Vail Daily columnist Warren Miller: Some skiers miss point of the sport
Ryan Summerlin March 8, 2013
It is snowing really big snowflakes outside and there is not a breath of wind – a perfect day to make sure your goggles are shined up and your entire body is all tuned up and ready to enjoy a perfect day like this one promises to be.
If you want the best equipment to handle each condition of snow, then you can do what a money manager friend of mine does.
In his ski closet at his ski-in, ski-out home, he has pair No. 1 for hard-packed granular; pair No. 2 for freshly groomed powder; pair No. 3 he uses in one inch of new powder; pair No. 4 is for skiing in four-five inches of powder; pair No. 5 is for six inches of powder; pair No. 6 is when there is a foot of new powder; pair No. 7 is for skiing chutes when there is six inches or more of new powder; and pair No. 8 is when the ski patrol starts opening runs after a foot of new snow. (He never skis on ice, so he has no skis for that one snow condition.)
The cosmetics on the top of all of his skis are identical. He had the artwork designed by a well-known artist in Venice, Calif., and the decals of the artwork were done by a very good decal-maker in Seattle.
All of the skis and decals were created so that not very many of his friends would know that he has and uses different pairs of skis for each kind of snow condition he gets to ski in, or on.
Unfortunately, the resort where his home is located has built too many lifts to the top of their mountain, so any time he skis after 10 in the morning, he will need his hard-packed granular skis. There is just too much traffic on the mountain right in the middle of his comfort zone.
There is a reason why some people spend their entire ski career on a mountain that to a stranger is boring by the time they make their fifth run. But my friend knows where to park his car, where to eat lunch, where the after-ski drinks are both potent and cheap, where to get his edges sharpened, and just as important, where to take his current spousal equivalent for a quiet booth and a candlelight dinner.
I think my friend with all of the skis has missed the most important reason to go skiing: When you are at the top of a hill, you are all set for a journey of freedom. You can go as fast or as slow as your mood takes you.
The self-imposed “I’ve got to be somewhere else” is a self-fulfilling prophecy to a life of chaos.
While I talked with a very nice family from Hong Kong the other day, the father said, “We have to start heading back tomorrow.”
When I asked him, “Why?” he had no answer.
When I used to take my children with me on a filming trip, I told their teachers that a day in the powder snow was a lot more important than a day in their seats in geometry.
They can study their geometry when the ski lifts shut down. I don’t think I have any educationally challenged children because of that lifestyle.
Unfortunately, the family from Hong Kong arrived home as scheduled, but all three children and his wife missed all-time days of untracked powder snow! A day full of memories like those can never be relived, but if experienced will never be forgotten.
When was the last time you skied on a Monday or Tuesday, or both? You really owe it to yourself because the work that is waiting for you can wait another couple of days. Why not?
I know that I led a very irresponsible youth and it is easy to blame it on whatever I want to blame it on. Like having an alcoholic father and spending four years in the Navy during World War II and getting sunk in a typhoon a week before the atom bomb was dropped on Hiroshima.
I saved most of my Navy pay, and all I needed was a place to cook meals and sleep out of the rain and snow and my health. I found them wherever Ward Baker and I parked our trailer and we could somehow get on a chairlift.
Since that first day in the powder snow at Alta, Utah, at the end of 1946, I have seldom missed a chance to forget everything except being the first at the top of the mountain on a powder snow day.
For a lot of those powder snow days, my skis were for my transportation to get to the best camera location to document skiers doing the thing I have been preaching to my audiences, finding their freedom and bringing back those images for my annual tour and for the thousands of people who have supported my lifestyle all of these years when they bought a ticket to one or more of my movies.
Do any of them need half a dozen or more pairs of skis? I don’t think so. Just warm clothes and a couple of ski lessons to handle whatever snow is waiting for you on your next ski trip.
I can hardly wait to take my next ski run with my wife Laurie who is such a good skier that I can’t begin to keep up with her. However, she always waits for me at the bottom, and your friends will wait for you at the bottom, too, so enjoy every turn!
Filmmaker Warren Miller lived in Vail for 12 years, and his column began in the Vail Daily before being syndicated to more than 50 publications. For more of Miller’s stories and stuff, log onto warren
miller.net. For information about his foundation, The Warren Miller Freedom Foundation, go to www.warrenmiller.org.