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Spirit of Skiing

post #1 of 28
Thread Starter 
Reading the thread started by Soul about the cheapest way to spend a winter skiing, I was struck by the contrast between what I read there and the reality/perception of skiing as a pasttime of the rich. The fellow who revived the Olympic Games, Pierre de Coubertin, said early in the last century that skiing should never be in the Olympics because it was an elitist sport. (He should know: he was a count.)

Despite skiing's having been adopted from the Norwegian farmers by the privileged classes, I get the feeling that today the Ski Bum is considered to be the purist in skiing, sort of like the mystic wandering the earth looking for enlightenment.

Stay with me, folks. Now consider the renegade biker on a Harley and contrast that with the rich folks who are buying Harleys (let's face it, at today's prices, an optioned-up Harley costs as much as a Cadillac Escalade), wearing the leathers, and gathering at Sturgis with the bad boys and girls.

What is it that makes successful businessmen yearn to be homeless vagrants, as one of the stars of the movie, Ski Bums, said most good citizens would call him? Is it just romanticism, or does the Ski Bum have something of value that the businessman can't have?
post #2 of 28
I believe it is the desire to get away from the rat race.
To move from the acquisiton of possessions (and related debts) to a place where the only acquistion is fresh tracks, and the race is to get up the mountain to enjoy yourself.
Actually, when I put it like that, it makes me kinda interested in trying it...

S
post #3 of 28
Thread Starter 
As Johnny Thrash says in the movie (Ski Bums, natch), what's the challenge in having a fancy job and buying a ski vacation where everything is done for you? That's EASY. What I do is DIFFICULT.

So there's the challenge of scrounging to be exist in a rich man's sport without selling out.
post #4 of 28
The value of working hard, really hard for 8 months of the year for me is that that the other 4 are mine!
I make the calls, either it is to go skiing (mostly) or have a bad hangover and stay all day on a wednesday(missing out on a good day).
But still it's my choice... That's what drives me, but then again, I've never been a successfull businessman... :
But then again, I'm not as extreme as the guy described, I have a home, and hopefully a job.
post #5 of 28
Nolo,

I find anything presented as the sage advice of the ever-young Mr. Thrash to be inherently dubious ( ), while a few of the other characters in the film did, once or twice, give me pause for thought and deep respect. I have a feeling that had I found skiing much earlier in life - at the point, for instance, right between graduation and what-to-do-next - I'd have opted to find some way to ski as much as I could. I'd suspect that that door, once opened, and given the right ingredients (see Mr. Thrash for but one example), can lead one to a lot of skiing at the "expense" of "progress" up other avenues toward more socially acceptable and financially rewarding destinations. Some ski and ski and ski, get it out of their system, and settle for skiing when they can. I don't know that the passion ebbs as much as the ski days grow fewer and farther between.
Some, of course, have built lives that include many of All The Good Things (more palpable material "success"), through hard work and determination, while still - because of the desire to do so - keeping skiing in the mix; for some people - EndlessSeason comes to mind - it's a pretty substantial part of the mix.
I, personally, would not make the choices a couple of them made. I don't know that I could accomodate sneaking into public restrooms to snag the quick sink-shower, especially as grey entered my hair. I'm speaking of the guy whose take on others' perception of him included your "homeless vagrant" reference. While I was intrigued by this individual's peace-within-himself(sometimes visibly tenuous) and willing resourcefulness (the lightbulb scene), and he COULD be depicted as a hero of sorts, it was clear in his self-deprecating manner that he is intelligent AND beginning to be home to some doubts about his choices.
I don't think SkiSpirit has much to do, not inherently, with the frequency with which one skis, or even how one skis. I do think, though, that it is a Spirit that can be nurtured or go under-nourished. There was a period of time, the first couple years of my skiing, when the appetite for it was voracious. I bored people to glazed eyes with my ski-talk. It was hard to accept that I wouldn't be skiing as often as I'd like, or even remotely close. Moral of story: the flame doesn't burn like a torch; it's more like a lighter; but it's always lit.

