“If people have to get old, they should get as old as they can.”
This old adage came slamming out of the freezing cold air this morning as I started down the ramp to get off of the chairlift for the first time this winter. It was only 5 degrees above zero and I did it the way all of the textbooks say to do it: Slow and easy.
No sense in leaving any clothes in the closet that will make you warmer when you ski. I would be less than honest if I didn’t admit that I was a little apprehensive because of all of the medical problems I have been bothered with this last year. But after falling down a few times I began to get my act together and the muscle memory of how to turn a pair of skis that is stored somewhere in the “truly useless file” of my brain began to slowly emerge and save me from death or destruction.
With each passing long hot summer, the time necessary for the idea to travel from the brain to the muscle that has to do the necessary work takes a little bit longer. As a result when you decide to make a turn on skis when you are my age you better decide sooner than you used to, or that tree, lift tower, or other skier will move over and be there to greet you in the middle of your turn. I was able to somehow stay in the middle of the trails and I got to the bottom without any serious malfunction of any of my various body parts.
As I rode up on the lift I once again came to the conclusion that has been obvious to me for many years: “It is impossible to support the government and be hooked on skiing with only one salary.”
One of the real benefits of the ski experience is that there is no score like there is in golf. As I was skiing down one of the runs today I was kind of mixing it up with a lady and her husband who was trying to get her to “Ski like Stein.” His wife could not go more than seven miles an hour and I was having a hard time keeping up with the two of them.
But that’s OK with me because as I write this story Stein is in bed at Deer Valley – the victim of a young boy skiing out of the trees and crashing into him. He sustained a broken right wrist, shoulder, collarbone, numerous ribs and other body parts. When I talked with him on the phone I asked him, “Were you wearing a helmet?” He replied, “No, but I will never make another ski run without one.”
Stein, like myself, wants to live to ski another day. Unfortunately the accident will keep him off of skis for at least 60 days. Stein passed the 80-year-old mark this December; a mark I passed three years ago and counting. As I lurched down yet another run today I really appreciated the good luck that has pursued me my entire life; skiing all over the world while bringing back my “home” movies of what I was witness to. Each winter there have been more and more skiers making turns on the same number of acres of snow serviced by ski lifts for them to enjoy what I enjoyed today.
Even though I was really lurching from one not very good turn to the next one, I was enjoying every second of it. My brain was being cleared of all of the news broadcasts, elections, red states and blue states and who will win what. In the middle of a ski run nothing matters except the total freedom that you enjoy when the turns are linked together on the way down to get back on the ski lift for more of the same freedom. My lurching turns at a slow rate of speed gave me the same mental freedom feeling as the two skiers that suddenly hurtled by me. They were close behind one another, each in a tight tuck trying to go as fast as gravity and the hill would make them go. I just hope they live and ski as long as I have because it has sure been fun so far.
For more stories and stuff from Warren e-mail him at www.warrenmiller.net