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He Waves It Around a Bit - Sisyphus Shrugged
Lasciate ogni speranza and put your feet up.
He Waves It Around a Bit
(Crossposted at By Neddie Jingo!)

Lindsey Kildow wipes out.

I am a very, very good skier. I'll kick your ass.

I skiied competitively in high school, once whupped the sorry posterior of a future Olympian in the Giant Slalom. Torneo Nacional para la Juventud, representing El Colegio Nido de Aguilas, La Parva, 1975. You could look it up (assuming the records of the Club Nacional del Esquí de Chile are online, and that the little rich-boy turd didn't get his fascist daddy to erase the Permanent Record).

But precisely because I'm a damned fine skier, it's an agony of twitching legs, shallow breath and unconscious body english watching those utterly psychotic downhillers point their sticks straight down and just ride 'em. There was an establishing shot done from a helicopter during yesterday's Downhill coverage that just scared the bejeebers out of me. The copter followed the route of the race from the finish line up, up, up the sheer side of this mountain, past the treeline, and all the way to just below the peak, where the warming huts were. And with every vertical foot that the copter traced, my heart beat harder and harder.

Skiing is controlled falling. Slightly modified skydiving. Not much more to it than that. Those wiggly things that you do with your hips, all that edging and carving turns and whatnot, is all geared to governing your speed. Absolutely the first, last and onliest rule of skiing is stay in control. Ignore that, and you become a danger to yourself and others.

I think we can all, skiers and snowbunnies, relate to that Golden Rule, nicht wahr?

So when I watch those maniacs come charging out of the starting hut and fling themselves straight down the mountain, reaching murderous speeds of 80 MPH in the first couple hundred yards, essentially in nothing less than free-fall -- that's a sobering sight, man. I know what happens to your thighs when you hit a sudden upslope at even a recreational 25 MPH: Try to conceive how much power you need in your legs to keep up that rate of speed, that rigid control, for two, two-and-a-half, three desperate minutes! I've been there, broken that Golden Rule enough times to know what goes through your head when you find yourself, calves burning and lungs pumping rarefied air, needing something more out of your legs to regain CONTROL or it's Sonny Bono Time, off to visit Ulrike Maier in the Choir Invisible....

The top of Kandahar Banchetta was like a wall, it was so steep.


I hope Lindsey Kildow is OK.
ahhhs. -- hmmm?
From: tongodeon Date: February 14th, 2006 12:10 am (UTC) (linkie thing)
I was reflecting on this last month when I reacquainted myself with skiing. Most sports involve trying to increase your speed. Skiing is really about trying to slow down.
miltonthales From: miltonthales Date: February 14th, 2006 12:20 am (UTC) (linkie thing)

I'm not

But I've been on a couple of hills (Purgatory in Durango and someplace in Japan), and what those folks do terrifies me, although it's beautiful to watch. Ski-jumping must be even more exhilarating, since you're aiming straight down at a lip you've got to jump off, some 15 stories up.
jackiejj From: jackiejj Date: February 14th, 2006 12:33 am (UTC) (linkie thing)
Thanks for this very interesting post. I didn't know any of this, not being a skier.

From: (Anonymous) Date: February 14th, 2006 08:14 pm (UTC) (linkie thing)


I am a pretty good skier myself. I once had the good fortune to be skiing at Lake Louise when the Canadian olympic team was having their tryouts. On Saturday they had set up a Super-G course, and I had a fun time watching the skiers, all far better than me, go by in a blur.

On Sunday, they took down the poles and opened the course up to the public. I thought "Cool! Lets see what I can do." I had my big skis on (210 cm GS skis). The starting gate was gone, but I skated out from about where it was, got in my tuck, and started building up some speed.

After the first 3 turns, I was doing pretty well, and I came to a drop. I love these and normally do a little hop just before the drop, so I don't catch a lot of air and lose speed.

I did my hop, cleared the rise, and found myself in stark terror looking down an elevator shaft. Far, far in the distance below me were little ant-like creatures scurrying back and forth about their unknown business. In that "life flashes before your eyes" instant as my skis were momentarily off the snow, I realized the ants were skiers at the bottom of the descent. My skis then hit the snow and I felt the surge of acceleration.

Fortunately, I am a decent skiier, my edges were very sharp, and the slope was only moderately icy (from an Eastern skier's perspective...a Western skier would probably have thought it was glare ice). I never lost control, though I did scrape off a lot of what little real snow was left on the slope before getting back to a sane speed.

Since then I have never been able to watch a downhile race without reliving a little bit of that feeling of panic (and that was only a Super-G course, not a downhill).
ahhhs. -- hmmm?