Roger Marolt: The best day of skiing is better after a lousy day of work
They say the worst day of skiing is better than the best day of work. This might be true. The easier part to prove would seem to be on the work side of the equation. It speaks for itself. We know what we are getting there. In math they call it a “constant.” What we have to show is that a bad day of skiing is worse than that.
On the plus side for a day on the slopes, I try to think of a really lousy day of skiing and nothing immediately pops into my mind. I think it is important not to read too much into this though because I can’t remember the last time my feet stunk either. The human brain has an amazing capacity to forget unpleasant things.
There is the semi-repressed hazy memory of a time I went skiing with my dad in the springtime in 1972 a week after I had turned 10-years-old. There was about 14.5 inches of red “powder.” Apparently a dust storm erupted over Utah and mixed in with the moisture-laden clouds above and became like an atmospheric cement mixer that churned its load the whole way to Aspen Mountain where it deposited its heavy, sloppy slurry of crud that was more mud than snow.
Somehow I managed to follow my pops to the middle of Silver Queen trail. It was there that I melted down in the goop. It was almost impossible for me to move. When I did, I crashed. Putting my skis back on in that mess was as laborious as trying to ski it. The good news is that I felt free to cry as my dad, who was as strong and elegant a skier as ever lived, stood as a tiny dot at the bottom of the run, patiently waiting. His were the only other tracks on the mountain. I was utterly alone in my misery.
As I was in the fifth grade then, I did not have a job to compare that day of skiing to. But with experience gained in the ensuing summers following that treacherous spring day, I can safely say I would have traded it for walking behind a lawn mower in the graveyard, trimming around headstones on a hot August afternoon.
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Then there was the day about eight years later when I, a cocky high school junior, went schussing down the unusually icy ramp to the old 40-meter ski jump against even the advice of my contemporaries, who were generally about as risk-averse as a unicyclist on the high wire in a circus.
That was a bad decision. I ended up with a severe concussion and apparently told my buddies I would be OK if we could just stop at the Highland’s Merry-Go-Round restaurant for a minute or two so I could gather my wits, even though we were on Aspen Mountain at the time. To be honest, I don’t remember a thing about that day after I hit the ground, so I cannot definitively declare that it was worse than a day at work. In fact, the morning seemed lovely.
After I got out of college, I believed I had figured how to not have to compare skiing with my job. I declared to my father that I wanted to make my living in the ski industry as he had done. “That’s fine,” he told me. “But, if you want to ruin something you love to do, turn in into your job.”
Being the reliable All-American son I was, I set out to prove him wrong. He did not stand in my way. In fact, he gave me a job working in the ski industry. The thing I would like to say is, “I was right and those days were the best days of my life.” Honesty forbids that though. After one spring working in the ski industry, I was cured. It was the first time in my life I got sick of skiing, and worse, I was “living the dream” so I couldn’t confide to anybody about this.
The experience forced me back to school where I studied until I came out a crusty on the outside, doughy-in-the-middle accountant. Since then, I have averaged about 50 days of skiing a year. It’s not a ton but plenty for me. I have learned a lot about my love of skiing. Up to a point, more is better, and then I hit a point of diminishing returns.
My conclusion is that, as with anything precious, the less I have the more valuable it becomes. For me, it turns out a day of skiing is better after a day of work.
Roger Marolt thinks the 100-day pin is a sharp implement that can end up pricking the balloon of skiing enthusiasm. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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