January 26, 2008

Skiing: Glitz or Experience?

Today on my way to Westcliffe I passed the long-vanished Silver Hills ski area, one of Colorado's lost ski areas.

Many of them were more about real estate sale than the experience of skiing, but Silver Park was just a little family-oriented ski hill, like many of the lost Northeastern areas described in yesterday's New York Times.

In a paired article, Helen Olsson, an editor at Skiing writes about skiing for the experience, not for the glitz.

Skiing is widely known as a rich man’s sport, but flush my family was not. We ate meals from a picnic basket, skied in hand-me-downs, shopped ski swaps, and wore downhill suits sewed in the basement. Instead of paying a ski technician to set our bindings, we clicked into our skis in the living room and hurled ourselves forward while Dad stood on the tails. If we released with, say, medium effort, we figured the setting was correct.

The Times illustrated the article with a photo of Trak cross-country skis. A subtle comment or an editor's ignorance? I suspect the latter. Memo: A pair of 1960s Head skis would have been more appropriate.

One of my enduring questions: Why do Americans have to take a simple, pleasurable activity and complicate it and make it more expensive and glitzy. Skiing (for instance) is skiing, whether you eat a bowl of chile con carne or a five-course meal after your run, whether you sleep in a bunk bed or a multi-million dollar house.

M. and I, lovers of simple pleasures, put in five miles on one of our favorite cross-country trails yesterday. Skiing is a European import, and by day's end sometimes we start speaking European:

C. Did you enjoy the day sportive?

M. In effect! Where shall we go for the after-ski?

C. For the after-ski, let us visit Amicas restaurant where we may eat Pizza Roma and drink the beer locally produced.

M. Yes, that is an idea marvelous.

In slightly related news, discounts for senior skiers are drying up at Colorado resorts.

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