Vail Daily columnist Warren Miller: What else would I do at my age, besides ski?
Vail, CO, Colorado
Everyone I talk to lately asks if I am going skiing again. Why wouldn’t I?
I have been doing the same things on skis for as long as I can remember. I get a ski lift ticket and ride up in the chair lift and then I make right and left turns and do it all over again.
When I write about it, I sometimes think it is kind of a dumb way to spend my life, but what would I be doing in the winter if no one had ever invented skis?
How about living in Arizona and playing shuffleboard and golf every day until it gets warm enough to move back to the Northwest?
For me that would really be dumb when I hear that there is already eight feet of snow at Mammoth Mountain and the skiing is the best that it has been in years. Montana has more snow now than it had at the end of January last year.
But then they say, “Why risk your body at your age?” Age is just a number, after all. I have been trapped in a senior citizen’s body for more years than I care to think about.
One thing I know is not happening and that is I am not walking into old age backward like a lot of my friends. Three times this week I called some old friends to say hello, as I have started to do lately, and I woke up all three of them in the middle of the afternoon. They had all fallen asleep in front of the TV set in the middle of the afternoon, as there were no football games on the TV on a Wednesday afternoon to keep them awake.
With so much snow in the mountains all over the West, how can I not be excited about what awaits me when I slip into my bindings for the firsts time since I broke my back last winter and ski slowly down the hill to the lodge for lunch?
Then I will ride the chair lift back up and ski half way down the hill again and stop at my house, take off my skis, and take my mandatory afternoon nap. (I guess I can’t criticize anyone else for the things they do at this age!)
That afternoon nap has been in my job description for the last several years. Where is it written that you can’t take one or you shouldn’t take one? I really enjoy them. When I get up, I can sit at my computer and write another half a dozen pages on my autobiography, which seems to be progressing at the pace of whatever you seem to call it.
The more involved I get in recounting my wanderings around the world, the more stories I recall.
Such as the night I showed my ski film in Shiga Heights, Japan. There were no seats in the large hall that held about 500 people, just reed tatami mats. I had an excellent translator, and she was able to deliver my lines in Japanese as long as I told them to her in time for her to translate and deliver the jokes with good timing.
After the show was over, I was surprised that none of the customers got up and walked out. They, one by one, just leaned over and started to fall asleep on their tatami mats. By the time we got the projector screen and tape recorder folded up half of the people were already asleep.
I commented to my interpreter, “This is the first time I have put an entire audience to sleep.”
What about the time in Sun Valley when they had a restaurant at the top of Dollar Mountain? This was during my parking lot days and I had agreed to meet my date for lunch.
It took me an extra 45 minutes to climb up to the restaurant and sit with her while she had lunch. I was just on the edge of being too late to be considered so after watching my date and her girlfriend eat lunch. I borrowed her lift ticket, skied down Dollar Mountain for the first time, and rode back up with her lift ticket and enjoyed an after-lunch pot of tea with her. Her tea pot and my cup.
What about the time when I was working for Scandinavian Airlines and they wanted me to have some Norwegian skiing in the movie, so they sent me out to not yet very famous ski resorts called Geilo. After a four- or five-hour train ride and being housed in a deluxe hotel, I got up early to get a head start on my filming and discovered that the only ski lift in the resort had the main cable laying in the snow and it would not be running until the following winter.
The terrain there made Boyne Mountain, Mich., look as steep and dangerous as Alaska does by comparison.
It has been a fun trip so far. Stay tuned. I will continue rambling on about it all!
Filmmaker Warren Miller lived in Vail for 12 years, and his column began in the Vail Daily before being syndicated to over 50 publications. For more of Miller’s stories and stuff log onto Warren Miller.net.
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