It’s a little bit funny that this blog is, still, remains, a ski blog. It’s funny because I have a really, really hard time writing about skiing.
But I can’t show you skiing.
I can’t describe the way the world drops dead the moment before one drops over a cornice and into a field of moguls. How the universe contracts and expands to encompass just the line – your line – through the mounds that rise and fall at their own leisure, not yours.
Maybe I can explain this:
One of the first runs we took lead us through a copse of trees called Half Moon. Early on, the grade pitches down, snow caked against a rock face. There is a left line and a right line. Neither is particularly narrow or long. A couple of turns, then out. No biggie.
Left line, two turns and I’m down. Thrown backwards and twisted so that my skis are above me, momentum pulling me down, down. Still sliding, I (panicked) barrel roll and, with my skis below me, I brake to a halt. A few seconds, that’s all.
My ski partner laughs and compliments my “smooth recovery.” Let this be a lesson to you; barrel rolls are always cool.
This fall is my achilles heel. It’s happened, moment by moment, dozens of times before and with the same result. I try to dump speed, I fall. The fall is always caused by imbalance, my weight thrown toward the wrong place at the wrong time. It’s incredibly frustrating. Even in the moment, it feels like a rookie mistake that I’ve been on skis too long to make.
I dust myself off, emptying the snow from my coat.
And we skied off.
We skied hard pack, we skied trees. We dropped off the sharp rim of Zuma Bowl. I pointed us down mogul runs until Brian, respectfully, started to decline and met me at the lift.
Maybe I can explain this, too.
I like the way moguls, perhaps more than any other terrain, force you to adhere to their path, bending you and your skis to their will. I like the way that if you ski them and ski them well, then in a way… your rhythm, your heart beats in time with that of the mountain.
But maybe Hemingway said all that needs to be said about skiing. It really is better than anything else.
It’s dumped something like five feet in Vermont in the span of a week, while here it’s hardpack and heavy, sun-warmed cement. I don’t mind. A day in the mountains is a good day to be alive.