Skiing Principles for Life

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I was fortunate enough to have learned how to ski very young. In fact, my first real season of ski was spent in 1972 here at Gstaad (Switzerland) where I have joined my father for this Christmas.

With skis that bespeak my age of yore (2.03M Salomon tapered skis that weigh a ton), I still had immense pleasure to glide down the slopes once more. With time for reflection in the chair lifts and a magnificent scenery of white-tipped mountains, I pondered life. And, I came up with a few ski-induced principles for life.

Skiing, like life, is ultimately an individual experience. Even when you think you are skiing with a group, the levels are always different and you frequently get split up by the lifts if you don’t get lost on the slopes.

Even if you choose to ski “hard all day,” you may never really enjoy the ride, much less the view.

Skiing well demands years of learning and some humility.

You must learn to fall.

Good preparation is vital for a good day.

There is the beaten path and the off-beat path, with predictable profiles or results for both. Skiing the groomed paths is akin to taking the path of traditional values… of the known, of the safe, of certain aesthetics; but, it also suggests to me the easy life: minimal bumps. The “hors piste” (ie backwoods) for the “hors catégorie” or life’s fringe material. The risk takers, the long-haired folk… possible entrepreneurs.

It is a sport to be enjoyed by both sexes equally, and all ages can get a kick out of it. It can also be a family affair, a great spot for pals to get together; even a way for someone to find solitary time (take a long walk up a random mountain with skis on your back!).

Some slopes look so easy far afar, but once you are on them, you see that the slope wasn’t greener (colour code given to easy slopes on ski maps). .

There are protocols to follow, but these are more or less respected according to the culture (especially with regard to queueing, for example).

The activity of skiing is enhanced by the after-ski, where you are left being you, with time to chatter, to reflect and eat well.

Skiing is expensive.

And, on another note:

Yodelling is good for the heart.

Wear protection especially when you don’t know what you are getting into.

Pee in the snow. Leave your “footprint”.

Go easy with the powder.

Renting is likely to be cheaper than buying — unless you know you are in it for the long haul.

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Of course, I could bore you with how skiing is not like life…seasonal, elitist, ski tickets grow on trees (as far as kids are concerned…).

And what of being inherently painful? Putting on those boots on the second day after skiing, where the bottom of the calf muscle feels like it was hit by a hockey puck.

Anyway, some cause for thought.

5 Comments, RSS

  1. Goose

    hence: Surfing. all that waiting offshore is like the reverse of sitting on the ski lift. how often is the view behind you so much better than the view ahead on a ski lift? and how hard is it to enjoy said view on a full chair, without poking someone with your pole, losing a glove or hat, bonking heads or (if young) sliding through the safety bar (do they have such things in the swiss alps?). a thought i’ve always carried whilst skiing. when on a ski lift, it feels like i’ve ALWAYS been on a ski lift. like nothing else has happened between rides up the hill. bizarre, i know. and very similar to the metaphysicality of waiting for that wave to bring you to shore. just a bit colder.

  2. Sarah

    It seems that the Swiss have introduced speed cameras on the pistes in an attempt to reduce the number of accidents. In fact it was suggested by the insurance companies.

    In The Times online, there was much criticism and resentment, but a piste is like a road – you have to drive according to conditions and behave in a social manner. Anarchy costs money!

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