By the way, I didn't quite get Johnny's situation. Dad's a doctor, right? And wasn't that his mom speaking from some nicely appointed, cavernous, rough-hewn beamed mountain home? And young Johnny more or less up and left school to "find himself" in Banff, or Lake Louise, leading him to life in Whistler? He WAS digging through the junkyard for skis but I wondered if he's another "ski bum" who's had to make the difficult choices of how to best spread the trust fund/inheritance "support."

I found myself smiling for the couple who'd put their noses to the grindstone, worked at the expense of skiing for a year or so, and were able to build their home.
post #6 of 28
Now this type of attitude bugs me (ski bum's attitude, not you nolo).

I work in an IT company that is struggling to stay alive after a disastrous couple of years. I work long hours and I have huge responsibilities to deliver product and services that drive about 65% of company revenue. The pressures of meeting commitments and meeting very aggressive targets is often overwhelming. Becoming a "homeless vagrant" would be the easy way out, as far as I am concerned.

Fortunately, I can swing either way. I doubt that Johnny Thrash can become an executive overnight.
post #7 of 28
TomB

I was where you are at for 10 years and yep it was very hard mentally and physically. I just hope the whole pack of cards does not collapse on you and leave you and your colleagues stranded alone with your thoughts.

Is it just romanticism, or does the Ski Bum have something of value that the businessman can't have?

What makes ski bumming "hard" is the rejection of the lifestyle from mainstream society. Facing this rejection one must build an inner strength to survive alone outside of "acceptanced norms".

I think the "glorification" of the bum lifestyle by those that will never "go it alone" is a very interesting reflection of deep unresolved inner fear. Looking the part is an egotistical excuse for not living the life and addressing our fears.

Sort of like funkybob preaching from a book for acceptance in his community but not being aware of the real meanings of the words or questioning them for a truer understanding\enlightenment.

Oz [img]graemlins/angel.gif[/img]
post #8 of 28
Thread Starter 
Quote:
...the flame doesn't burn like a torch; it's more like a lighter; but it's always lit.
I don't know if the image works, because skiing is like a drug for me. The more I get, the more I want. I traded for proximity to the source. Whatever I passed up in the process doesn't register next to the prize I have gained. (There was a time when I resisted this fate and took the LSAT, but I came to my senses in time.)

Quote:
I can swing either way. I doubt that Johnny Thrash can become an executive overnight.
Ahhh, but would you be swinging like Johnny Thrash?

Quote:
What makes ski bumming "hard" is the rejection of the lifestyle from mainstream society. Facing this rejection one must build an inner strength to survive alone outside of "acceptanced norms".
The ski bum's revenge is when mainstream society comes onto his turf, and he gets to enjoy being a snob.
post #9 of 28
Oz said I think the "glorification" of the bum lifestyle by those that will never "go it alone" is a very interesting reflection of deep unresolved inner fear. Looking the part is an egotistical excuse for not living the life and addressing our fears.

Probably true, but it goes both ways. Running away from daily pressures to a life of marginal existence is also a form of escapism. Looking from a distance, the businessman can cope mentally, but needs physical comfort and the ski bum can cope physically but need mental comfort (a more relaxed existence). Neither choice is without its challenges when all is said and done.

Nolo said Ahhh, but would you be swinging like Johnny Thrash?

In a word, NO. [img]smile.gif[/img]
post #10 of 28
Great flick, the words are just getting to deep for me......As was said to me....."Just get out in the sunshine..."
post #11 of 28
TomB

I agree with you. All context works when reflected in the same manner.

Art

Hows the sunshine? Have you found a ski home? Are you still married? (in jest)

Anyone know where I can get a copy of the Ski Bum movie downunder? Maybe there should be a screening at the gathering.

