Why do you ski?

Yes, skiing is a lot of fun, but there are a lot of things that are a lot of fun. Why do you ski?

I gave this some thought recently. Skiing the slalom course in particular is a huge commitment of time and energy. Why do I choose to commit so much time and energy to it?

Here’s why: For me it’s because it’s such an insane challenge and I need that in life. Skiing the slalom course at at a high level takes more grit and determination than just about any hobby out there. I can do really well at most things with minimal effort, but not skiing. It keeps me in check, keeps the ego at the door, and reinforces the benefits of hard work and a plan. Grit.

The course is like a little floating analog for life. The more honest with yourself you are, the more humble and methodical you are, the more determined and open-minded you are, the better you’re going to do in the course. The boat and the buoys are (largely) unwavering and after each pass when you settle down at the end of the course you have another crack at that playing field. What are you going to do?

There are a couple things that play into why I ski.
One - the idea of the freedom behind the boat. You have no one else to rely on but you. The rest of the factors are for the most part constant.
Second - The fact that we have seasons in the midwest, and there is this short summer makes the draw of skiing even more since you know its a fleeting time. Skiing means summer and that’s happiness. If I had the ability to slalom ski every day, not sure I would love it as much as I do.
Third - Its a sport that is different every time you do it. Never had a pass through the course feel the same as another, and that keeps it exciting and fun.

But the number one reason I ski is the people. Its a community. You cannot just go out and run slalom passes by yourself like someone shooting free throws. You need a driver. It helps to have someone watch you and be invested in your improvement. That camaraderie of sharing successes and working on what isn’t working, is different than other sports. You can help people who are even in your age division and are your direct competitors, because you are skiing against yourself. You don’t often see other sports where guys are helping their opponents, and for good reason. In skiing, you want them to do their best, and then you want to do your best, and then keep pushing that up.

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I think “people” is a big part of it but you gotta dig a little deeper than that. You need people to play bocce, for example!

Why do YOU ski?

I started skiing when I was a kid. We always had a boat growing up. For some reason I skied on 2 skis and never switched to 1 even though my parents both slalomed. We skied almost every week in the summer. Life happened and i only got to see 1-2x per year behind my folks boat in my 20’s and 30’s (college, career, raising kids)

I finally had a moment in 2010 when I realized i was 40 and my parents were getting too old to ski. I started borrowing there boat in the summer and eventually got my own. I hurt my back really good in 2012 and it ticked me off and I said from now on I’m going to learn to slalom. I find that it challenges me and makes me want to stay in shape. Being on the water is my happy place.

I taught all 3 of my boys to ski - so they are now 3rd generations skiers - my 19 and 17 year old slalom and my youngest is still on 2 (but not for long)

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I appreciate the push here @joel, but I stick with my answer. Yes you need people to play bocce, but you can practice by yourself. You can’t practice skiing by yourself. And its not just the presence of breathing human beings, its the quality of the people that I described above. People that will go out of their way to help you or get to know you, just because you are also a skier, no other context needed. Its unlike any other sport of community I have ever been around.

I ski because I like everything about it. I have MS and want to take advantage of Every opportunity I have in case some day I am driver only. It helps motivate me to stay strong. I am also a triathlete, but no races last year and like none this year either. Due COVID.