I started skiing in 1989 at age 30 and early on I wanted to be an expert. I wasn’t sure what defined an expert other than some vague idea about being able to “ski anything.” What is an expert skier?
I recently skied with my six-year-old for the first time on a black rated trail. Gore’s Sagamore is essentially a long blue trail with two black pitches. Skiing it doesn’t make my daughter an expert. She’s an advanced beginner who skied expert terrain. Expert status is about how you get down not what you get down.
I did a little research and found a definition:
“Expert skiers are adept at handling varied terrain and different snow conditions. The terrain may include steeps, trees, and moguls, or a combination of the three. Snow conditions might include hard pack, ice, crud, or powder, as well as groomed or ungroomed snow.
Expert skiing requires quick adjustments to speed, turn radius, and balance to maintain control at all times.”
Over the past week, many skiers were excited to see video, images, and trip reports of skin tracks and powder from the forests of West Virginia. I saw them, and they were awesome for any time of year, let alone late October.
That joy we enjoyed on the backside stood in sharp contrast to the awful side of the storm that our neighbors faced at the front.
And now, the news cycle is turning the page to other stories about blue and red states. As the mainstream media and public suffer from disaster fatigue, the story of Sandy will inevitably be swept aside. In the process there are devastated communities that will also be brushed from our consciousness.
Advertisers spend a lot of time trying to fuse the words “effortless” and “skiing.” Flip to an ad for Beaver Creek in Ski Magazine and you’ll probably find a pampered skier making silky turns across a canvas of untracked corduroy. Just like a professional dancer, he or she has probably trained for years to produce a smooth performance.
Enter Bode Miller. He may be popular with the ladies, but his skiing is anything but smooth. Just listen to the yelling in the start house as Miller prepares to throw his body through every turn in the course ahead. The finesse is there, but he’s not afraid to look like he’s trying.
Miller’s win in the World Cup downhill shouldn’t be a surprise. He put together an exceptionally smooth run, betraying his fight against physics only a couple of times. The guy knows what he’s doing and last week at Beaver Creek, he served up a reminder to fans and competitors alike that he’s still got it.