Marolt: The joy of skiing when I’m darn well good and ready to
I used to make fun of skiers with my lack of dedication. I still might if I could back it up with anything.
I consider one of the great privileges of living in a ski resort not having to go skiing. It is what separates us from the visitor, the gap-year resident and the obsessive. This revelation has come over many seasons on the slopes where enough was never enough and far too much at the same time. It is a wonderful feeling that there will be skiing for the taking tomorrow so that today can be filled with all the other things life offers and sometimes dictates that we need to take care of.
It sounds like an anti-skiing screed, but I see it as just the opposite. I love to ski. I have loved to ski for as long as I can remember. I ski hard. I ski as often as I want. Try as I might to keep from cherishing it as part of my identity, because I want to be able to offer more to humanity than the ability to adroitly manage moguls on Ridge of Bell, it is just the same. You get the point — I am a skier.
So, why the infatuation with not trying to ski a hundred days a season? The answer is simple — it is a gift.
There was a time in my life when I begged God to let me ski hard and well until I was 30 years old. I’m not joking. At about the age of 18, 30 seemed to be the age when people I knew eased off the throttle. I wasn’t at ease with that idea, but I accepted it and made it a mission to go for it as hard as I could until then so I could look back with no regrets knowing I hadn’t been cheated.
And so, I went for it. I skied every chance I could. When the lifts closed I grabbed my buddies and we hiked through the backcountry in search of the receding snow line until it vanished from the highest peaks. It wasn’t a popular thing to do then. We were cool weirdos. Then, we went to the glaciers to ski some more. It was a great source of pride to have skied every month of the year right here in Colorado.
We launched off 30-foot cornices. We hucked cliffs and thought we were only jumping. We had races through pine forests. We made up our own on-mountain contests to keep things interesting. Caution never won anything. We skied under the sun. We went up when the snow came down. We tolerated skiing in the rain. Heat wave, cold snap, dry spell, Pineapple Express — the only thing we altered in our routine was what we wore on any particular day in order to adapt to the weather. We were skiers, and those who weren’t as hard-core were a lower form of life, hardly human through the view from our goggles.
Then, one day, far too long after the 30-year deal I thought I had made with God expired, it happened. I woke up, and my back ached. I woke up the next morning, and the knees creaked. It was then I realized I had made my deal with the devil. Even if it made no sense, it made me mad. He had at least had the courtesy to reveal himself to Shoeless Joe and Johnny down in Georgia before they inked their deals. I had no idea with whom I was dealing.
Realizing this was an incredible revelation — I was going to be able to ski for as long as I could, and when I no longer could, I probably wasn’t going to care. So, where was that pressure to get out there and prove nothing coming from? I had just spent the better part of my youth trying to create objectives for an activity that was best enjoyed when it was completely pointless.
Now I ski when I can and have nothing better to do. You say that there is nothing better to do than go skiing, but you might be surprised. I was. Sometimes there isn’t, and others there is. And, as I said in the beginning, it is a great privilege of being able to choose between those days and adjust my schedule accordingly. Some days you can even do everything. I hope I can, at least until I turn 60.
Roger Marolt believes we make the mountains a happy place, not the other way around. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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