Marolt: Avoiding the prick of a 100-day pin
September 25, 2018
I don't want to ski 100 days this season. I don't want artificial knees. I don't want rotator cuff surgery. I don't want to walk any more like a hunched over old man than I do already. This is all related.
I am a ski nut who chose San Diego for college. It's not as stupid as it sounds. Be that as it may, I came home Christmas break and skied every day, all day, four weeks straight, freshman through senior years.
The longing for my mountains, the craving for carving, the urgency of getting in as much as I possibly could during those precious snowy weeks resulted in some of the best times I have ever enjoyed on skis, and I trashed my body along the way.
Over the course of what was, cumulatively, four months of skiing during those years, I grew bone spurs the size of golf balls on my heels. Each successive year I had to get new boots a half size larger. By the time I graduated, I could not wear dress shoes and went to job interviews wearing Adidas shower sandals with my suit. It worked out. The sandals and lumps under my socks were conversation starters and allowed me to present myself as an adventuresome type. The surgery to remove them was straightforward.
My skiing friends were as eager as I. We were among the first on the lift every morning and got some of the last rides up every afternoon. That sounds cliche, but it's not if you actually do it. It was our routine. It wasn't once in a while to be novel or to snap a shot of a sunset to post on Instagram someday after it would be invented. We made it critical to our mission.
We believed we had a limited number of days to ski in our lives, which technically is inarguable, and to use any of that time doing anything else elevated wasting time to criminal offense. We made merciless fun of those who cut out early or showed up late. There was no excuse.
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It was like a marriage with Aspen Mountain. We were there to love and cherish it, for better and for worse, in sickness and in health, over our dead bodies would we give it up, so help us Ullr. Bad conditions didn't deter us. We never checked the weather forecast or grooming report. We didn't follow the sun to the soft snow. Not rain nor ice nor rocks kept us off the steep stuff. We coined the phrase "ski the crud or be a cruddy skier" and dropped it in the slot machine of random conditions like the gambling addicts on snow we were.
Being young when you catch the skiing bug is a great blessing and a crippling curse. Youthful exuberance and supple, strong bodies allow you to go hard all day and faster and faster with every turn. We took chances and put a lot of air between the bases of our skis and the slopes every chance that presented itself. We tried to hit moguls with enough force to explode them into face shots. When we crashed, it was a spectacle of sight and sound.
It all hurt. Each morning began with stiff, sore limps up the street to Lift 1A. We hiked up there to begin the process of loosening our joints. The first run was always a cruiser to continue encouraging our muscles to work properly again. When you are young, you can do this. Warming up is only a process of getting the adrenal glands to open up and mask pain. We would oftentimes ask things like, "Are your knees numb yet?"
It's like any memory — we enhance the fun and forget the pain. With enough time, the fun always gets super-sized. But like the diet soda you wash your fries down with, there is bitterness in the aftertaste and a waxy coating on the teeth. It makes you crave a fresh vegetable.
This is why I am not going to give in to the temptation of gulping the XL Thirst Annihilator serving of ski season when a regular size will do. While the cost per ounce is cheaper with the one big one, the overall price is exorbitant. Just as the extra patty of hamburger adds girth to the waist, additional days on the slope will swell my knees with new scar tissue. I don't want to feel stuffed come April. Leaving the season satisfied or even a little hungry is my paleo diet for a longer ski life. Trim the fat. All I want is the meat.
Roger Marolt hopes keeping the pin off his lapel will keep them out of his knees. Email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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