A tale of trajectories and ballistics | AspenTimes.com

A tale of trajectories and ballistics

I have come to understand that an unappreciated benefit of being a skier is an intuitive awareness of your position in space and being able to avoid a collision with another object — be it moving or stationary. This crosses over into everyday life when one is traveling by other means such as a car, bicycle, skateboard, scooter or even navigating the holiday crowds at City Market through those skinny aisles.

It can come in especially handy when you are accelerating past the Copper Mountain exit on Interstate 70 to get a run at Vail Pass and all of a sudden there is a jack-knifed belly-dump semi blocking all lanes except the fast lane and there is some fool right behind you thinking you are going too slow and wanting to pass you on the right. There is nothing like paying attention and reaction time to get your ass out of that mess.

If you drive clear across country to the East Coast like I have done for the past 20 years or so, then you shall surely experience more than one hazardous driving incident that could have gone seriously wrong but for your understanding of trajectories and ballistics. You need to know when it’s OK to go fast but also when to slow down. I have gone 75-plus mph in the Town Downhill and also have skied past a million trees hitting only two or three.

Another place it works is when you are coming down Independence Pass during “leaf-peeper” season, rounding a blind corner and there is some fool stopped right in the middle of the road with their camera out — usually with a license plate from Texas or Florida. My dad, Deane, used to say, “Always keep your eyes peeled.”

Prentice Billings