Oz [img]smile.gif[/img]

[ October 12, 2002, 09:03 PM: Message edited by: man from oz ]
post #12 of 28
OZ,
Yes I have found the sunshine in Penticton BC (literally). Am starting to look for a apt so that I can get out of this hostel. Will see in the next couple of days if I have a REAL job cutting metal, but I still have the job at Apex for the winter. The Misses is still in London and will be out here soon. I beleive that someone (nolo?), will be bringing a copy to the gathering; enjoy and identify.
post #13 of 28
Thread Starter 
I will be bringing it--along with my home movies. I'll bring a portable VCR and some SleepyTime Tea and we can gather in the evening at the Extended Stay for happy-dream input after an exciting day on the slopes. (Provided as an alternate activity for the alcohol-challenged among us.)
post #14 of 28
Quote:
Originally posted by nolo:
Reading the thread started by Soul about the cheapest way to spend a winter skiing, I was struck by the contrast between what I read there and the reality/perception of skiing as a pasttime of the rich. The fellow who revived the Olympic Games, Pierre de Coubertin, said early in the last century that skiing should never be in the Olympics because it was an elitist sport. (He should know: he was a count.)

Despite skiing's having been adopted from the Norwegian farmers by the privileged classes, I get the feeling that today the Ski Bum is considered to be the purist in skiing, sort of like the mystic wandering the earth looking for enlightenment.

Stay with me, folks. Now consider the renegade biker on a Harley and contrast that with the rich folks who are buying Harleys (let's face it, at today's prices, an optioned-up Harley costs as much as a Cadillac Escalade), wearing the leathers, and gathering at Sturgis with the bad boys and girls.

What is it that makes successful businessmen yearn to be homeless vagrants, as one of the stars of the movie, Ski Bums, said most good citizens would call him? Is it just romanticism, or does the Ski Bum have something of value that the businessman can't have?
What makes the “successful” businessman yearn to become a ski bum is the freedom, or more precisely, a lack of responsibility that comes with the territory. Most would like the total freedom, but only for a short period of time. They can’t handle long periods of chaos, but a short period of planned chaos is just right (notice the oxymoron). Thus, the Sturgis ride, or the month long ski bum sabbatical provides the short duration chaos to make them feel as if they too are cool and carefree. They are not and they cannot be. This is not a break to chaos; it is more like a child play acting as an adult. There is no risk; the job, family, and friends will be there when they return.

Don’t believe me? Look around and see how many people you know who have really broken from the social mold even for a period of time. Not many, and if they do they are hard to understand, because they are not driven by the same underlying societal goals (money, power, etc.). These people are different, with different drives, goals and needs.

Some thoughts: is the businessman really successful if he yearns to be a ski bum/Sturgis rider? Or is the ski bum the one who is really successful since he yearns to be a ski bum and has set into motion a plan, which lets him achieve that goal? I think success is the process of setting goals and initiating plans, through which the goals can be achieved, not the achievement of a goal by itself.

I once met a man who stepped out of the rat race and into the Mexican jungles. His experiences added a new dimension to his life. He would respect the ski bum for taking a challenge that is not sanctioned and respected by society, and attaining his goal nonetheless.

So, I vote that the ski bum has a value that the businessman cannot have.
post #15 of 28
Great post maddog. [img]graemlins/thumbsup.gif[/img]
post #16 of 28
Well said Maddog

Of course there are also business people (in all business) that attempt to make change in the madness of corporate greed. They too should be seen as setting goals for change. Sometimes staying in the madness and advocating change for the good of all may be the ultimate sacrifice on the path to enlightenment.

Oz
post #17 of 28
Interesting thread ~ In the immortal words of Uma Thurman in Pulp Fiction : "Well, THIS doesn't sound like the usual chit-chat. THIS sounds like you really have something to SAY!"

Here's my $.02 for what it's worth (Probably about $.02):

It's been said above already, and my apologies for not crediting the appropriate sources ~ It's about freedom. We all have internal passions. For most of us, it's the draw of the mountains, the waist deep powder, the solitude of standing on a mountaintop and looking at what Nature has bestowed upon us. Don't we all wish we had the freedom, the ABILITY to do that at will? To whisk away leaving all responsibilty behind?

