Sean Beckwith: Ain’t no time to hate on the ski mountains
“Do you ski or snowboard?” That is not the question — unless you’re at a rental shop. If not, it shouldn’t matter. There’s a natural discord between skiers and snowboarders, but only if you let it be that way. The slopes — except for Alta in Utah — are hate-free zones and should be welcoming to everyone.
I snowboard with fellow single-stick shredders as well as skiers. (If you snow-ler blade, I can’t help you. It’s fine. It’s cool. I just assume you’re the same person who rocks mustache wax and a bow tie because you think it looks good but in actuality is a cry for attention. You want to get noticed? Buy an inflatable T-rex costume.) But back to the subject at hand: Why are skiers and snowboarders occasionally subject to a short-fused, Hatfield-McCoy-type feud?
Some reasons are more obvious than others. Most people older than 50 probably ski, and they may view snowboarders as young, reckless and a bane to the skiing community. Younger people who snowboard — those who remember when boards were outlawed on many mountains — might look at skiers as entitled, elitist, rich people who have memberships to country clubs like Bushwood (shout out to “Caddyshack”).
That said, giving people a designation based on how they get down the mountain is silly. It’s almost as silly as groaning when you have to ride the lift with a snowboarder or two. I get it, my board doesn’t point forward and I hate the safety bar, but if you ask nicely rather than slamming the bar down on my helmet we should be fine. And if it’s inconvenient to take two extra seconds to get my attention because I have earbuds in, then maybe social situations aren’t for you. Stay your ass in the house if you’re going to be Grumplestiltskin. Everyday on the mountain is a celebration. Outside of getting blindsided by a gaper, you should be savoring every run like I do with chicken wings: no meat left on the bone.
I routinely give my skier friends a hard time because that’s how you’re supposed to treat your friends. I treat my friends who are Chicago Cubs fans the same way, which is why I didn’t care about the avalanche of hate I got after they won their first title since the Model T was the auto of choice.
So what if you’re on the lift with a bunch of bros passing around a flask? So what if you’re on the lift with the geriatric crew safely guarded behind the bar while they discuss lunch plans at Bonnie’s? The ride is 20 minutes, max. It’s not a big deal. Relax. Take in the view.
If a snowboarder blows by you with a little too much speed, it’s most likely because keeping speed is a necessity to traversing catwalks. (Sorry I’m not sorry for not carrying poles.) The very last thing I want to do is run into you because a) I’m at fault if I hit you and b) I knocked down a ski school class when I was 12 and it sucked.
If a skier wants to lecture you about proper mountain safety, kindly apologize because that will end the etiquette class in the quickest way possible.
However, please, please, please — whether you’re a skier or snowboarder — don’t make slow, erratic turns while occupying the entire run. You wouldn’t just toss on cruise control and monopolize the left lane on the interstate, would you? (And if you would, here’s a little heads up that everyone passing you in the right lane thinks you’re a terrible person.)
The question should never be, “Do you ski or snowboard?’ It should be, “How much fun do you want to have today?” Because we’re going to the mountain, and we’re about to ball out.
Sean Beckwith is a copy editor at The Aspen Times. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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