Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Beast: Our Winter Playground

For some reason I have an extremely vivid memory of skiing as a child. If I could figure out why that is I woud definately use it to remember what I skied yesterday or last week, but alas, I am stuck with the happy memories of skiing as a child. It is interesting now, looking back, as to what things stand out and other things that have merely slipped away into oblivion. Some parents have asked me for ideas about where to take their young athletes skiing; I think that perhaps we should look back and see what we all remember and help the next generation to look at skiing with that same sense of cherished nostalgia.

My first and greatest memories of skiing were mogul fields with my dad. As we came to a tricky section where I was sure to be a mess (i.e. the cranky and whiny kid from our nightmares), he would grab me, place me between his legs, and start singing "Bibbidy Bobbidy Boo" with every ounce of enthusiasm. I'm not sure if my dad initiated this policy because he was trying to protect us or if he just enjoyed the silliness of it all, but I can tell you that I still sing that stupid song when I ski the bumpies. In light of today's injury paranoia, I am amazed that my dad never blew his ACL out or that he never fell on me. But what I remember, a special moment during the run that only my dad and I could share, is something that still carries with me.

I also remember really wierd stuff, like how we begged and begged to ride the Needle's Eye Double Chair. It certainly wasn't to ski the few trails that went down there almost thirty years ago. It was to wait in the lift line. Yep. My sister and I loved to hang out in the sometimes hour long lift line at the Needle's Eye Double. There were these really crazy attendants who would stand up above the mass and tell jokes, shout out trivia questions and generally create much hooplah that would attract people from all walks of life. It is a very awesome thing to be able to experience the same thing as someone who is six times your age. Skiing is definately one of those sports; old and young laughing together and skiing together. Totally cool.

A few years ago, I took my four year old cousin to the Peak Peak. The Summit. It was her first time up the K1 without her Ministar group and she was just bursting at the seams. She wanted to show me everything that she knew, where this was, where that was. She wanted me to know that she knew what I knew. That seemed soooo important to her. So I had to treat her back. I half cajoled, half tricked her into hiking up to the summit. And she just sat there. There was relatively no wind and it was crystal clear. I showed her all the sights: she could see Rutland, Woodstock, Cooper's Cabin, Pico, Chittendon Reservoir...the list goes on. But then I said it was time to leave. She didn't even turn around to look at me; she just continued to sit there on the snow covered rock and whispered reverently, "I wish that we could just stay here. It's the most beautiful thing I've ever seen." And so together we sat.

There are so many wonderful things that we experience while skiing that sometimes we forget to just play and have fun with it all. I frequently took Hopefuls to the summit. Instead of reverence, the Peak became our playground. The athletes were jumping off rocks that in the summer are taller than them and jumping into snow that was deeper than them. There were snow caves and tunnels to explore, lots of fresh snow to eat, and snow slides in abundance. It was probably a little disconcerting to the young couple that was headed up for a romantic moment, but the mountain is our playground. We grow up here, it is our home. Instead of stuffed animals, we have powder. Instead of video games, we have skis & poles. It's not such a bad life, really :)

Location:Killington, VT

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