I haven't been blessed with that freedom. I've been blessed, but in other ways - my 2 kids, a loving girlfriend and a career that pays me well. My freedoms come in small doses. Sundays are reserved for golf in the Summer, skiing in the Winter. I work hard M-F doing Networking, and Tuesday & Wednesday nights, I manage a restaurant. The free time I do have is dedicated to my girlfriend & my kids. Obviously, this leaves little "me" time.

But fear not....I have a plan: Continue busting my butt over the next few years. (Ok, maybe more than a few..) When my kids get a bit older, I'm gone. I don't care if I find a SHACK to live in and a paper route to make $$$, I'll get there one day. Lead a simple life? I can do that. I'll play the Corporate games only as long as I need to. Then I'll fly away from here as fast as I can. Some might miss me, but most won't. There'll be a thousand more right behind me to fill my shoes.

But I'll check in from time to time. After a hard day on the slopes, I'll check in here & see what's going on. Just to see how the "other half" is living...



EP ~ Ski hard, live well.
post #18 of 28
and then there are business people who get a kick out of making ripples in the business world and go and do it, working 70 hour weeks and attaining their BMW and 2.3 kids. Each to their own, as long as it gets you going.
post #19 of 28
Nolo,

EPSkis has eluded to why the successful businessman yearns to be a ski bum. It is about not having to deal with the day to day pressures of business and family. Being a ski Bum is perceived as a complete escape from a life which is full of obligations and complications. Being a SKI BUM is prceived by the business man a total escape from an encumbered life of commitments.

It is about recapturing something that has long been lost. That word and most dearest of concepts is:



FREEDOM
post #20 of 28
Thread Starter 
Freedom? That may be the perception from the other side of the fence, but as Johnny Thrash said, scrounging is a hard way to live.

I found it interesting that the Quebeqois, son of the hockey player, had the goal of getting a job in the ski school. I think a lot of instructors, managers, ski company roadies, food service supervisors, CEOs, etc., are former ski bums who rose out of the bongfog to gainful employment in snow biz.

These are the people who should run the show, in my opinion. They have the custodial atttitude necessary to manage a natural resource and are connected to the experience.

The same thing that happened to the Forest Service is happening in the ski business--the indigenous people, whose parents often were loggers, used to staff the Forest Service. They had some history and hands on, local lore-based as well as university-based understanding of the issues of managing their ecosystem. Now the Forest Service is staffed by urbanites who graduated from a university program. Many have a wealth of theoretical knowledge and the ability to perform computer simulations, but they are functionally as dumb as posts when it comes to understanding the soul of the land they are managing.
post #21 of 28
One notion in this thread needs clarification. If you are a successful businessperson, you can be a ski bum.

Otherwise, I think we all love the mountains, hopefully mountain lore, skiing, and sharing alpine experiences with others of the same ilk. So regardless of your background and current position, you share this in common.

I would have loved to be a member of the 10th Mountain Division
(hey, that'd test your love of the mountains now, wouldn't it?), survived the training : then gone on to start the Vail ski resort. Now there's a successful businessperson.
post #22 of 28
Right on Wink. Freedom is a big part of why people ski. Freedom to be human, to feel alive again. Least that's how I see it. And it doesn't matter whether it's up from the "bongfog" or down from the "urban fog" we all find that something in skiing that connects us with places in ourselves and with nature that can be so elusive in our everyday lives. And skiing is the great equalizer also. Ride the chairlift and it doesn't matter where you come from, everyone knows where you're going, to the top to ski and enjoy what's under your feet and in front of your eyes, just like everyone else. Where the one from the urbanfog gladly discusses with the one from the bongfog their last run.

