January 7, 2007
Aspen, CO Colorado
The first time I skied with my brother-in-law, Mike, I was worried.
He wore bib overalls and an oversized jacket, and his idea of alpine technique was that 1980s Devo-style ” lean back, glue the ankles together, wiggle the butt to make the skis slide sideways, and punctuate turns with exaggerated, slapping pole plants.
When he hit challenging terrain, he reverted from Devo to a simian slump, bent deeply, skis set wide and hands at his ankles. He skied fast and was a danger to himself and others.
But Mike had one thing going for him: moxie. The guy didn’t know the words “stop” or “shame,” and he showed his colors on a deadly mogul run that first day.
The mountain seemed to have something against him, the moguls wrenched the equipment off his body and pushed him to the ground time and again. But he’d just stand up, smile and charge in for more.
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I remember suggesting an intermediate run. “No, no. Let’s do moguls just one more time,” he said. “And tell me again how you can point your skis straight through the bumps without losing control.”
Willingness with a mild penchant for self-abuse, Mike’s moxie has served him well.
He and my sister make regular road trips from their home in Cleveland to Colorado, and as their family has grown, they carry on the pilgrimage in a big minivan instead of the Nissan compact.
Today, Mike rips. He can get down just about anything without a hint of the gorilla or the Devo. And while time has wrung some of the unbreakable out of him ” he’ll take that run on the intermediate slope nowadays ” the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.
Franny, 2, is too little to ski, but is determined in just about everything else. Katie, 6, hits it with alternating pizza and french fries and skis it all. Johnny, 8, doesn’t know fear. And Patrick, 10, can’t get enough of one thing: tree skiing!
When the whole fam hit the slopes of Winter Park last week, we split up into groups and I joined young Patrick and Mike in the quest for the ultimate glade.
We took turns leading, slaloming through precarious stands of trees. I had an embarrassing fall in a tree well, and the trees started grabbing us as Mike and I ran out of energy, but Patrick begged for the proverbial “just one more run.”
Mike’s moxie lives on.