My thoughts wandering afar, I glanced down. Yikes! I’m speeding again. I try to be as law abiding as possible. Sure, I don’t obey the speed limit very often, but I try to refrain from truly speeding. That is until this time every year. About the second week of October or so. Every year. It doesn’t happen on purpose. I can’t really explain it. Like salmon returning from the sea to spawn, it just happens. I start driving too fast.
Given that it happens quite subconsciously, I can’t even chalk it up to trying to achieve some kind of cheap thrill. Something deep within demands the speed. It’s been months since I’ve taken my last run. It will be weeks before I’ll be skiing, possibly even more before conditions will allow to really open it up. There seems to be one glaring thing missing from my life right now. As I ponder this thought I have to remind myself to take my foot off the gas once again. These straightaways are so enticing.
This must be what’s it all about. The driving force behind all of this madness. For as long as I can remember I’d been driven to achieve one objective – to ski as much as possible. All these years and I’m not sure I ever nailed down exactly why. This clearly must be it. The speed. Sure you can ride motorcycles, or bikes, or longboards. You can surf, or snowmobile. Is there any way though, to achieve the sensation with such freedom as that by skis? No large piece of equipment separates you from the terrain. How else can you travel such distances with such relative ease, fluidity, and exhilaration?
Speed takes all forms. Narrow chutes, open bowls. Tight zipper lines, morning groomers. Night skiing can seem and be even faster. Making noises also is known to aid velocity. When you make the sound reminiscent of a fighter jet it increases the possibility you might actually break the sound barrier. Seriously, who doesn’t make fighter jet sounds when they ski?… You do make fighter jet sounds right?… Well, you probably should.
There’s little doubt that it’s all about the quest for speed. Skiers of all abilities want one simple thing, to go fast.
Once again I take notice that I’m approaching twenty-five miles an hour over the limit. Seriously, I don’t feel like I’m going fast at all. It really is all about the speed.
Except for one thing. The air. Since the very beginning. Some of my earliest ski memories involve such mythical places as “the wall jump,” and “the rock jump.” Hitting “the rock jump” was the perceived pinnacle of achievement at our local mountain. In the years before established terrain parks became the norm, any feature, any tower, any roll over would be viewed as a potential launching point. Was I going fast for the sensation of going fast, or was it merely a vehicle for catching air? Was it really all about the air?
The “wall jump” was ingrained in my psyche. As a young child on a family ski vacation I veered off the cat track in attempt to catch a little air. Instead, I caught a lot of air and crashed into a heap. It instantly became the coolest thing that had ever happened. After seeing aerialists for the first time in the Olympics I spent the next several weeks at school jumping off a snowbank for the entirety of recess. Sledding was fun but if there was a jump of some kind it was immeasurably better.
When I look back at last season the memories seem to collect towards the air time. The mental image of the picture being very large, and then suddenly and at once very small. Would skiing be the same if you couldn’t catch some air? Would it be worth it? Would you just feel like you were out in the cold? All ages young and old seem to gravitate towards small drops and whoops. Could man’s age old quest to fly be at the basis of this instinct? You can’t spellAmairica without “air,” can you? It certainly must be about the air.
That doesn’t explain much about this speeding problem. Around the bend a Highway Patrolman zips by in the oncoming lane. I nervously glance towards the rearview mirror for brake lights, none come, bullet dodged.
This seems inconclusive, the speed vs the air. Does it involve something very different altogether? Am I missing something else completely? Perhaps we’re dealing with the sort of scenario in which the two separate parts combine to make something greater than their sum. The peanut butter and chocolate, the Abbot and Costello, the bonfire and gasoline. The speed AND the air.
The speed and the air? That’s not really any kind of conclusion. Conclusion? The conclusion is that I need it to snow soon before I get myself a ticket. I think it’s like one of those touch screen soda fountains with like 100 different flavors that they have at 5 Guys. It’s not how it works, it’s that it works. It’s just some kind of magic future device. Skiing is just that. Magic and futuristic. In the future we’ll all reach our senses and ski more.