Nolo, was that really you talking about the disconect between academia and the real world?
post #23 of 28
Nolo,

You talk about the other side of the fence. Maybe that exec. that yearns to be free once again, became that exec on a path to being able to afford the feeding of his "habit." Somehow the "BS" or complications of life distracted his focus, and can now only daydream about it.
post #24 of 28
Quote:
Originally posted by wink:
Nolo,

You talk about the other side of the fence. Maybe that exec. that yearns to be free once again, became that exec on a path to being able to afford the feeding of his "habit." Somehow the "BS" or complications of life distracted his focus, and can now only daydream about it.
I agree.

[ October 20, 2002, 04:54 PM: Message edited by: Paul__420 ]
post #25 of 28
Thread Starter 
I got my college alumni magazine today. I was reading through the alumni news and this entry caught my eye:

"XXXXX has left the corporate world and is working as a feng shui consultant."

Is this a great millennium, or what?
post #26 of 28
Here’s some thoughts this topic inspired. Perhaps they are not on point but, here they are for your consideration.

Perhaps to some 'businessmen' the career is a passion and to look at a 'ski bum' he sees an immature hedonist. For this person, work is the ultimate in self-expression and freedom. Is this person the purist among businessmen or a lucky soul who loves what they’re doing? Is there a distinction at all?

Let me ask this of all you dedicated instructors out there. You love to teach, talk and preach skiing. You spend a lot of time analyzing and practicing your profession. You have made financial sacrifices to pursue the sport you love. Are you the purist of skiing? Do you possess the grail of the spirit of skiing or are you a lucky soul who loves what you’re doing? Is there a distinction at all?

I think the image of the ski bum is romanticized. We only see the endless powder days, no responsibility to anyone or anything, nothing but hours of play in a beautiful environment pursuing beautiful people. We don’t think about scrounging for food and shelter. Anyone out there who has had to go wanting for basic material needs knows that poverty is no fun and being poor doesn’t make you a purist. It just makes you poor.

Being a ski bum does not justify being a snob. Why would it? If anything the ski bum should thank that tourist with a fist full of dollars. Without them the ski bum's playground would wither. Even if said bum is skiing backcountry, they had better be skiing on their own privately owned mountain otherwise they are skiing on our turf.

I wonder if most ski bums out there are just kids between school and careers. Ski bumming is a great way to take some time to decompress and enjoy life. Perhaps one day the bong fog or beer buzz or powder rush will subside and they will find themselves employed in some facet of snow business and set about nurturing the sport we all love.

Or I wonder if they are like so many hippies or trustafarians that I knew who rebelled against their comfortable middle/upper middle class life and 'dropped out' to say f#@% you daddy and mommy and country club lifestyle only to drop back in to mainstream when slumming gets tiresome. Perhaps these are today’s businessmen that dread their jobs and dream of the ski bumming life.

So where is the spirit of skiing and the purist of the sport? They are here at EpicSki. They are working the resorts. They are saving for vacation to go skiing. They are sleeping in their cars or tents at or near the resort. They are racing on the World Cup circuit and in the ski clubs. I think the spirit of skiing burns brightest in that rookie skier who just made that first breakthrough to dynamic parallel turns and is now hooked for life. I think it may be brighter still in the kids that are laughing, falling and learning without even knowing it, so into the moment that is all that matters. Don’t we all seek to enjoy our play on snow as a child does, uncritically and accepting the moment? The spirit of skiing? I think Grace Slick summed up spirituality best when she sang… "Nobody needs to baptize me; any time I laugh I got religion."
post #27 of 28
Thread Starter 
:
post #28 of 28
Quote:
Originally posted by man from oz:
[What makes ski bumming "hard" is the rejection of the lifestyle from mainstream society. Facing this rejection one must build an inner strength to survive alone outside of "acceptanced norms".
Oz [img]graemlins/angel.gif[/img] [/QB]
Oz, you're being very diplomatic...IMO...
The "acceptanced norms" of this urbanized, quarterly-profit-at-
all-costs "society"? are pretty inhuman and are devised by
pretty cold people with very pathetic personal lives....IMO
$.02...
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