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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Sports >  Outdoors

Alan Liere: Motivation for different winter sports change over the years

From what I hear, local skiers are extremely happy this winter, and that makes me happy, too – it minimizes the competition on the frozen lakes where I like to ice fish.

As I youth, I did a little ice skating and a fair amount of sledding, but my first adult attempt at outdoor winter recreation was downhill skiing. I took it up primarily as a social event, a way to meet women, but I didn’t like the lines and the chairlift rides, and I wasn’t real crazy about the downhill part, either.

One can drastically alter bones in one’s legs and back as well as all one’s muscles by downhill skiing, and the inevitability of a serious wipe-out was, for me, a serious consideration. I had already donated two Achilles tendons to the basketball gods and was fearful that with none left to give, the ski gods would exact retribution from leg bones and vertebrae.

Besides the likelihood of spending another winter in a cast, another motivation for eventually giving up downhill skiing was that the women I met seemed to be there for the skiing. None of them were particularly enraptured by a tall bearded fellow with a dorky hat and a runny nose who was more interested in eating French fries and drinking hot chocolate in the lodge than freezing in a lift line.

I quit downhill and joined a cross-country ski group. There was still a fair number of female participants, but cross country skiing required a lot of effort, and I was looking for fun – not a way to develop butt muscles or an enlarged heart. The only good thing about cross country skiing was the winter scenery and the wildlife encounters, but I missed a lot of both because I was busy trying to keep from skiing over my tongue.

So I took up ice fishing. Ice fishing is a social event as much as anything, and though there are not a lot of female participants (at least any I recognize as female given the layering and bundling and face masks and stocking hats), my motivation for male/female interaction is not what it used to be, given the passage of years.

Ice fishermen have a tendency to congregate. If you see such a group, it doesn’t necessarily mean the fishing there is good, it just means a bunch of folks are enjoying one another’s company – catching fish is a bonus.

There is a lot of complaining and laughing and carrying on, and perhaps hot chocolate with peppermint schnapps. You can sit there on a folding chair visiting with good folks while you admire the ice crystals that sparkle like jewels beneath your feet and the geese that fly overhead on their way out to feed.

And like me, you may also regret the winters you spent on skis.

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