Survival of the fittest on the early season bumps
December 18, 2003
There’s nothing like a little adversity to separate the men from the boys. Or, as a Darwinian might say, in the jungle of life, it’s survival of the fittest. Or, as a bump skier in Vail might say, in the jungles of Look Ma and Prima, it”s survival of the Bumper who selects his turns carefully.
Granted, the prolific families of baby Christmas trees living in the bumps are just doing their natural thing. But each cute little one is just waiting to vanquish any skier who happens to turn by.
If you consider the fact that skis (some of them even Machetes) have been bumping down Look Ma and Prima since November, you can assume that any evergreens that have withstood this Darwinian test are, in fact, the fittest.
They are not about to give up their birthrights because of a little adversity in the form of a ski’s sharp edges trying to scrape them out of existence. Rather, they will snare you out of existence.
So in addition to how to ski the bumps, the issue becomes how to survive the tree tops which happen still to be poking out of the bumps. And this adversity is a good thing because it will improve your bump skiing.
For example, one thing it will do is get you out of the habit of turning only certain places on the bumps. Instead, it will make you turn anywhere on the bumps where a tree isn’t.
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Sometimes you’ll have to turn on the top of a bump, sometimes in the gully between two bumps, and most of the time, you’ll have to turn everywhere in between, which is what bump skiing is all about.
But, there is even more that these tree tops will do for you. They will require you to turn with precision. That is to say, they will teach you very quickly how to judge the space needed for a turn at any given speed – i.e., where your tips will go, where your edges will go, where your tails will go, and where they and you will all end up.
In simple terms, this all amounts to improving your control.
Finally, and, perhaps, most importantly, what this adversity will do to your bump skiing is change your focus from looking at the bump right in front of you to looking for the tree traps you want to avoid, which will force you to look two or three or more turns ahead.
If adversity is not your favorite teacher and it doesn’t help you perfect these skills, there”s a good chance you will succumb to the trees on the bumps.
Of course, that is still one way of inadvertently contributing to evolution by removing yourself from the gene pool, if only temporarily. And all the Darwinians will say that this is just natural selection improving the species of Bumpers.
Elizabeth Eber is an award-winning freelance writer who lives in Vail.