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A Skier's Year in Idle Thought

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 

The year of a skier is full of maudlin little milestones. In my case, I pass the first one in late July or early August, while cleaning out the cat’s litter box in the basement. Directly overhead are the shiny top-skins of skis resting base-up in the rafters. They catch my eye meaningfully for the first time since I stowed them there in April. Not long now. Actually it still is long now, but it’s late enough in the calendar year that I can give myself permission to start thinking about it. The buyer’s guide issues of Ski and Skiing will be out in a couple of weeks. In public I sometimes turn up my nose at these mags, but I pore over them hungrily in the privacy of the bathroom, where no one on EpicSki can watch.


Late in October I take down all the skis and inspect them carefully to determine which ones need to go to the doctor because of injuries sustained on late-season obstacles. On a crisp day when the thermometer testifies conclusively to summer’s end, I take them to the shop, and spend much longer there than filling out the work tickets really requires.


There is the day I first set up the tuning bench and touch up the skis that did not need serious medical attention. Eventually there is the first day of the season. Usually this is better than I expect, but only because I have carefully set low expectations. It is the second day when my ego takes the big hit, as off-season fantasies about how good I had gotten the season before encounter the real but forgotten hurdles of joint-stiffening cold, heavy gear, and muscle memory that will never forget a litany of skiing movements I learned when I was six and twelve and eighteen. Some of these habits are good – I can snowplow in the lift corral with the best of them. But many will need to be laboriously beaten down again this season. This in-my-face evidence of aging becomes tiresome, a decade or so into the brave new world of modern equipment and technique.


The first week in January marks the start of the beer league. Many of the acquaintances from my workplace, who got me started on this years ago, have become close friends. The signature artificial sweet odors of disinfectant, layers of damp old paint, and leaky plumbing in the cramped and ancient men’s room at Shawnee Peak now trigger an improbable nostalgia, when I encounter them for the first time each year.


In February or March, though, a day comes when I realize I’m skiing well again. An après-ski beer and high spirited trash talk with ski buddies, fueled by memories of a few high-quality turns, seems like a bigger gift than might seem reasonable to a non-skier. At that point a satisfying richness of days before the end of the season appears in front of me. Life is so good. Let’s plan the next big trip.


That richness of days is deceptive, though. Here we are again, now, today; so surprisingly, so predictably. “What did you think? Spring wouldn’t come this year?” my wife asks. I am postponing the day when I clean off the bench, but it is coming soon - perhaps this weekend. Maybe I have one more day on the hill, maybe not. It depends on many things beyond my control. Within two weeks, the skis will be back in the cellar.


Two days ago my dad, were he still living, would have turned 100. Forty-five years ago he taught me to ski on the slopes of Wildcat and Mt. Cranmore. I remember him putting the skis away carefully in the rafters, when that ceiling seemed impossibly high to me. My own son, taller than I am already, knows this whole routine too by now. Cheers, Dad. You done good.

Edited by qcanoe - 4/20/13 at 5:05am
post #2 of 11

Evocative!  thanks





How well you are able to ski is related to how hard you are willing to fall.

post #3 of 11
Deep thoughts from our philosopher of The Maine Woods:-) For me skiing has always had a big component of anticipation. My guilty pleasure was Ski and Skiiing magazine "resorts" issues and the like. Meanwhile, I'd procrasitnate on tune-ups and neglect my gear. Even in the best of years I only got about 50 ski days. That left 315 for endless anticipatory fantasizing about future ski trips/outings. It used to be that during the summer my anticipation factor would ratchet way down, but since the Internet Age and ready access to daily stokage the anticipation factor remains fairly high all year. Would I be so obsessed if I was satiated with 100+ onslope days each year?
post #4 of 11

Very nice to share, thanks, qc. My dad also introduced me to a skier's life, so long ago that all bindings were tele's. He'd be proud of his grandchildren, I think, who are vastly better than I was at that age.


This Sunday may well be the last day of my season. Always wistful moment, denuded snow like a snapshot of someone really nice that you knew long ago. Will take a few weeks to get the parkas clean, put gear away in storage, score next season's passes. Then try with varied success to take a mental vacation for a few months. Concentrate on summer sports, become an ocean creature. Work on avoiding Epic or TGR, again with mixed success. Then about late July find myself wondering when the review issues we all love to hate will show up. By August, beginning to ramp up leg training, turning back to the mountains.  

post #5 of 11

Thanks for the wonderful post.


Quite simply.....eloquent....

post #6 of 11

Proof solid that a skier's season never really ends even when every trace of snow has long since vaporized. 

It just hibernates, and percolates, in that part of the mind where all the sweetest things go.


post #7 of 11

The ski season ends.  A skier's season does not.  We go from enjoying the season, to  if we aren't careful, remorse over the ski season ending, followed by early season preparation, to almost giddiness with anticipation. 


This is why in July I walk the halls of work whistling "Winter Wonderland" even though it is in the '90's.  The skiers season doesn't end to me.  I have a dedicated bench for tuning in basement and even though I could use the space for something else through the summer, it is there as an off season shrine, that gets visited every now and again, because it is something to do with skiing.  June is when I really start buckling down since PSIA reminds me I better send them some money .  All summer long I enjoy hunting...for ski dealsyahoo.gif. I'll re-inventory my waxes in the fall to see what I forgot to order in the spring.  One of my favorite ski stomping grounds opens back up in early August and I have to go visit the ski shop even if to only say hello and smell the P-Tex .


