Why We Ski

Posted by JD on December 12, 2012

We spend a lot of time dispensing the practical advice of how to get to the mountain, or how best to plan kids’ activities during a ski vacation.  Let’s discuss something along a more meditative line: the entire endeavor of Skiing – Why? – Why do we ski?

I first came to skiing as a 26 year old, decently athletic guy, who was pretty sure he had all of the answers.  Humility came fast and furious courtesy of a 600 foot hill in Wisconsin. My approach was strictly athletic and not particularly thoughtful.  Honestly, I was flailing with skiing until I came upon a veritable pied piper of skiing and the ski life – Lito Tejada-Flores (http://www.breakthroughonskis.com/). I had the good fortune of skiing with Lito in his intensive ski weeks and I don’t think it is hyperbole to say the experience changed my life.  His teaching abilities, his transcendent philosophical approach to skiing, and his copious experiences in the mountains impacted me greatly.  While I became an infinitely better skier, what I really acquired was the introspection and the possibilities that skiing has unlocked within me.  That is why I ski.

In its elemental state skiing is a continual compromise of physics – our dance with these unyielding monoliths of rock and ice, temporarily sheathed in their virtual skin of snow, pushing and pulling against the weight we place upon our skis as we navigate the cirques, the boulevards of corduroy, or the next crucible of bumps. We strap long boards to our feet and will them to bend and arc alternately burnishing and brushing off speed; hurtling down a hill with varying degrees of control and abandonment – it is these moments when skiing becomes untethered from the conscious and takes on completely visceral, wild, and even primitive properties. It is a powerful and supremely primal feeling of being in concert with nature and your abilities.  We ski for moments like these.

Now there is no doubt there exists a large and not just figurative hill to climb when it comes to mastering skiing.  In our wake we leave a mental and physical debris field on many a slope, on incalculable bump runs, or fields of waist high snow. We string words together that would earn more than a stern look from our mothers – but for the sheer determination and the knowledge that the challenge was still there – taunting us - we rise again, collect our gear, and gather our shredded pride and point ‘em downhill once again for the perfect run we know we will make the next time.  Because it is there is also why we ski.

Ultimately skiing is a singular pursuit – it’s you and the mountain baby and best of luck - and yet skiing is one of the most communal of activities we know.  We may have had wondrous days skiing on our own, but they pale when contrasted with the force multiplier of joy and esprit de corps of skiing with friends and family. Bombing from top to bottom with your best friends, witnessing your children making first turns, and après ski, reliving it all again, and how you were a little bit better in the story than in reality is indelible. Connection is why we ski.

We ski for all of these: our own sense of challenge and accomplishment, our connection to the physical world, our health, our friends and our families.  We ski because the ski itself is a metaphor as a hyperplane - with no beginning or end – what it means to you comes from you from any dimension.


Related Snowmamas Posts



Comment posted by Jeff T on December 13, 2012 8:24 AM MST

GREAT read JD!

Respond To This Comment


Comment posted by Kristen on December 12, 2012 12:13 PM MST

Fabulous read! It's tough to put into words the love for this sport but you managed to say it so perfectly.

Respond To This Comment


Add Your Own Comments

*– required

The views expressed on Snowmamas are those of the individual authors, who are independent contractors of Copper Mountain Resort and Killiington Resort and may not be factually accurate. These views are not intended to reflect the opinions of Copper Mountain Resort, Killington Resort, its owners, its management or its employees. Snowmamas' will receive compensation for their participation as an author.