Truth or fiction: You make the call
March 31, 2002
I may hang up my skis for good this year. I know, I said the same thing when the snowboarders began to take over the slopes. And I am not going to rehash all the old arguments (I felt threatened, insulted, betrayed, angry, pissed off, and otherwise upset). But I’m easy. I adjusted.
However, next year will push the limits. The lugers will hit the slopes. For those of you who copped out of the sport after the boarders, I should explain what a luger is.
A luger is a modification of the Olympic vehicle called a luge used in downhill racing. The Olympic luge is a small, two-runner sled that an insane person rests on in a prone position and hurtles down through an icy chute in a competition to beat the time of other luge lunatics, or to crash and be more seriously injured then other luge losers. This established sport is ridiculous to begin with.
But when the luge evolved into the luger (not to be confused with the German pistol), it became preposterous. Luger is pronounced with a hard “g” as in gunk. In contrast, the “g” in luge sounds like a “j” as in junk.
The term luger refers to the apparatus, whereas the rider of the luger is called a lugie. (It is only coincidental that the term “lugie” is also slang for the gob of mucus expectorated from the mouth in distress or disgust, a coincidence not lost to critics of lugering.)
The luger has three runners, referred to as right, left and center. The center runner is lower than the runners on either side. The perfectly balanced luger is riding on the center runner alone, but turns are made on left/center or right/center runners.
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The only time all three runners touch the snow is when the luger enters the sleuce, a scooped-out channel apparatus designed to accelerate the luger and spit it out into space.
The lugie can mount the luger in several ways. The platform or top of the luger is completely covered in male Velcro (mini-hooks), whereas the luger suit and boots are completely covered in female Velcro (mini-loops). Consequently the lugie can adhere to the luger in a variety of positions.
Since male and female Velcros are critical to luger/lugie relations, lugies refer to the various techniques of luger mounting as “love” positions. For example, belly down on the luger is the “traditional” mount, kneeling is the “missionary” mount, back down is “BOB” (being on the bottom), and standing up is called the “S and M”. (Don’t ask me, I’m only reporting this.)
Larger lugers will allow for lugering in tandem and even trandem. Thus two or three lugies, wearing mix and match combinations of Velcro, will be able to mount the luger and each other in permutations that defy morality.
All this technical information is just background to explain the havoc that lugies will bring to the mountain slopes next year. Years ago skiers experienced the nightmare of the introduction of snowboarding, an innovation that threatened everything which the gentlemanly (gentleladyly?) sport of skiing had come to represent. Now the luger has arrived.
Whatever lack of courtesy and control that boarding introduced are now dwarfed compared to the threats from lugering. In fact, if the boarders are considered shredders, then the lugies are annihilators, not only of the slopes, the skiers, the boarders, but, with any luck, of each other.
On any dimension the lugie makes the boarder look like Sir (Madam) Gallahad. And the destruction that three sharp runner blades do to the surface of the snow is unspeakable.
Just who are these lugies? Many are former boarders who have gone extreme. Let’s face it, once on the road to degradation, there are no limits to which some deviants will go. But many of the lugies have never even known the art of skiing nor the technique of boarding. They have gone directly from teething to lugering.
To the boarders, I would like to say: “Do you see what it’s like to be terrorized by uncontrolled downhillers?” But I now find myself allied with the boarders against a common enemy.
Who would ever allow such an invasion of the mountains? Even the Aspen Skiing Co., when it still owned the slopes, would have outlawed the lugies. But since Skico sold out to IMOREL (International MOuntain REsorts Limited), the profit motive has stretched the limits.
Appeals to IMOREL by a coalition of skiers and boarders (SKIBO) have been in vain. In desperation, SKIBO went directly to the lugies. Reluctantly, some lugies have pledged they will clean up their act: to promote controlled downhill plummeting; to encourage safety; and to emphasize courtesy.
Yesterday I interviewed a traditional downhiller about this pledge.
“Do you trust lugies?” I asked.
“About as far as I can spit them,” he replied.