On a regular basis, I make myself hurt. I make myself sick. I make myself want to puke, and want to curl into a little sloshy puddle of human somewhere warm and not stand back up. Adults don’t mind. In fact, they encourage me to do so. In fact, it was adults, namely, my parents, which first started me in this cycle when they strapped skis to my three-year-old self’s tiny purple snow boots.
I love skiing. I love it. From the cool, clean forest wind on my face to the smooth feeling of glide, every aspect of skiing gives me shivers of joy. There’s something about the light, quick shuffle of feet it takes to climb a hill that gives one of the greatest adrenaline rushes out there, along with tucking swiftly down a hill and stepping around a curve. When I started rising competitively in high school, though, was when I began to realize that “being good” doesn’t mean it never hurts. In fact, sometimes it hurts worse. “Being good” just means one has practiced more or is in some way more fit, technically skilled, or otherwise apt to succeed than the rest of the competition pool.
The funny thing about racing is I always forget how much it hurts until I’m in the meaty thick of the race itself, and my muscles are conductor wires for liter on liter of thick lactic acid and, man, it just hurts. Some people finish races and say that they “just don’t like racing,” they “just like practicing” and “long easy skis.” Um, excuse me? You “I-Don’t-Like-Racing” people are almost as bad as the “Fellowship of Oh Man I Was Having My Period,” because heaven knows no one fast has EVER had their period while racing. (Same with you weirdos who only can race well when “it’s cold” or “the snow is good.” Let’s just all wait around for your perfect day… oh wait, it never comes.)
Yes, racing hurts. And I don’t think I’ve ever had a race where everything goes perfectly. From pole straps coming undone to bad kick, something always goes a little bit funky. But hey, isn’t that life? Does a day ever go by exactly how you expect it to? When I woke up yesterday morning, I had no idea I was going to traipse around Boston for a day, then end up in a dress and cheese-head later in the evening, but that’s how it went, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. A part of me feels like when something goes wrong, the distraction gives me an adrenaline kick that makes me go even faster. For example, I did a state meet in high school where I lost one of two chips on-course. On realizing the chip was gone, I panicked a bit, but upon finishing, I realized the loss of a chip had given me an adrenaline rush that propelled me forward, along with distracting me from the stress of the competition.
If I’ve ever complained about skiing, slap me. Go for it. I need skiing. Looking forward to practice after classes has got me through more days than anything. Skiing gives me a chance to feel strong, feel graceful, be healthy, release tension, channel aggression, learn self-discipline, develop self-confidence, make friends, travel, and eat hella more carbs and good ol’ PB than anyone involved in Model UN or drama. Skiing gives me a chance to get lost in the woods, for HOURS, for a REASON. With COOL PEOPLE. It’s incredible. So why, then, do we skiers occasionally resent it?
I was talking to one of my roommates about how I was having a hard time finding a writing publication to be a part of because of the time constraints of classes plus skiing. I rolled my shoulders back. I ached like there was an extra bone stuck haphazardly between my shoulder blades.
“You could always quit skiing next year,” she suggested.
It took the suggestion of quitting for me to realize that I could never, EVER quit. Skiing isn’t an escape for me, it is my life. I don’t ski to put it on a résumé and look accomplished. Skiing isn’t making me richer, or more famous, or helping me find a job. I ski because I freaking love it. Every second. When I am eighty years old I want to be out in the woods, tufty white hair blending in with the snowy birches, hunched over on my classic skis, striding and listening for birds.
So, why resent it? Why do it if you don’t love it? I love it. I love every second. Thank you, skiing.