Surveys cite high cost as the main reason people avoid skiing. Those who think this way haven’t made the commitment.
Skiing is not about lift tickets. It’s a lifestyle. It’s being a skier, an identity not felt just between November and April but all year. After being christened, skiers find ways to make it happen. Cost is relative when you’re dedicated.
I remember the very moment the soul of skiing entered my blood. It was 1956 at Winter Park, Colorado. A fledgling on the bunny slopes, I was warming up in the base lodge with friends from the Eskimo Ski Club. Just as I was thinking I’d never become a skier, Josephine, the most popular girl in class, burst onto the scene with three boys. With a dramatic sweep of her hand, Jo brushed fresh snow from her hair and announced, “It’s snowing up top.”
Up top. Those words became a metaphor for what I seek to this day every time I ski – the melding of mind and body, the elegance of a perfect turn, the soothing of my soul in the beauty of winter. The spirit of skiing compels me to look for peaks beyond, to aspire higher.
When I married a man who was a ski racer in high school and college, skiing became the strongest bond in our life. Family getaways to our condo at Steamboat were unquestionably the happiest times of our marriage. Our five children followed us around the mountain like little ducklings, until, of course, they realized they could go faster and ski in the trees.
Skiing is about packing the car for long weekends, candy breaks in the woods, games by the night fire, and walks in the moon glow to the ice cream shop. It’s finding a lost mitten and learning to carry your own equipment.
My mountain memories are priceless.
I know my children felt the spirit as deeply as we did. When they mingled their father’s ashes with the dirt of our favorite ski run at Steamboat, my daughter said, “He’ll love the view.”
Vail and Beaver Creek will host the World Alpine Ski Championships in 2015. The "Worlds" are the Super Bowl and the World Series of Alpine ski racing, even more important than the Winter Olympics where skiing is only one of many sports. Beaver Creek's Birds of Prey course—built for the 1999 Worlds— is one of the most difficult on the men's World Cup circuit.
I remember well when Vail/Beaver Creek hosted in 1989 and 1999. The first year, I was there on crutches from a ligament pull I suffered in Telluride the week before. But that didn't keep me from attending the outdoor opening ceremonies called "A Night of Dreams." It was New Year's Eve and the Fourth of July all rolled into one magical night. The Colorado Children's Chorale sang "When You Wish Upon a Star" while thousands of balloons bearing cards with wishes of children from Crans-Montana, Switzerland—site of the previous championships; Vail, and Saalbach, Austria, where the 1991 Worlds were scheduled—were released. Attached to each balloon was a green glo-stick that sparkled with the stars as they floated into the clear night sky.
This was followed by the parade of athletes, and then an entertainment extravaganza that began with a 200-skier torchlight parade down Golden Peak. Then came a choreographed production by 40 rhythmic gymnasts and music distinctively American including the World Championship Fanfare, composed by John Williams who created the themes from Stars Wars and Indiana Jones movies. An awe-inspiring lazer show on the mountain and the best fireworks show ever were highlights of the unforgettable evening.
In 1999, I remember the opening ceremonies missed the mark. It was a sort of rodeo-meets-Las Vegas campy production, and I and many of the other spectators were disappointed. Let's hope the Vail/BC creative teams come up with an over-the-top event in 2015 like the first one!