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A brief essay on skiing - for entertainment purposes

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 
Skiing: Art or science?

Or perhaps both? What defines skiing? It is perhaps a study in spirituality; when everything can be slowed to a single pinpoint focus, an epic moment, stored forever on the moviescreen of your mind. A moment that is yours to recall at your will. A moment that was free of all extraneous movement, just purely functional and beautiful and a perfect fit for the task at hand. A moment that means you just learned something. A Kodak moment?

The existence of that moment means that a set of scientific facts and conditions were fulfilled at that moment. We may not understand fully the science that went into making the moment happen, so we use the technology of digital video to capture that moment and examine it in all it's beauty. We pause, we ffw, we rew. We examine the science and physics of that moment and the time that goes before and after. We begin to develop a conscious understanding of what is going on. We develop exercises to take home with us for our dryland training: plyometrics, calisthenics, muscle movement analysis... we doggedly pursue the blissful union of body and mind that comes with the enlightened state that exercise brings us. We see our podiatrists for custom orthotic insoles. We punch our boots, we grind them. We are examined for skeletal alignment and bodily symmetry. Our chiropractor keeps our body in balance. Our massage therapist soothes and revitalizes our muscles.

More science:

The laws of skiing are based in physics. Vectors, arcs, centrifugal force, inertia, gravity, levers, fulcrums, tangents. An understanding of the physics in skiing is an important tool in increasing skiing performance. Skiers, after all, are objects in motion, compelled ever downward by the force of gravity and the slipperyness of the snow. The physics of skiing represent perfection in skiing. When all the body parts are perfectly aligned and moving perfectly requisite to what is happening at that exact moment, then the tools of the trade, your skis, can perform as perfect machines. Or at least as perfect as the imperfect human they're attached to can get.

Flying an airplane is pure science. Now, you pilots out there could and should argue that there is a certain "zen" to flying. After all, the very first folks to take to the air weren't thinking "Man, if I can get this thing to fly, I can make a whole bunch of money flying people around the world!" No, they watched the birds and thought "I wanna do that!" Yeah, there's gotta be a certain "zen" to flying, but the machine itself has to be perfect science, because if every single mechanical function on today's plane can't be identified and explained scientifically, then we're gonna have a buncha nice innocent people dumped in the ocean.

Us skiers, however, are not perfect machines. We can think, though, and have the capacity to "understand" body movements. But true motor function learning can happen only in real life. You have to both understand and FEEL something to truly learn it.

That element of "feel" is where art comes in. If we can define art as an expression of emotion, then skiers are truly artists of the highest order, some quite unwittingly.

Watch "good" skiers and try to identify what emotions and feelings they are expressing through their skiing. Confidence? Aggressiveness? Joy? Committment? Dedication?
Watch not-so-good skiers. What are they expressing? Fear? Tension? The need to vomit?

Try to compare their posture and bodily attitude. Good skiers are tall at the right times and small at the right times. They are supple and appear to flow down the mountain like maple syrup oozing over the bumps. They look relaxed, but committed. Not-so-good: Tight. Stiff. Jerky movements. Defensive, hunched posture.

What are YOU expressing?

Skiing is art. The skiers create beautiful moving pictures zooming across a tilted and frozen landscape. Viewed from afar, they are tiny ant-like dots creeping along a massive white canvas. Up close, there is turmoil. Faces hard against the cold wind, the skiers battle downward, fighting to find a pleasing path through gravity's doorway. Edge your way closer, look right inside, listen to the artist as he commands his tools to do his bidding. Listen to the artist as body and mind unite, as science is intertwined with art to create the most amazing moving spectacle known to man. (At least those of us who ski)

Thanks. 72 out.
post #2 of 7
ihaveasecret, that is so very beautiful that I do not want to add any other comment - just want to sit here and enjoy it, print it out, read it again. Thank you for sharing your thoughts, your feelngs, and your expression. You have my respect and empathy.
post #3 of 7
That was beautiful.
post #4 of 7
very eloquent IHTS
Maybe that's why I like skiing and archery too. Science and technology take us to one point and the rest it is us. Fallible Humans... My bow shoots much better than I ever can. My skis carve better than I ever can. I'm just trying to get the most out of both.
post #5 of 7
wow IHTS, ive never seen anyone go fruity on me so fast. you make one post that says 1 bad word (gasp!!) and then you come back all poser-like to fit in, come on man, stand up for yourself. thats my art-science-whatever lesson for the day

p.s. if you got a really cheesy signature like "the best skier is the one with the biggest smile" (property 0f Utah49) it would make you look really cool and fit in really fast!!
post #6 of 7

Don't sell pilots short.

I once watched a German WW II ace fly his sailplane at an air show. He did it to classical music. He called it "The Wings of Man".

When he was done, there was not a dry eye in the house. Pure poetry.

I have flown with a few old guys who have taken it to an art.
post #7 of 7
IHTS - it is always a pleasure to meet someone who enjoys English as much as skiing!

(g-dubs - I'm sure IHTS is quite capable to compose a long line of four-letter words for you instead to fit in with you - he has all my respect for chosing differently. If you believe that his post is not a sincere expression and is nothing but a pose motivated by desire to fit in with other English+skiing lovers I challenge you to come up with your own version of fake "fruity" essay on the joys of skiing that at least doesn't include the word "sick" and some other four-letter words - and let us judge if your fake "poser's attempt to fit in" was as successful with the rest of the crowd on this thread... Come on man, stand up for yourself! Read a book or two! If anything, this exercise may improve your verbal SAT scores )
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