Thursday, October 28, 2010


I’m political (I pay attention to stuff) and partisan (I prefer one side over the other), but I’m not presumptuous enough to think that my way is the only way.  I only bring this up because, this being election time, even ski sites are filled with political opinion, flamethrowing, and bickering.  I debated posting this because I really don’t want this blog to be political at all, but I figured: what the hell? 

I used to try to convince people that my way was better, but I’m increasingly finding that I don’t really care.  I vote, but living in New York, my vote doesn’t really count for much.  I’ll talk about politics, but I don’t really try to change anybody’s mind, and I never talk about it when I’m drinking.  I’ve skied with ardent Tea Party supporters and Green Party members, and I’ve had just as good of a time with both.  Skiing is nice that way.  I never ask people on the lift what they believe and they never really ask me.  It’s not because I’m not interested, it’s more that there is a lot of other stuff to talk about.  I’d much rather have a conversation about what trails are good than what aspects of the health care bill are good.

Which is why this article in the Washington Post the other day was so bullshit.  Here’s a sample:

Get into a conversation about television with members of the New Elite, and they can probably talk about a few trendy shows -- "Mad Men" now, "The Sopranos" a few years ago. But they haven't any idea who replaced Bob Barker on "The Price Is Right." They know who Oprah is, but they've never watched one of her shows from beginning to end.

Talk to them about sports, and you may get an animated discussion of yoga, pilates, skiing or mountain biking, but they are unlikely to know who Jimmie Johnson is (the really famous Jimmie Johnson, not the former Dallas Cowboys coach), and the acronym MMA means nothing to them.

This column has been thoroughly debunked elsewhere, so I’m not going to really get into the entire thing, but I do want to talk about the skiing and mountain biking portion. 

While skiing has had a pretty well established history of being “elite”, to use the author’s word, I don’t know that it’s entirely justified.  Sure, a lot of people who ski are from higher income brackets, but a lot of them aren’t.  According to the Tacoma News Tribune, 46% of skiers have a household income of $100,000 or more.  But a majority of people that you see at the mountain make considerably less (including me).  And a lot of people who would like to ski are prohibited from doing so by excessively high costs.  Mountain biking is in a similar position.  The initial cost to mountain biking is pretty high, and if you live in a city, you need to have a way to get to the trailhead.

I think the real problem here is perception.  The author assumes that Skiing and Mountain Biking are things that only the elite do because it fits into his premeditated story line.  He assumes that NASCAR and Mixed Martial Arts are things that the elite do not participate in (because those two things are the bastions of “real America”).  But going to a NASCAR event or an MMA bout (scroll to the bottom for the really big numbers) would be just as expensive as a day of skiing or a new mountain bike.

What’s really going on here is that people like to do different things with their lives.  While one person might prefer watching cars go around in circles, another person might like spinning his legs in circles.  While one person might enjoy watching one guy beat the shit out of another guy, another person would enjoy hucking himself off a cliff.  Labeling someone an “elitist”, just because of his chosen form of recreation, is a ridiculous injection of nonsense into the cultural conversation.  And I’m starting to wonder if that is the point.  Perhaps this author is just intent on separating people into “us” and “them”.  To me, though, it seems worse than that.  Maybe it’s just because I’m a skier that sometimes struggles to pay his bills, but it seems like he’s trying to attach a stigma to skiing that has apparently already been attached to salad, science, and school.

But, like I said, this isn’t a political blog, and I don’t really care anymore.  If you want to tell the world that skiing is too frou-frou and hoity-toity for the masses, be my guest.  It just means that there will be more powder for me and my “elitist” friends.   

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