I joined the race league for all the right reasons, I swear. It’s an excuse to hit the slopes on a Thursday night, when otherwise I’d be home staring out the window feeling cooped up. It’s a way for me, usually so reserved, to meet like-minded people – each one a potential ski buddy. And, the league is definitely not serious, which is good because the last time I raced was in middle school. A little non-competitive exercise in the local beer league. Sounds perfect, right?
Beer league has created a monster.
My drive to the mountain is spent in eager anticipation, fingers drumming the steering wheel as I navigate the commuter traffic coming out of Burlington. I talk to my mother on speaker phone, catching her up on my day and my strategies for the night’s races. A few hours later, my drive home is spent reliving the gates, mentally scrutinizing each turn.
(If I initiate my turns a fraction of a second too late, causing a slide and scramble, I have dump speed to make the next gate. The trick is to initiate early and stay hugged in tight to the gate. But, the killer is the last gate, where the course flattens even as it flows into the finish line. I lose acceleration every time, a symptom of being too small on skis that ride too soft. I’m losing power like water through a sieve and it’s driving me crazy.)
I log my times in my phone that night before I join my teammates in the bar. Friday morning, when the official email hits my inbox, I drop everything to calculate my rank against the field. After only two nights of racing, I can tell that it doesn’t matter what time I post. All I will want is to go faster, faster, and faster still.
Now, every Thursday my bright yellow boots will stand guard in the corner of my office, keeping me company. They are a constant, welcome reminder that there’s a pair of skis in a car in the parking lot waiting… just waiting… to slide up to the starting gate.
Sadly, it’s currently -8º in Bolton. They closed early last night, so there’s a good change they’ll close again tonight. I might have to wait another week to get my speed fix… How will I survive?