The Ski Journal www.theskijournal.com, is holding a writing contest, with Warren Miller as the judge. Entries must be original and relay the writer’s first time ever on skis. I love the idea for this contest. And not just because Warren will read the entries. Remembering my first day on skis has been a mini-ritual, forcing me to recall just exactly what made me want to make this sport my own in the first place.
It snowed hard that day, and I wore my new blue Powder Pigs hat with my name stitched in red yarn on the forehead. The hat alone should have been enough. Or the embroidered patch on my shoulder. Either one. But that wasn’t quite it either. What made me choose skiing–not only as a sport, but as a life–was catching snowflakes on my tongue. As I rode the chairlift, its appalling speed forcing the snow into my face with Star Wars-like graphics, I experienced the pure joy of tilting my head back and letting come what may. There is a freedom in that.
At first glance, skiing seems like an impossible endeavor. The skis are wide and long, the angles are steep and the weather is darn cold. And that’s not to mention the sheer unlikeliness of even being able to turn in deep snow. I’m not afraid to admit that there’s a magic to it. I could explain the physics of skis–how when turned on their edge a ski carves naturally, how the width under foot allows a ski to float through powder–but I’m not going to. Because to explain the magic in terms of physics just ruins it.
Instead, I think of Warren Miller’s description of a ski turn as a “taste of total freedom”. There’s really no other way to describe it. And Warren’s rhythmic cadence and witty voice capture it best. My husband’s father, Everett Kircher, knew Warren way back in the day at Boyne Mountain, and still Warren feels a bit like a part of the family. But I’m sure that’s true for many skiers. Even the ones that have never met him in person.
So I’m honored to cast my entry into the First Time Ever on Skis Contest: http://www.theskijournal.com/news/2010/11/05/first-day-ever-an-essay-contest-with-warren-miller. If nothing else, it reminds me, with ski season just around the corner, why I wait, watching the sky for snowflakes, hoping to catch a little taste of freedom on my tongue.