Quote of the Day:
“On the white below George dipped and rose and dipped out of sight. The rush and the sudden swoop as he dropped down a steep undulation in the mountainside plucked Nick’s mind out and left him only the wonderful flying, dropping sensation in his body. He rose to a slight up-run and then the snow seemed to drop out from under him as he went down, down, faster and faster in a rush down the last, long steep slope. Crouching so he was almost sitting back on his skis, trying to keep the center of gravity low, the snow driving like a sandstorm, he knew the pace was too much. But he held it. He would not let go and spill. Then a patch of soft snow, left in a hollow by the wind, spilled him and he went over and over in a clashing of skis, feeling like a shot rabbit, then stuck, his legs crossed, his skis sticking straight up and his nose and ears jammed full of snow.” —Ernest Hemingway, “Cross Country Snow”
TB just finished booking one helluva nice deal on a ski trip to Lake Tahoe for February. It will be my 5th ski trip, if you count hillbilly skiing as a trip, and I do. We leave in just thirty days. I’m in terrible shape, I don’t know where my gloves are, and most importantly I’m an awful skier. Man, I can’t wait.
Thinking about it, skiing might be the only thing in the world at which I am inept yet still love doing. You ought to see ol’ TB lumberin down the mountain. I must look like a navy blue, alien-eyed Baloo (The Jungle Book bear–we’re watching it a lot these days) barrellin headlong toward my doom. The thing is, I am athletic enough to stay on my feet for the most part, but completely ignorant of technique to do so without leaning this way and that or waving my arms in the air for the save. Stopping is also an adventure and I think part of the thrill. As soon as I begin down a hill I immediately scout far ahead for an open area where I can go into a prolonged skid. And as bad as I am, you might expect me to be cautious. Hell I AM cautious but when you combine 225 pounds with skis and snow and the combo gets dragged downhill by gravity I’ll have you know the descent is taken in haste.
Ahh, but every now and then I strike the right balance. I quit thinking and start reacting. I go fast. And there is nothing else going on in my world beyond sight of the next bump, the sound of the turn, the sensation of speed. The mind focuses only on survival, and is delighted at the challenge. It achieves its highest state of vigilance, distracted only enough to send a devilish grin to my lips. I forget to breathe and then I reach the bottom with a cry of exaltation and come to a perfect stop at the lift line, ready to recapture the moment but clueless on how I did it in the first place.
I’m ready to go now. I wish I could stay on the mountain a whole season to learn the skill, but I cannot. So if you happen to go skiing in Lake Tahoe in late February and you see a bear-like streak of blue weaving in your direction, I’d appreciate it if you could give me some space to maneuver. Better yet, just pull over and laugh. I won’t even notice.
Bonus QOTD from Cross-Country Snow
“There’s nothing really can touch skiing, is there?” Nick said.
“The way it feels when you first drop off on a long run.”
“Huh,” said George. “It’s too swell to talk about.”