strike you fellow ski and snowboard lovers that these snowsports are just straight up weird? Who thought this whole idea up? Let’s go out into the cold, deep snow, the deeper the better, haul ourselves to the highest point we can find, strap on long boards to our frozen feet and then hurl ourselves down the hill, dodging trees, rocks, bushes and the occasional moose. Sounds like such a great idea. Sign me up.
Even weirder, this brilliant idea took off! There are millions of us who make skiing and snowboarding a top priority. So much so that we live in a small little hamlet called Steamboat, where we piece it together in order to be right next to the ski mountain. So much so that families save up all their pennies for their big ski holiday. So much so that we go skiing in all our free time, overcome injuries, ignore household chores and drag our slightly skeptical families up there with us until they are equally in love with this craziness. WEIRD.
Yet I love it. It makes me feel so alive, like almost nothing else I do in life. This season is off to an amazing start. The mountain opened with plenty of acreage, awesome groomer skiing to wake up our mountaintop minds. Then wha-bam! Powder days are here again Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The ropes just kept dropping, the friends with their snowy beards or pink frozen cheeks just keep coming out of the woods, and the favorite lines were rediscovered — Three O’Clock all the way down, Dougie’s powderstash on the left side of One O’Clock, Sideburns, Centerfield, right side of Whiteout, Sundown Lift Line — and all by Dec. 13. And all of a sudden, this sport makes the most sense in the world. It was truly the best idea anyone ever had in the history of ideas.
We were like kids in a candy store getting out of the gondola today. Even after three big days of skiing, everyone is still itching to get out there, exhilarated by the wind whistling through the windows of the gondola, signaling the storms blowing in with yet again more snow. I skied the most perfect groomer ever this morning on Vagabond. There was more perfect groom on Storm Peak Face, Sunset and Rainbow. And then I chose to beat myself up on Vertigo, working my knees around the bumps, dodging willows and baby pines, careening over summer trails cutting through the middle of the run. It wasn’t pretty.
But as I looked back up at the run, I loved putting myself through that in order to get in shape and get stronger. I realized we like skiing specifically because it’s out there. It is weird, and we are all in it together. We are all playing and pushing ourselves, looking out for each other and smiling, making friends with strangers at the bottom because we love this sport — frozen noses, sore muscles, suffering chore lists and all. Maybe most of you don’t get distracted by the inherent weirdness that is the sport of skiing. And I don’t spend too much time wallowing in it, truly. Just occasionally when I stand at the top of another perfect run, taking a crisp deep breath, do I marvel at the fact that we all rally to get out in it. Thank goodness for the weirdo who thought it all up.
Happy Monday skiers and riders.
Ali Givnish, Alpine skier