Back on the Slopes

Posted by Eric Sun, 19 Jan 2003 00:00:00 GMT

In high school, I loved to ski. But for the past 8 or 9 years, I've stayed away from the mountains, thanks to procrastination and cold toes. Last Sunday, I tossed my skis in the car and drove 20 minutes to the local mountain.

Skiing is like riding a bicycle; you don't forget. The turns, the feel of the snow, even the dull rattling sound of the chairlifts--it all comes back. The physical conditioning, unfortunately, takes a bit longer. In the winter of 1994, I worked out 8 to 10 hours per week. Today, I write software for a living and make it to the gym rarely. So I have the skiing skills of an aggressive high school athlete, and the body of an all-to-sedentary adult.

But as you get older, you learn a trick or two. One of the most valuable tricks is to ease up on the brute force, and to use your strength wisely. Everything's easier if you let the mountain do the hard work. Don't jam your skis into the turns; adapt to the rhythm of the mountain.

Today I made a small breakthrough in skiing the bumps. My skis are 198 centimeters long, with a very shallow sidecut--not an ideal mogul ski in a world of 165 centimeter parabolic skis, which create ridiculously tiny bumps. I've never been able to turn my skis in the narrow grooves between the moguls. But today I tried going faster, and learned that each bump would give me enough power to get my skis airborne (clear of the groove), and turn them before hitting the next bump. It's a tiny victory--I can't ski more than half a dozen bumps before my legs start to burn, and I'm the merest novice--but it feels like a dance with the mountain. This is why I pay too much for ski tickets.

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