Much has changed since I started skiing in the early 1980’s. Most people wear helmets now. Webcams and online reports offer constant updates of lift/terrain status, weather forecasts, and road conditions. Terrain parks and high-speed lifts (with safety bars!) are common.
But one thing that hasn’t changed: the ubiquitous presence of classic rock, particularly of 1970’s vintage. According to mathematical models, there’s a 63.5 percent chance that either The Boys Are Back in Town or Fool for the City will be blasting from the speakers near the overpriced cans of Pabst Blue Ribbon chilling on the ski lodge’s outdoor deck. Hey, I’m a fan (except for the overpriced PBR), so glad some things haven’t changed.
My kids aren’t as keen on what they call “old-fashioned music.” Or anything “old fashioned” at all. They love new-fangled terrain parks with boxes, rails, and manicured jumps. They yawn when I tell them that, back in the day, you had to scout jumps from the lift and perhaps hike a bit to reach them. And often a tree, boulder, or other natural hazard cluttered the landing zone and if you didn’t land cleanly and turn instantly, a collision with said hazard (and corresponding dent in your un-helmeted head) was likely. They take for granted the groomed jumps and clean landing zones of the terrain park. I’m not knocking these parks at all; they’re pretty damn fun and the performance level is incredible.
But, in addition to human ingenuity to create perfect conditions to advance an outdoor sport, it’s important to appreciate the raw fundamentals of nature that created the sport in the first place. With, skiing, snowboarding, surfing, or any other outdoor pursuit, it’s pretty special when nature creates perfection by itself. And tapping this natural perfection—be it untracked powder or untouched waves—with nothing more than your own wits (okay, maybe with an assist from the high-speed lift) gives you a deep connection to the higher power.
When I explained this to my sons, they seemed to get it. They nodded and agreed how cool nature was, how lucky they were to be out there enjoying it, and the importance of protecting it.
Then they exited the lift and headed over to the terrain park.