Skiing is a Sport for the Rich and Powerful, and a Handful of Lucky Bums Like Me, Winter Series 3 of 5
This article is the third in a five-part a series on why I now love winter.
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, CO- Skiing is a sport where you have to ask yourself: have I spent enough money, and enough time, to be good at it? Some people are naturally good at basketball. Others are naturally good at skiing. Yet skiing is a sport available to a small percentage of the population, namely, privileged individuals, and even then, they need to dedicate far more personal resources to excelling at skiing than they would to excel at basketball. You need transportation to get to the mountain, you need conditions to be right to be able to ski, you need to be able to pay for cold weather gear, you need to be able to pay for skis or a snowboard, a lift ticket, food on the mountain—there is so much preparation that goes into a day of skiing that it’s a wonder anyone actually does it.
Once you’re outfitted with all of your gear, however, it’s game on. Knowing that it snowed a foot last night and will be 10-20 degrees all day means that I’ll take more time in the morning getting ready—making sure I eat a bigger breakfast, savor my hot morning coffee, and surely put on my best pair of long underwear. I’m breaking out my favorite pair of socks and definitely wearing my waterproof ski pants. It pales in comparison to how I would have dressed for the weather back in November, just how prepared I am for it now. And once you're prepared, it's time to play.
And it turns out that a little preparation makes all the difference in the world. The wind whipping right through you when you're on a chairlift doesn't affect you as much. You’re not bone-chillingly cold, because you’ve prepared yourself to deal with the elements. You’ve set yourself back to baseline, the baseline you might experience on a warm spring morning, where there’s really no elemental excuse for you to not go on that run. Everything is ready and waiting for you, it’s up to you to take advantage of it. So, now that the cold is not an issue, what are you to do with winter?
The short answer is, go skiing. Sure, it’s an affluent white man’s sport, reserved for the top one percent of our society. I do get that. But there is also a large class of “ski bums” that have chosen to concentrate our work, lives, and play in a place where you can really enjoy winter. Instead of slaving away at jobs that we don’t like in order to save up the little bit of cash necessary to buy all of the equipment to go skiing, including rentals and day passes, we’ve made it our day-to-day routine. Skiing is a sport that isn’t really worth doing unless you’re doing it right.
It’s not something that you can casually do and still enjoy. The passion comes from mastering the sport and finding yourself in the rhythm of the winter season. It’s the difference from playing a pickup game of baseball with your friends, and joining a Sunday morning league, where you can appreciate the rhythm of the game, comparing your performance and enjoyment level from one week to the next and gauging how you’ve gotten better. It’s not just how you’ve done today, it’s how you’ve done today versus how you did last week, and the week before.
I always enjoyed skiing, but I was never really good enough to understand why everyone else liked it so much. It was something that I could do that was fun in the wintertime, something that got me outside with my blood flowing, enjoying myself. My goal for this ski season was to make every other ski trip for the rest of my life worth it, and I think I accomplished that. Skiing comes a lot more naturally now than it did a few months ago, and I know how to approach each trip for the rest of my life. I’m now open to the idea of living somewhere cold during the winter…yes, so that I can ski. For someone like myself that’s always looked to cut corners to save a little bit of money, it’s something that’s hard to understand, but skiing is something you need to invest in to enjoy it. You need the right clothes, the right equipment, and you need to recognize that you’ll be spending a bit of money to enjoy what you’re doing. But once you do that, it’s worth it, because you’re playing a game of softball—not just having a catch.