Skiing ain’t football, that’s for sure |

Skiing ain’t football, that’s for sure

Tamara Miller

BEAVER CREEK – Ahh, skiing. It’s America’s favorite pastime.The crisp fall air, the sound of helmets crunching as linebackers race toward each other, the screams from the crowd when the announcer yells, “touchdown!”Oh, wait. That’s football. No, skiing is the squeak of sneakers scrambling across the court, the outlandish characters with multiple piercings and criminal trials.Actually, that’s basketball.The funny shoes? The beer and nachos?That’s bowling.OK. So skiing may not be America’s No. 1 spectator sport. It doesn’t draw primetime viewership, nor do its athletes get Nutella sponsorships. But as long as the world’s best male skiers are in town – and some of them are Americans – it may be worthwhile to figure out why not. If only Michael Phelps skied….The first step may be accepting that there is a problem. Four members of the Battle Mountain High School girl’s ski racing team haven’t gotten there quite yet.

Team member Georgia Wettlaufer thinks skiing takes the cake, at least with Eagle County residents. “The locals get excited about a powder day,” she said. Since skiing is king here, most Eagle Countians are interested in watching ski racing events, such as the World Cup, Nikki Matthews suggested.”What you like to do, you like to watch,” she said. But when pressed a little harder, the young women admitted that maybe, just maybe, NFL football has the edge on popularity in America. After all, watching skiing has some built-in downsides. There are no cheerleaders and no trading cards. Live spectators have to endure cold weather and cowbells to watch the sport. And there are other sports that are quite fun to watch, too, they said, such as football, basketball, Michael Phelps swimming, Michael Phelps stretching, Michael Phelps standing, and soccer.”Actually, watching soccer isn’t that much fun,” Anna Seibert said.Not a sideline sportWettlaufer may have a point, though. Locals do get excited for powder days. But in some cases, that can backfire.Jon Scott thought about heading over to the ski racing action on the Birds of Prey course, he said. A dedicated skier himself, Scott realized quickly that spending a Saturday watching skiing would take away from his own skiing goals.”I got to make 50 days this year,” he said. “I just got to.”And since winter only lasts for like 10 months here, he spared no more time talking to the Vail Daily and headed for the lift line.

The mountain phenomenonBarry and Patti Van had already done their skiing for the week, and were heading to the World Cup Saturday morning. Both hail from northeastern Indiana and offered some unique, outsider insight into this highly perplexing problem.”You can’t see the whole race,” Patti said. “And it’s hard to find a place to sit.”Temperature also was a factor, the couple suggested. But then Barry touched on something else. You can’t ski just anywhere in the U.S., unless you live in a mountainous state, or really enjoy skiing down 300 vertical feet of ice in Iowa. The issue of availability – or lack thereof – also was brought up by Chicago resident Steve Anderson. “If you live in Alabama and never have any exposure to the sport, you probably aren’t going to just head out to go skiing in Colorado,” he said.In Europe, for example, anyone interested in skiing can simply hop a train to different country to do it, suggested Steve’s wife, Barbara.The sport also isn’t affordable for many Americans, Barbara added.Skiing has long been criticized for not being a sport for the common man. And that which you cannot afford to do, you are less likely to watch other people do, even if watching it doesn’t cost any money.On the plus side, anyone attending ski races can count on getting at least 18 granola bars at no cost.”We like to get a lot of freebies,” Barry said. Staff Writer Tamara Miller can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 607, or

=====================================================Top five suggestions on how to make skiing more popular in the U.S.A.1. Build mountains in other parts of the country, making the sport more accessible.2. Better seating at skiing competitions.3. There needs to be a ball in there somewhere.4. Cheerleaders.5. Does it have to be so cold?Source: The 10 or so people interviewed at Beaver Creek Mountain Saturday==============================================Vail, Colorado

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