From the ski turner’s journal
Ten years ago this winter, in Ketchum, Idaho, I was living a ski bum’s existence. It turned out to be an epic season by Sun Valley standards, with weekly installments of dumplings clear through the May 5-ish close. Then the next season, 1995-96, set another benchmark and my season became just another also-ran.But, for me, it’s never been just about the accumulation of inches. The oddities, absolutes and Pineapple Expresses of this life – and, sure, its relation to inch-counts – are more interesting. It’s about perception, too. You see, it’s only as good as you think it is. “It’s all about pre-anticipation and momentum management.” This from Andy Brucker, an air tanker pilot, or slurry bomber, who fights forest fires. He was talking about flying air-tankers in hot, dicey conditions, but I could’ve sworn he was talking about skiing. “The old savage who wanted more than anything else in the world to jump from an airplane and float down to earth in a parachute. ‘Alla same fella bird!’ he used to shout, ecstatically, until one day we took him up and shoved him out. Ever afterward he walked in silence among the black men, a soul apart, like one who had discovered things best hidden from humanity.” That’s from James A. Michener’s “Tales of the South Pacific,” published in 1946, and one of the reasons I don’t typically push anyone over any edges. “Breakthroughs appear only when we stop thinking. This nonthinking, spontaneous state in which we let ourselves float in the experience of the moment is what we call ‘skiing out of your mind.’ But like being in love, as soon as we start thinking about how to keep ourselves in this ecstatic state, we lose it. Methodically we then set out to regain our lost sense of mastery by working on our technique, item by item. But the thrill is gone; we are back in the mind.” That’s from a really lame book published in 1977 called “Inner Skiing” by Timothy Gallwey and Bob Kriegel. Don’t sweat it as much as these dudes, and you’ll be fine.
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