Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Starting to get Interesting . . .

When you go skiing, what kind of terrain are you looking for? By that, I mean, what kind of stuff do you like to ski?

It seems like a great majority of the skiing public prefers groomed terrain, which I find to be kind of weird. I mean, think of the groomers on your local mountain.  Is there any real difference from one to the next? I mean, sure, maybe the pitch changes, maybe the aspect is different, and maybe the snow quality has some slight variation from one to the next. But, really, is your skiing experience going to be THAT much different if “Groomer A” is closed for the day, so you have to default to “Groomer B”? 

When I ski, I spend a lot of time looking for “Interesting” terrain. Interesting terrain could be anything from icy bumps, to a glade with ridiculously thin cover, to a terrain park, and everything in between. I’d rather the conditions be horrible and difficult, than easy and boring.

I was thinking about this today when I was thinking about my life. When it came time to make decisions in life, I always tried to make the easy and boring decision: go to school, get a job, buy a house, get married, etc. It’s like I was following everybody else, straight down crowded Groomer A. As things fall apart, I’m starting to think that maybe there’s more interesting stuff out there. 

Who says I have to follow the same path that everyone else is following? What if I want to duck into the trees for a while? What if I want to throw myself into the air, knowing that there’s a distinct possibility of a spectacular crash? What if I just want to get away from the freaking people on Groomer A?

The people are the worst! With their boring talk about how this trail is so great, and Groomer B is probably great too, let’s do that next, and then we’ll all reconvene at the end of the day and talk about how great our day was and we go home happy knowing that we all took the safe route, never experienced any risk, and didn’t fall all day.  Sure, there were tough spots, like that patch of ice on Groomer J, but we were proud of the way we handled that, and we all got through it safe and sound, and we all came away better for the experience.

Ugh. No thanks. But what about those people over there? What about those guys poaching that line under the lift? What about those shadows moving through the woods?  What about that dude hurling himself down that mogul field?  Ahhh, now these are the people I can relate to.  People who take chances, people who take risks, people who put themselves out there, knowing that it’s possible that they could fail, but even if they do, at least they’ll have an epic story to tell about it.

This is the kind of person I’m attracted to in life, as well.  Tell me about your crazy schemes, let me know about your harebrained ideas, tell me the story of how you took that chance in your life, and what happened as a result.  Give me your wild, your sure, your untroubled badasses yearning to freeski! People who choose their own path, and have better stories as a result. 

Because I really don’t want to hear another diatribe about how that snowboarder cut you off. I want to hear about that time your buddy almost got caught in that tree well.  I want to reminisce about that crazy cliff huck with the sketchy landing.  I want to relive that face shot, or soft spring corn bump field, or boost out of the pipe.

I know what you’re thinking: “But Matt, not everyone has the ability to do all that stuff you’re saying”. I know. Similarly, I have a job, a mortgage, a car loan, and a house.  I just can’t sell all my crap, and just start biking across the country with the clothes on my back, either. But you can take a chance.

Next time you’re skiing, do one thing that scares you. One thing different. One thing that’s not in your daily routine. Slide a box. Sample some snow in the woods. Hit a kicker. You might find that it leads to a whole new appreciation for life outside of the same old groomer. 

I’m going to Alaska this spring. It might be horrible, it might end catastrophically, and it might send me running back to New York with my tail between my legs. But it’s possible that it’ll be the best trip I’ve ever done. I might have the time of my life. This trip could open me up to an entire life that I never even considered before.  And just knowing that makes it worth the risk.

It’s time to choose a new trail.


  1. I like irregular bumps and trees. And I do my share of crashing. Do I get points for that? Maybe a bonus taking up skiing at age 40. Let's be real, I'm not really much of a risk taker. I follow you for that MC - for the vicarious peaks behind the curtain. I think of you as the guy who LAUNCHES, and has the confidence or desire to improvise the landing.

  2. When I was 18 my girlfriend and I drove to California with some guy we barely knew…but he had the car! We had $10 worth of rice and oatmeal and had visions of camping out and seeing the “land”…it was an adventure!
    But at 18 you have no fear, at 30 something there is a thought of consequences, and that’s a good thing to keep in mind, yet I still say do it, and enjoy it!! Everyone should see Alaska, and not just for the skiing! (Just try to avoid the catastrophes!)