On this day, that would have been my Dad’s 89th birthday, I’m thinking of him, and of his favorite bit of ski wisdom: “All Snow is Good Snow.” As he got older, and he needed more urging than us to get out there in all conditions, he added, “…but some snow is better than other snow.” I was thinking of that part of his statement last week, while skiing in the pouring rain that did not dampen the spirits of the few, but very enthusiastic, kids who showed up for training.
I’m not going to lie: Sometimes I really struggle to embrace Dad’s philosophy, especially when contemplating going up on the hill from the comfort of a warm dry room. I wonder if I’m too old for this, and if it’s time to become the fair weather skier that is trapped inside my soul. But as everyone who is in the sport knows, once you get your boots on and get out there, you get suckered right back in.
This year, I’ve been fortunate enough to see and attend the spectrum of ski racing, from Men’s and Women’s World Cup racing at big resorts like Beaver Creek and Killington, to NCAA college carnival racing, to big field USSA races, to rope tow slaloms to last night’s Dual GS High School race at Crotched Mountain. They’ve all been brilliant in their own way, showcasing talent while bringing together a ski community that pitches in to make the races happen.
My most pleasant surprise so far has been the high school dual, run under the lights and in record time. It distilled ski racing to its pure essence of fun and competition. The field ran fast, the kids were psyched, the fastest ones dueled it out in a final and everybody got off the hill before frostbite set in. The results were tabulated before everyone had their boots off, and awards were packages of cookies, which were gratefully received and consumed on the bus ride home. I have always fully appreciated the excitement and intensity of high level racing, but the scene at Crotched offered an excellent complement, while also validating the entire spectrum of the sport. Alongside Dad’s wisdom I’d say, “All ski racing is good ski racing…and there’s something out there for everyone.”
As I write this it is 10 below zero. This afternoon, I will go out, grudgingly, to schlep gates up a slow chair at a small area. I will complain to myself and possibly curse out loud (trust me—there is nobody around to hear) when my drill gets stuck and the gates fall all over the place, and I realize that the sweat that does nothing to warm my hands and feet has rendered my goggles useless. I will wonder why I do this.
And then the kids will show up, full of energy and wanting to know how to go faster. Through their own frustration and falls and frozen toes they will be cheerful and grateful. When all the various groups are done, the coaches will come inside to warm up and everyone will have a few laughs in the lodge. I’ll head home in the evening thinking of Buck, and of how grateful I am that he got me in to this sport. And yeah, even at 10 below, and even after all my complaining, all snow is good snow.
Wherever you are, in whatever conditions, I hope you enjoy your snow today.