Chairlift Conversations

I don't think that's Stratton, but whatever

I don't think that's Stratton, but whatever



Random Observation/Comment #116: I am a skier (although I think snowboarding is much cooler and more stylish).  I’ve tried snowboarding four or five years ago, but I distinctly remember a cold and sore butt by the end of the day.  At the time I was quite young and physically able to bounce back to my feet after every fall.  There was no frustration or embarrassment in my motions.  My body just followed its course of learning, and knew no limits.  However, my slow learning curve and lack of fun with this weird stance made me stray from its temptations.  Oddly, I’ve never gone back to try it because I rather have fun slicing through the air with the wind lifting my ridiculously long hat behind me like a trail of blur.  This seems to be much more fun than falling every three seconds and eating snow.  This choice made me think about my will to try new things; that of which I ruled out from my list of activities at a young age.  If I replaced skiing and snowboarding with rollerblades and skateboards, would it make a difference?  What if I replaced it with swimming freestyle and swimming breast strokes?  Bass and Harpoon for the “tan”? Coke and Pepsi? Ipods and Zunes?  My past experiences have given me a terrible bias on products, and maybe all of this should be revisited with a finer comb.  I might be choosing one over another because I don’t want to take the time to experience new things, which sounds like a limiting experience.  This completely opposes my philosophy of introducing entropy and randomness into everyday routines.  Is it that different from trying a new place to eat or drinking a different beer?  Both new and old will satisfy my needs and provide different experiences, albeit, the learning curve does make a difference (that’s like someone eating with chopsticks when they’re used to sporks) but I feel like many of these old assumptions require some reevaluation.

Stratton is a beautiful mountain with (in my opinion) the best packed snow and exhilarating trails in the East.  Last weekend, we skied/snowboarded for two-and-a-half days with the best conditions imaginable.  There were a few complaints about the visibility and falling snow freezing on our bare faces, but the few inches of fresh powder every hour made the frozen chairlift worth it.  Looking out from those tinted goggles, there was not a soul on those trails.  I’m exaggerating, of course, but the mountain was the most empty I’ve seen it (can something be more empty than something else?).  Regardless, it was the best skiing I’ve had in ten years.

It snowed Friday to Sunday afternoon, and we were there on the slopes like it was our job.  Student discounts on weekdays sold chairlift tickets for $42.  Weekends, on the other hand, require full-price tickets of $75.  I suspect that our poor economy convinced the novice skiers and cabin fever, hot-chocolate-by-the-crackling-fire families to choose another vacation spot.  It might have been the snow storms on the mountains, but there’s nothing like the feeling (or lack of feeling) of 30 mph snowflakes hitting your numb, exposed cheeks.  Every article of clothing that tried to keep me warm became a rigid frost generator.  The small gap between my goggles and my nose attracted every floating ice particle into my eyes.  I sat there on that chairlift wiggling my fingers and toes to maintain circulation, but I was already convinced I had pleased my last girl and curled my last toes in ecstasy (haha, best way to use them).

My mind was bombarded with thoughts of hot chocolate, crackling fires, and mashed potatoes every time that bench hoisted me in the air.  Substituting those freezing moments with thoughts of being somewhere else was the only way to prevent shivers.  With this reoccurring feeling, I wondered if this elitist sport was worth the effort.  It takes about 10 minutes to reach the top of the mountain and approximately 7 minutes to come down.  Well, actually no discussion is necessary – totally worth it.  If you’re one of those people who hate the cold and rather stay inside drinking a deuce-deuce of Newgie Brown, more power to you.  I will enjoy that after my 6 hours.

That chairlift cold feeling escapes me while I’m falling down the mountain on planks of plastic attached to my boots.  I wonder who came up with skiing and snowboarding.  I bet it was a guy because only guys would be stupid enough to think that tying boards to their feet and sliding down a hill would be a favorite pastime.  Anyway, flying downhill, the adrenaline of weaving between young children and beginners keeps me energized.  Granted, I’m praying, “Please don’t kill anyone, especially me” the whole way down, but this is part of the fun.  Reckless would be an understatement of my skiing presence on the slopes.  I think my skiing is comparable to an old, Chinese woman driving a drag car with minimal brakes.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m in control most of the time and I have been skiing for 10 years, but simply put, I am a hazard.  They should probably force me to wear orange with reflective stripes and a horn attached to my ski poles so everyone would know to avoid me.  Maybe I should just hold a black-light flashlight (awesome) and make siren noises all the way down (engineering creative thinking skills at work).

If I weren’t skiing with friends that bomb their way through the powder, I would have focused more on improving my technique.  I always wonder how I look while skiing down the mountain.  Most chairlift conversations involve pointing at skiers and snowboarders coming down the trails for fair comparison.  I have an idea of how I look, but I’m not sure where I need improvement.  Next time we should rent some heavy duty camcorders to get some footage.  Actually, this would probably make a great business on the slopes.  Pay the instructors money to record digital footage and put it on a DVD when you’re done.  Brilliant!  Someone make it happen.

~See Lemons Ski