Clint Eastwood once said it best in one of the Dirty Harry movies: “A man’s got to know his limitations.” As I flounder through middle age, I like to think that I know mine, but as I am frequently reminded by my better half, I don’t. Evidently it’s not ok for me to free climb my way onto our super-steep roof to spray yellow jacket nests when it’s 105 degrees out. Not sure why, because it seems perfectly sensible in theory. Anyway, the same logic applies to skiing. There are just some things that I should no longer do on the hill, even if my ego tells me I can.
Like any kid who grew up skiing, I absolutely loved going off of jumps. Few things compare to that feeling of excitement in your gut as you approached the rim of whatever rad bump you were trying to launch off of. And even if you totally exploded on impact, it never seemed to hurt. I’m here to tell ya, those days are gone. Now, I nearly soil my trousers if I catch a whopping two inches of air off of the grooming overlap berm and have to stop and ensure I didn’t also blow out an ACL in the process. No, keep the sticks on the snow—it’s way safer. It’s that or invest in some adult diapers. As a side note, they fit great and come in many colors.
Closing Down the Bar and Still Making First Chair
A lifetime ago, one of my favorite après ski activities was throwing back “a few” cold barley pops with my compadres after a day on the mountain. More often than not, this usually ended with us staying until closing, leaving only when threatened by the bar staff. Despite this behavior, we always seemed to rally at dawn and make it up to the hill early to catch first chair. Today, if I even stay up past 9 p.m., chances are slim that I will be able to get up early enough to make it to the mountain in time to get a parking spot in the main lot. Add a couple of adult beverages to this formula, and I guarantee I will forget my pants and my boots.
Having spent a good chunk of my skiing career on hard snow with race sticks on my feet, I will admit I have a thing for speed. I used to wait patiently at the top of a run for it to clear so I could go at it as fast as I wanted without the need to worry about other skiers. While waiting I would visualize where I wanted to execute my turns and count out how many to make. Today, if I forget that I have premature arthritic knees and let the dogs run like I used to, the only thing I start calculating is the difference between my medical insurance deductible and the balance of my checking account—minus the co-pay. This usually slows me down.
Hiking for Turns
There is nothing better than a powder day, especially when most of the freshies can be had by riding the lift. The downside of this is that the mountain gets tracked out by mid-morning, and you can either hike for the goodness or go home. I used to choose the former and was frequently rewarded for my hard work with seemingly endless fresh turns. Now, whenever I see a group of die-hards trudging their way up some distant ridgeline, a small part of me cries with envy. The rest of me thinks, “Damn, that looks exhausting” or “Better them than me.” Rather than spending the afternoon doing likewise, I hustle home to catch an episode of Antiques Roadshow and a nap. Spoiler alert: Season 15 is amazing.