I had a rude awakening over the summer. There I was, deep in the bowels of our basement back room, rummaging for life jackets, inner tube pumps, and what was left of my sanity when I came across my ski bag. Hoping that whatever treasure I sought was located under it, I grabbed the bag with the intent of chucking it elsewhere. I chose poorly. It landed short, bounced off the life jacket I was looking for, and landed directly on my foot. What followed was a litany of exclamations infused with sentence enhancers that would make a sailor blush. They were heard throughout the house, across the lake, and possibly from the space station.
“What the heck was that, and are you ok?” asked my better half from somewhere upstairs. I told her what happened. “You’re turning into a grumpy old skier – You know that, right?” she said while holding back a snicker. “Getting hurt by your ski bag is a sure sign.” Ok, she might be right—well, she’s always right. For those of you out there who might be wondering if you have crossed the point of no return, keep an eye out for these five signs that you have become a grumpy old skier like me.
1) The week before opening day, you take four pair of skis to your local ski shop. Each pair needs a full tune, including a stone grind. Though booked, the guys tell you they can squeeze you in, mainly because you provide them with cheap entertainment every time you come in. Like every year, you complain about the $50 per pair price, and go on to tell them how you used to do your own tuning back in the day. You know, back when skis were straight and had very little edge bevel. Like in the 1980’s. They encourage you to take up this practice once again. They might also refer to you as “Mr.”
2) It takes an hour and a half to get to the lodge, which means you have the car packed and ready to go three hours early. Despite this fact, you leave ten minutes late because of that green banana and extra cup of coffee you had for breakfast. You grumble for at least the first half hour of the drive, swearing that there will be no additional stops. But there are. Because you had that extra coffee. Add a stop for an egg McMuffin. And gas. The last two miles take nearly 20 minutes because you get stuck behind the ski bus. It takes a crowbar, WD-40 and a plumber’s wrench to get your fingers pried off the steering wheel.
3) You finally arrive at the mountain at the same time as everyone else. You immediately begin growling about how long it takes folks to park, how the lot kid directs them, and finally how far away you are from the lodge. Plus, there is no shuttle. Once parked, you can’t help but notice the annoying thump, thump of bass from the car parked next to you. It’s hard not to notice as you can feel your fillings coming loose. You tell yourself this would not be a problem if it were Steve Miller Band’s “The Joker” blasting.
4) Once you shuffle your way up to the lodge and get in the lift line, you notice that the entire ski school is in front of you, with their students in tow. You immediately begin to share your displeasure with the unfortunate soul who made the unwise decision to ski with you. What normally would be a five-minute line takes a whopping ten. C’mon, bro, you only shelled out $300 for that season pass, and will likely have it paid off before Christmas. A few extra minutes in the lift line ain’t gonna kill ya.
5) As an accomplished skier who perfected the Stem Christie during the tail end of the 20th Century, you still believe you are hot poop. That image is shattered when some ten-year-old kid rips past you like you are standing still and lays down perfect railroad tracks. Rather than applaud the kid’s technique, you launch into a dissertation on how shaped skis have allowed the younger generation to skip the far more challenging learning stage of skiing that you experienced on waxed two-by-fours and how the sport will be negatively affected in the long run. The folks skiing with you slowly back away, the smell of bull poop thick in the air. //
Brad Northrup is a former ski racer, coach, and resort marketing director. He has embraced the fact that he has become a grumpy old skier.