Ode to Skiing

Skiing is exhilarating. The combination of breathtaking views and breathtaking exercise both come to fruition in the fact that frozen water is slippery. There are probably four types of skiing: alpine, downhill, classic, and skate skiing, the latter three of which I participate in. The skis for each are different, as are the techniques and muscles involved. As you learn each, you come to find that there are muscles you never knew you had, in gratitude at built strength or in soreness. The movement involved is unnatural, yet it allows you to cover ground much faster than you would otherwise be able to. You can cross snowy expanses when you would otherwise be mired in a frozen drift. You can stay afloat in the sea of snow, descend near vertical cliffs, and cross ravines and gullies all while you float over logs and boulders. Each movement has an element of push and slide to it. In classic skiing, it is to spring forward off your tenuous grip on the snow through fish-scales or wax and slide forward as far as you may. In skate skiing, it is to push with the strength of your legs for a v-shaped glide. In downhill, it is to push against the snow and gravity to arrest your breakneck descent and control your direction from what could otherwise be perfect disaster. In this there is the greatest delight in acceleration and danger avoided, while in the other two there is the deep seated satisfaction of accomplishing each and every kilometer you have.

You can pause while skiing to take in the views and panoramas of the world dormant, the rarefied heights that reveal to you the entirety of the world, the perfect silence of a dormant world. Snow at least seems to dampen the sound of the world. This may be physically true although I have never looked, but it also has to do with the dormancy of the world. The temperatures and short days drive most creators of small noises away or into torpor, and the lack of cheery sound is noticeable. It is a strange peace to feel in the near absence of life around you. It is, I suppose, the peace of sleep, that while the world is silent, all the potential and strength of life remains rejuvenating even as it slumbers. The rest is a thin veil over vibrant energy. In skiing, you can move far into the forest away from the bustle of human activity. Here you can hear.

The white colors are an immaculate compliment to the greens of evergreen trees, the browns, grays, whites, and silvers of bark. At this time of year and particularly when you are skiing, you come to appreciate the varied beauty of the bones of the trees. The conifers shine in glory that is otherwise eclipsed in the flowers of spring and brilliance of fall.

As you move on from your brief rest, the world begins to move by. You zone into the effort of good exercise to push yourself along, or you reach the speed of cars as you accelerate down the slopes. Since skiing is very dependent on form, you are rewarded by concentration and improvement on this. Your brain can be fully engaged in controlling yourself, finding the best path, avoiding the obstacles in your path, deciding among all of the delights that are and will soon be had from run to food to activities. At the back of your mind, there is also the eternal reward and hope of warming up when you have finished your adventures.