The other day, my son asked me about skiing. No stranger to the endeavor himself, he asked me why I like to ski.
Big question. At first, I was hard-pressed to answer. I spent a few moments letting my mind wander and tried to come up with an answer a 6-year-old would understand.
I went from thinking about big explanations of the mountain lifestyle and being free and a whole host of other things, and finally, as his patience was wearing a little thin, I simply said, “I ski because it’s fun.”
And that’s really it, isn’t it? We ski because it’s fun. Pure and simple.
Like playing with Legos or mucking about in the woods as a child, we ski because we like it.
It’s got all the attributes of what we liked to do as kids: We get to go really fast if we want, we can feel the wind in our faces, enjoy the bliss of leaving everything behind and we can push things just enough to feel like we should be in trouble.
I remember a short ski film I saw years ago, and while my memory is a tad foggy on exactly what was said, one of the athletes, a renowned extreme skier of the time, described “extreme” skiing as something anyone could do, just as long as you were pushing yourself a little.
Whether it was skiing a black run for the first time, dropping into some unnamed couloir in the backcountry or strapping on skis as a novice, all of those things qualify as your personal “extreme” skiing experience.
Skiing has never been something I’ve wanted to conquer. Unlike climbing, surfing or riding bikes, skiing has always been something I just do — like walking or breathing.
It’s been a part of my life for as long as I can remember.
It’s always been a place where going a little faster or a little steeper has been a pursuit of joy instead of a pursuit of mastery. I see that everywhere.
From Eastern folks skiing pow for the first time to older skiers enjoying spring groomers and on-hill picnics, skiing offers all of us the chance to get away from our lives and enjoy a freedom from stress seldom found in anything else.
How could you ever be cranky when you’re on your skis?
I love every aspect of skiing: cold days and warm days, stormy days in the trees, sunny days on bulletproof groomers.
All of them offer something I don’t get anywhere else in my life. Epic, deep days are just a bonus, there to fuel our addiction to skiing on snow.
This winter, when you’re out there getting your fill, take a moment to think about what’s around you and why strapping two bits of wood to your feet is fun.
When we ski, everything else in life seems to just wander away, and all that’s left is having fun. In a world so often defined by suffering, those of us that get to ski are truly the lucky ones.
Be safe, ski hard.
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