Recently on a flight to Denver I sat next to a young lady who told me she was on her first ever ski vacation. After being served the standard, miniature airline meal, she pulled out a copy of Ski Magazine and acted as if she didn’t understand a word she was reading. So after telling her, “I got my tan selling used cars in Los Angeles,” I offered to help her learn what some of today’s really cool ski words mean.
1) High-speed quad chairlift: This is a $4 million device that lets you float through the air at a high rate of speed and deposits more skiers per hour at the top of the hill than the snow conditions can handle. You will usually ride up with three other people who are busy talking on their cell phones.
2) Man-made snow: This is a commodity that takes vast amounts of coal to generate electricity to expensively convert water to white stuff on the side of the hill instead of brown stuff that is called rocks during the summer and some of the brown stuff usually sticks up through the white stuff.
3) Ski insurance: A mysterious piece of paper that allows contingency fee attorneys to write off ski vacations while listening to the ski patrol radio channel so they can monitor accidents. This increases the cost of your lift ticket by about 25 percent.
4) Travel agency: The company where you get a first-day-on-the-job employee on the phone who books you into the wrong room, at the wrong hotel, at the wrong end of town, at the wrong time of year, at the wrong price, when the snow level is at 14,000 feet.
5) Merger: When two unsuccessful ski resorts climb on the same toboggan to ride down on what’s left of their financial statement.
6) Snow report: An ambiguous hypothesis of potential snow conditions by the creative writing of an assistant marketing person who is looking for a better paying job.
7) Cellular phone: A group of microscopic things, in a cheap, exotic, high-tech plastic case, that someone invented so that a ski vacation away from the office is a thing of the past.
8) Artificial fiber: Something that cost about $40 million in research and development so that a chemical company can duplicate the heat keeping properties of the feathers of a Chinese duck.
9) Powder hounds: A semi-rare breed of hotdogs who spend all winter trying to sniff out untracked powder snow.
10) Lift lines: Something that you pay as much as $65 a day to stand and freeze in, unless you pay an extra $420 a day for a private instructor so you don’t get involved in one.
11) Adapts easily to any environment: A 53-year-old ex-husband wearing a gold chain and sporting a hair transplant who is in search of a lift-riding companion, a free dinner and lodging for the night, while he continues his search for his next ex-wife.
12) Heli-skiing: A very exotic, noisy, and sometimes scary way to become the most listened to person at summer barbecues.
13) Cross-training: A religious rite performed while bathed in sweat so you will be in shape for the upcoming season of sport. Devotees never have to participate in seasonal sports because they are always cross-training for the next season.
14) Special discount: The hypothetical and mystical discount that is subtracted from the retail price of any ski product after the normal markup has been doubled.
15) Snowmobile: A $7,835.00 mechanical device that will travel over ice and snow at a rapid rate and transport you from bar to bar after your drivers license has been suspended.
16) Four wheel drive: An expensive mechanical device attached to the front axle of your car that allows you to drive over mountain passes without giving the skid chain installer a pair of twenty-dollar bills so you won’t get your thousand-dollar-powder-snow suit muddy.
17) America’s largest: It applies to anything except vertical rise of the ski lift so be careful when you make your reservations. Other things that are the world’s largest are the Los Angeles freeway system, New York City subway, the Pyramids, the Grand Canyon and Domino’s Pizza.
18) Skiwear for people who really ski: Where else would you wear it except to ski? To a board of directors meeting? Out on your first date in Atlanta? Obviously to a Halloween party!
19) Auto control: Someone who wears an orange vest and earns minimum wages. He tells you to park your brand new $43,000 four-wheel-drive-suburban so close to the next car that you have to climb out through the windows because you can’t open your doors.
By the time I got this far explaining what cool ski words meant, my seatmate on the airplane handed me her business card and explained that PSIA meant Professional Ski Instructors of America.
For more stories and stuff from Warren e-mail him at www.warrenmiller.net