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Tunes and skiing

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I am sitting on the couch taking in the Olympics - some boarding events, to be specific. And it looks to me that some competitors may be listening to tunes on their runs. Just before jumping into history, they tuck their pod wires into their jacket or bib.

And I wonder about the connection between music and skiing. And whether there is  more to it than mere amusement or distraction.

I am no stranger to music on the hill. But I was a little boy it radiated from speakers mounted on spindly birch trees at Lost Valley, a small hill in Maine where my pals and I would ski at night. I remember the pull of the rope tow and making stem christie turns to the sounds of Petula Clark signing "Downtown" and McCartney crooning the Beatles new hit "Yesterday." The magic of those night time romps was fueled by a soundtrack signaling the British Invasion. It was the music that filled my frosty ears as my thirst for skiing was quenched, at least for the evening.

Fast forward more than a few decades and several generations of technology that now puts all of music history at frozen fingertips. All piped into the ears not from scratchy horn speakers nailed to a tree, but transmitted digitally through tiny wires feeding plastic pods parked remarkably close to the brain. And on the big screen or in personal You tube vids, skiing has been scored, providing ear packaging for eye candy.

I love music. As a semi-pro jazz musician it is an essential part of my life. Just as skiing is. But, as a grown up,  I have never had the urge to experience both at the same time. Perhaps it is because for me the mountains have their own song - a symphony of singing wind and creaking trees and ski against snow counterpoint. My ears hear what my eyes see. And that symmetry closes the sensory circle  for me 

Perhaps there is also a more pragmatic issue born of my paranoia on groomers. The eyes tell me what is in front. The ears tell me what is approaching. I think I would feel uncomfortable to be deaf to the traffic around me. 

I am warning up to the idea of introducing music into my ski life and am going through the possibilites. For some reason not clear to me, I am hearing piano sonatas or some other cerebral music to enhance the skiing experience which is existential to me. Or something with a strong driving big band beat as a skiing metronome. Or maybe some Jimi or The Dead - well, just because.

So do you listen to tunes, or only to the world around you, or both.


Edited by deliberate1 - 2/12/14 at 7:10pm
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