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Skiing is fascinating sport but it’s not for everyone

UPDATED: Wed., Jan. 11, 2017, 4:09 p.m.

If there is a specific gene that makes someone want to travel to the very top of a snow-covered mountain in the middle of winter, strap waxed boards to their feet and slide to the valley below, I do not have it.

There are parts of the Pacific Northwest where saying such a thing would be considered sacrilege, but there you go. I have the extra gene that makes you admit to an occasional act of sacrilege.

“I do not participate in any sport with ambulances at the bottom of the hill,” Erma Bombeck once said.

Makes perfect sense to me.

Dave Barry said, “Skiing combines outdoor fun with knocking down trees with your face.”

While there are those who will suggest I have a face ideally suited for this purpose, I say, “No, thanks.”

And there’s always that age-old adage: “Skiing is the only sport where you spend an arm and a leg to break an arm and a leg.”

Take your pick.

When you grow up in the great Pacific Northwest, skiing has always been there as a winter force becoming to many of my friends. I fault them not and occasionally take them chicken soup when they come home from the slopes with broken bones, herniated somethings and dislocated thingys.

I’m not a total neophyte. I have been to the mountain top.

Big Mountain, near Whitefish, Montana, takes hikers to the top of the ski run during the summer and you can hike down the hill. And Sun Valley in summer is a glorious spot. I recommend each.

I have been to all of the area ski resorts at one time or another, in season, as a reporter. Each has a beauty about it that has to be seen in person to be appreciated. Even when it’s snowing so hard you can’t see farther than you could throw a snow globe.

I happily spent the best part of a week at Whistler Blackcomb so my partner and her sister could enjoy a ski vacation.

How does one do that and not ski, you ask? Easily. I did touristy things and visited former Olympic venues, hiked some of the cross country ski trails and spent happy hours preparing feasts and libations for the skiers to enjoy at the end of the day.

I hiked uphill to watch a luge practice first-hand – a cold but fascinating activity. And I spent a happy afternoon on a specially designed hill riding an inner tube down the mountain and another riding the chairlift over some of the most incredible countryside I have ever seen to visit some of the world’s most breathtaking vistas. I loved it.

But at no time did I have an urge to give skiing another try.

The first time was enough, thank you very much.

Not that it was all that awful, that first and last time.

It was way, way back in the day.

A friend talked me into going to Schweitzer for a Media Day event.

I dutifully strapped on a pair of rented ski boots, took the skis that were recommended for me and headed off to the slopes. Well, the bunny slope.

Being an adult on the kiddies’ hill isn’t that bad. You do have to tuck your ego away for the day because there will undoubtedly be 5-year-olds trying alternately to treat you like a mogul hill or dousing you with a spray of snow.

Granted, falling off the rope tow a few times can put a ding in your dignity. Especially when those aforementioned kiddies laugh and point at you long after you manage to get back to so-called skiing.

The next day was duly painful, but there were no lasting injuries to anything other than personal pride.

But there was no spark there to be ignited into a passion for the sport.

Not that I don’t find it fascinating.

I still remember being thrilled by Jean-Claude Killy at the 1968 Winter Olympics in Grenoble. And I think we all fell a little bit in love with Picabo Street while rooting for her at the Olympic Games in Lillehammer (1994) and Nagano (1998).

And you can’t live here and not be a fan of Phil and Steve Mahre and their exploits in the Olympics and on the World Cup circuit.

To me, all that white stuff that’s fallen this week only makes me think of two things:

Shoveling.

And more shoveling.

Steve Christilaw can be reached at steve.christilaw@gmail.com.


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