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Skiing the Way You Live Your Life

“I have a theory about skiing,” said my friend Pat Peeples. “Do you want to hear it?”

Through the urgent sweep of the windshield wipers and the thick curtain of blowing snow, I could just make out the tail lights of the car in front of us. We creeping along Route 82—Killer 82—heading northwest out of Aspen in a full-on blizzard, late on a Friday night.

“Umm, sure,” I said as the brake lights flashed on the car ahead and I downshifted to first.

“I’ve come to the conclusion,” she said, “that people ski the way they live their lives.”

The car in front of us pulled off at a convenience store to wait out the storm. The only guide we had now was the center line of the two-lane road, and it was disintegrating rapidly into a yellow blur beneath the accumulating snow. We inched along, nearly blind.

“How so?” I asked, peering over the wheel.

“Look at the people around you. Take Amy, for example,” Pat said, mentioning a friend who’s a student and part-time ski model. “She skis beautifully: smooth, in control, with purpose. That’s exactly the way her life is. Her sister, Val, on the other hand, skis just a little out of control, just a little wild…the same way she lives her life.”

I brought the car to a stop in the middle of the road. The pavement, the double yellow line, the shoulder, the guardrail—all completely obscured by the blowing snow. A Toyota 4Runner crept past us from behind, and I fell into line thankfully, fingers crossed that he wouldn’t mistakenly drive off a cliff with us following dutifully into oblivion.

Pat’s theory seemed to make sense, at least when I applied it to well-known skiers. Look at Glen Plake, a wild man on skis and off…and Stein Eriksen, a styler and gentleman in everything. The theory seemed to work with my friends, too: Casey, will to go anywhere or try anything…Tim, always looking to the next turn, always seeking perfection. Finally, I thought about my own skiing, only I turned the theory around: Do I live my life the way I ski, seeking adventure, new perspectives, fresh tracks, the view from the other side of the rope?

And what about you? How’s your skiing…and your life? Are you content…and comfortable with your contentment? Or are you pushing yourself, taking risks? Maybe this should be the season where you start getting air or venturing into the trees…or launching a new career or getting a tattoo.

Just southeast of Glenwood Springs, the Toyota turned off, the snow let up, and I was able to relax at the wheel. Talk turned to other things, but by the time we pulled into Pat’s driveway in Vail, I brought up here theory once again.

“Hey Pat,” I said as I turned off the ignition and the world fell to silence, “your theory left out one thing. What about people who don’t ski?”

“People who don’t ski?” A mischievous smile spread under her freckles, and she said, without a trace of seriousness, “Why would you even want to know them?”

First published in Powder Magazine, issue 19.1, September 1990. Copyright Steve Casimiro 2001. All rights reserved.