After that it is Fall.  I love the Fall.  I've often likened it to foreplay because you know what you really want is next,  and it's so close.  I've gone through my gear countless times as I have my daughter's and grandson's.  I've read and posted at epicski for countless hours   duel.gif.  October brings conversations with the mountain about who's doing what for the season.  Probably already had a get together or two with other instructors, if only to meet up with someone for a beer and talk skiing beercheer.gif. Around Thanksgiving I make my pilgrimage to GMOL for my annual boot alignment.  I doubt the skis can hold anymore wax by this pointth_dunno-1[1].gif.


Next thing you know I'm at a race coaches clinic ski.gifwishing I had gotten a few more days in before skiing with all these seasoned coaches and examiners - very intimidating .


If you don't pay attention and focus on those precious days that are available to ski, you'll be facing spring feeling remorseful that you didn't get enough.  


Don't let that happen,



Edited by L&AirC - 5/5/13 at 3:49am
post #8 of 11

Just found this looking at the top rated posts of all time.  Worthy post for that list.


I am making a gradual transition, like someone stopping a bad habit but not going cold turkey but cutting back bit by bit.


From 3 days a week consistently for the last 18 weeks to 2, to 1.  It'll be over soon, it's not yet, but I am anticipating the end.  Took off my snow tires and roof box today.


Now on to 8 months of working out, flexibility, core and balance exercises, lots of cardio, more weight loss and more ice-skating.  All towards the goal of skiing even better next year. 

post #9 of 11
I agree, qcanoe is an eloquent author.
post #10 of 11

That was truly a wonderful expression of a skier's view of life. I am glad that this post a risen again.

I have neither the ability nor the time to put together an expression of the quality of this by qcanoe but I do have some thoughts on this past ski season.


I spent 20+ years working in the ski industry from turning screws to national service manger to sales rep and still love it as much as ever.

I am probably one of the oldest participants in this forum having skied for 62 seasons. I have home movies of me skiing @ Lost Trail,MT/ID when I was 2 years old. And we just closed the Lost Trail lifts at the end of their 75th season. Congratulations Bill, Scott, and Judy Grasser on another great season!!


Over 62 seasons, I have lived in Sun Valley, ID, Utah, Bozeman, MT and back to Idaho(my choices for residence are driven my desire to ski) and during those years I have had a lot of incredible ski seasons and a few that weren't so great.( I still feel the need for powder in my face, jumping off obstacles, and going fast!)


Our 2013-2014 Ski Season:

Our season began with a great day at Targhee on their 2nd day of the season; complications prevented us hitting opening day but #2 proved better anyway(no huge Jackson/Targhee crowds; people in the lift line were cooking breakfast on bkpkng stoves before daylight.) Although it is relatively close to home, it was my first day at Targhee in 15 + years. Not one of my favorite mountains; I'll take JHMR!

Skiing at Lost Trail began with surprisingly good skiing in early December, with a base depth that rivaled any in the west by the end of the month, and we were skiing very good powder.

I was managing to ski from 2-4 days a week with Lost Trail being open from Thursday thru Sunday(we call it Powder Thursday due to new snow almost every Thursday.)

{In fact, this year there was a contest to ski Lost Trail w/Tommy Moe and 10 friends on a Wednesday(new snow!!.) In fact the following day when there was an add'l amount of new, overnight snow, I was surprised to find some of my stashes already had tracks, although somewhat covered. I learned later from Scott(the owner,) that "Moe day" had been the day before.}

Other than a 2 week cold snap the first two weeks of February(no new snow but still great skiing {I love the feeling of a carved turn}; the powder snobs stayed home,) I skied from 6 to 26 inches everyday I went in January thru March. Until the end of February, when others in the west began to get more snow, Lost Trail consistently had 20-30 inches of deeper base than other resorts in the west. (Historically, Lost Trail has always had consistently great snow although not in the depths of Alta, Targhee,  or Bridger Bowl.)The powder skiing continued more on than off until yesterday's closing.

I did have other days of good/great skiing at other areas during the season, including my first trip to Red Resort @ Rossland, BC(what great mountains{3}.)


 I really appreciate that, most days, I was able to have my "ski buddy" with me to share in my passion. She's always been willing to follow me everywhere from False Face @ Whistler/Blackcomb, to the chutes and Hobacks of Jackson, and to the backside, Burnt Trees, and Scott-Land of Lost Trail. (As well as on all my biking escapades!)

In addition, we were able to persuade some our best friends to come share our little mountain and fabulous snow!


All this leads me to the summation that the 2013-2014 ski season, has probably been the very best ski season of my life!!

post #11 of 11
Just found this on all-time top rating.

Thank you for your eloquence, QC. Tears welled up in my eyes reading your final paragraph and reminiscing dearly departed who taught me how to ski 15 years ago. How the few afternoon runs playing hookey at Alta then has now blossomed into a passion and obsession.

Do write another installment again/soon.
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