Yes, Freud missed the ski season … again
And that’s 20 years
It does appear that I have missed yet another ski season. Bummer.
Yes, your sports editor since 2002 and sports writer since 1997 — my first story for the Vail Daily ran a cover headline that Princess Diana’s funeral was happening on that Saturday — does not ski, does not know how to snowboard and also covers every Wednesday summer bike race, having never gotten off training wheels.
I know how to ski. Growing up in San Francisco, even dorks like me went skiing in Lake Tahoe. If we were staying for a week, we’d ski Northstar and Boreal was for day trips. I went to Ski Swap, just like everyone else, got the gear and actually had double-digits in ski days my first winter here. (My first look at Dobson was as a ski emporium, instead of a hockey rink. Funny how that works.)
The following may be heretical, but I just don’t like skiing. When I did ski, don’t get me wrong, it was beautiful. I enjoyed riding the lifts and cruising greens (I didn’t say I was good), being outside and enjoying nature. Please keep in mind that Vail or Beaver Creek are awfully different (in a good way) than San Francisco.
The bleeping boots
I hate the boots the most. Yes, I should probably learn how to snowboard, but as you’ll see there are many reasons that is not happening. During one tussle with my boots in the Beaver Creek parking lot, I yelled, “If Hitler had to wear ski boots, he never would have marched through Europe.” There were probably some extra words, so that wasn’t a direct quote. Seriously though, the French wouldn’t have had to build the Maginot Line.
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It’s also the clomping through the respective village in those ski boots. The biggest yard sale I’ve ever had was not when I accidentally took the wrong turn in Game Creek Bowl and skied a blue run (Baccarat). Freud concluded that run by taking a spill resulting in your sports writer prone on his stomach, head pointing downhill with skis, still attached, sticking in the air over the back. My favorite moment was hoping that the two people skiing with me who were waiting at the bottom of Lost Boy for me didn’t see me splayed. They didn’t. Small triumphs.
Despite the impressive nature of my Game Creek Bowl misadventure, Lionshead itself was the most dangerous “run.” Just walking to the Eagle Bahn Gondola, my ski boot would just catch some ice and I got closer to breaking limbs on the asphalt as opposed to the slopes.
“I’m falling and I am not even on the snow yet? Egad,” thinks Freud. I probably didn’t say egad.
It’s not just the boots. I don’t like the cold, which is not only a problem when it comes to snowsports, but also life in general here. The good news, I suppose, is that I barely go outside during the winter because, despite not skiing, I’m covering Mikaela Shiffrin and all our aspiring racers, not to mention high school sports.
Honestly, the Vail Daily should consider selling the audio tapes of my interviews with mogul skiers Tess Johnson and Kai Owens. I have the basics, but Johnson and Owens have been doing more than their fair share of explaining what they are saying to me. When Johnson is telling me about a backflip venom grab, I think a snake is involved. (Apparently, it does not, according to Tess.)
And this is why I rule out trying snowboarding: Language. With the full understanding that Johnson and Owens compete in sport on skis, the butchering of the Queen’s English in lots of snowsports, but particularly snowboarding, really disturbs me.
Just Googling “snowboarding terminology’ gives me the willies. Shredding the gnar, steez, crunchy and knarley: This is not English. Stiffy air? Don’t know what that is, but it needs a better name.
Am I overly sensitive to language? Of course. Words are the units of my livelihood. I take their usage seriously. Is snowboarding “bad” because of the use of different language? Of course not. If you enjoy snowboarding, have a great time. My passion is hitting a small white ball with oddly shaped mallets. I’m in no position to judge.
Yes, I get a kick out of the fact that I probably write more about skiing and other snowsports than most reporters not traveling with the World Cup even though I don’t like these sports as activities for myself. (Watching racing is awesome.)
Is it hilarious, nonetheless, that every beat writer on the World Cup asks me, “When was the last time this happened at Beaver Creek,” when Birds of Prey happens every December? Yep. Before the 2015 Alpine Ski Championships here, I did a set of predictions. An Austrian newspaper picked up the prognostications and called me “The Ski Expert” in a headline in German. Since I am the first Freud in 700 years or so not to speak German and I cannot ski a blue without nearly killing myself, I am proud of that.
So why do I live here if I don’t like doing snowsports? In theory, the ski pass is an essential part of living in Vail/Avon/ Edwards, Eagle and Gypsum.
The answer is simple: This is a beautiful place that is never boring. Everything is always changing here, be it events, the weather, the people and life in general.
So even though I don’t ski, happy Closing Day. Enjoy it. Make merry in a responsible way. (Freud may not have skied in 20 years, but, when he was still partying, skipped the skiing and went straight to Closing Day parties.)
I’ll catch you next season, maybe.