By Ron Kubicki, Director of Holiday Valley Snowsports School
Yesterday I went “back home,” if you will. I skied at the resort I learned how to ski at in 1959. It was a small local ski area called Glenwood Acres – while it is not named Glenwood Acres anymore it is the only name by which I will ever remember it.
As I stood on top of the same 300 foot elevation, I had visions of my old 6 3/4 foot Northland Golden Jet wood skis with sectional screw-in metal edges, Douvre non-releasable toe and a single metal heel piece with six-foot long thongs attached which you wrapped around your lace-up leather ski boots. These were the infamous zero-release technology bindings that you wore as testimony to your total lack of imagination of what may happen to your legs in a real high speed crash! Double leather ski boots with an inner and outer lace, the leather thongs were wrapped around these boots in such a way as to add support to your ankles, by stiffening the boots. You actually wore them as a de facto “badge of courage” – silly us. But, while standing on top of these hills again, I remembered the excitement of skiing back then, and I realized I was smiling…again.
In these articles, I write about tasks and tools to improve our performance on-snow. I talk about stance and balance, upright and athletic, adaptability and versatility and I wonder…have I told you to smile? Have I said just enjoy yourself?
I think sometimes we get caught up so much in – How do I look? Why did that happen? Why can’t I do that? – when what we ought to do is realize we are in nature’s beauty, we are engaged in a healthy and exciting physical activity. We are sharing this with family and friends typically, or we are enjoying the solace and satisfaction of a private activity in the outdoors. Look around you and see who is smiling. Typically it is the four to six year olds who are just “having fun.” We need to learn to be “that kid,” to enjoy the moment – ski within yourself, for the joy and freedom that gravity is giving you. Be aware that you share the slopes with others, be courteous and friendly, but remember we are all here to “have fun.”
So as we wrap up these final weeks of skiing – hopefully in the sun – be aware of changing conditions. Morning will be crispy with some “packed powder/frozen granular.” By mid-day, expect a transition to “corn snow” and soft bumps. Remember your “upright athletic stance” and vary the width of your stance as conditions dictate. Stay in the front of your boots.
All this is important stuff, but, more importantly – just ski! Just make some turns and enjoy the sensation of moving in space. Select little fun pieces of terrain – that little hop you can make at the bump by the lift tower, take a glide through the “island of trees” on Mardi Gras, go to Morning Star, Chute or Falcon and enjoy some soft spring moguls. Who cares how you look, take your time and play in them! Take a tour of the resort and look around. Stop in a safe place and take in the view. If you go down Bear Cub, just before the big sweeping turn to the left two thirds of the way down, stop and can take in the whole expanse of the valley and mountains south of the resort. Go to the top of Falcon and look northeast and take in the village of Ellicottville and the views of the hills running to the north. Soak up the sun, nature and the pleasure you experience in this wonderful winter sport we are all a part of.
Thanks for reading these articles this season, I enjoy the gracious comments I have received from many of you about what I have written here these past few months.
To wrap it for another season, here’s my last bit of advice: Share it or savor it but take a moment to be in the moment, and maybe, like I did yesterday, you may just remember the fun of skiing.
So… just ski!
Have a safe off-season.
See you on the slopes!
Learn-Turn- Smile –Repeat!