Skiing for dummies
November 16, 2006
Hey, bro! Are you ready to shred?Let me tell you, dude, I was totally psyched, and then things took a turn downhill, in the bad way. It was like, sick, and not in the good way. Skiing’s first edition of the season arrived and sat in my inbox long enough that I finally felt guilty enough that I should at least peruse it before chucking. I was less impressed than ever by the latest copy. It was so bad that it gave me that unexplainable embarrassed feeling. Heck, my only contribution to it was as a reader, although an illiterate could have gotten as much from it.My initial indifference to the magazine came at a young and impressionable age; around 14 I’d peg it at, if pushed. Until that time, I was intrigued by the equipment reviews they put out at least annually. It appears to me now that every issue is an evaluation of this or that gear of some type or another – veiled advertising. Anyway, I was the type who searched out the best gear available (i.e. the stuff I could finagle the sweetest deal on, or better yet, the most awesome equipment made – that which is free!) Accordingly, I used Skiing’s equipment reviews to appraise my new acquisitions after I already owned them. These reviews always confirmed that my stuff was totally awesome. No matter what brands I ended up with, year after year I appeared to have an uncanny ability to always pick the coolest stuff on the hill, or so I thought. The thing is, I never bothered to read about all the other equipment I didn’t have. Then one day, probably at home in bed sick (once again, the bad kind of sick) and lacking any other type of amusement, I read an issue cover to cover. The shocking thing I discovered is that Skiing has never given a bad review about any piece of snow-sliding equipment ever made! After being enlightened with this magazine’s philosophy of never letting the truth stand in the way of an advertising account, I began to read reviews of ski areas and found nothing but high praises for resorts that I had visited and found to be substandard in every conceivable way. Skiing is more shameless than blue jeans and a Dallas Cowboys jersey riding up single on a powder day! I discovered that Skiing was an incredibly boring magazine covering an amazingly exciting sport. I think others felt the same way because pretty soon they couldn’t give copies away. To this day, I know that I have never, ever subscribed to it, yet it shows up as persistently as any junk mail that puts the P.O. in box.Basically what I’m telling you is that there was no excuse for me opening the recent issue other than early-onset senility. However ashamed I am of the fact, I admit it and will not spend any more time suffering to explain. If you have been equally unfortunate, you will have noticed that Skiing has gone through a transformation – for the worse! They have changed their ID from insipid to stupid. It’s obvious that they are trying to alter their milquetoast image, but in my opinion they are trying too hard, and have stuck a perfect 180 on a pancake-flat landing without the benefit of twin-tip skis. I could go through the issue page by page and lay out for you something offensive, ridiculous, or idiotic on nearly every single one. It is well known that even the most juvenile potty humor can usually provoke a smirk from me, but even I sincerely wish that I had skipped the story about a fictional skier who fell on a sharp rock, punctured his derriere and now has to cope with having two … Oh, never mind – you get the picture.Perhaps the whole flavor of this prepubescent publication makeover can best be expressed by what is contained on the back page, usually reserved for a parting editorial word, the best a periodical has to offer, enticing a reader to come back for the next issue.On this traditionally esteemed page, Skiing has opted to run a series of “Bro-tivational” posters. I was unfortunate to see poster No. 1 in a series of seven, six of which I will never view. The poster shows one ski dork holding up an orange rope fence while two of his equally dorkish ski companions duck underneath, within a foot of a large red sign warning “AREA CLOSED.” The caption beneath reads, “Teamwork. Together we can make dreams become reality.” None of the participants in this “extreme” escapade is carrying a shovel. One can suppose that they are not equipped with avalanche beacons. Ironically, by ducking these purposefully placed ropes, they are arrogantly defying the very ski patrol that they are depending on to rescue them! Bro, I don’t get it. It’s one thing to cross a ski area boundary through a gate into the backcountry for a skiing adventure. Usually the prospect of heading out into the real wilderness is enough to scare even brazen Marlboro smokers into learning about and getting prepared for the exciting, yet dangerous, undertaking. It is an entirely different thing to duck a rope within a ski area boundary. Why would anyone do it? Areas within ski area boundaries are roped off because they are dangerous, or crappy skiing, and most oftentimes both. I don’t know any real skiers who duck ropes. Why do you suppose that is? Well, I’ll tell you. It’s because the evaluation of the questionable slope is so simple. There is no need to dig a snow pit to assess snow pack stability. You don’t have to scout ahead for dangerous objects like subsurface tree stumps or boulders. You don’t even have to consider possible collateral damage from an inadvertent snow slide. The ski patrol has already done all of this for you and is telling you it’s not a good place to make turns! Duh! The only thing I can conclude is that, if you duck a rope, it’s more than likely that you are lazy and clueless. We can only trust that the editors at Skiing know their readership well. When it comes to skiing, Roger Marolt knows the ropes. He won’t duck your comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.The Aspen Times, Aspen, Colo.