Too risky to ski?
Doing the white stuff in Colorado.
Over the Christmas and New Year period, with so many Top 10 lists of the best and worst of everything, I was happy to escape the fray by going to Colorado.
Not that I am one of those anti-Christmas/pro-globalisation/PC types, but so many people with so few new ideas always gets me down around the festive season. So fun, fun, fun in the snow was the order of the day…until the warnings about the dangers of skiing started to emerge from all quarters.
‘Watch out – my mother got brain damage from smashing into a tree without a helmet’, I was advised during a stopover in New York. ‘Those snow-boarders are so reckless’, said another. A London friend of mine, who doesn’t buy into panics, told me I would encounter officials with whistles on the ski slopes, handing out printed warnings and advice to skiers.
I was pleasantly relieved when I arrived at Steamboat Srings – which, incidentally, has the highest proportion of Olympic ski medallists anywhere in America. There was lots of snow; 27 inches fell during the first 24 hours I was there. ‘The worst storm for a hundred years is coming to Colorado this week!’, said the news reports. Goody, I thought, not liking to do anything by halves.
The storm never came. But there were still some challenges ahead, including Steamboat Srings’ petrifying half-pipe (the biggest in America). To my shame, I never conquered it – which was especially depressing after my partner’s father, who is in his seventies, bolted down it without a care in the world.
Within days, I was happily flying down the black slopes. There were many calls for us to wear protective headgear to avoid nasty accidents with trees. Yet isn’t the whole point of this sport to pit skill and athleticism against potential pitfalls? I couldn’t help thinking this as I whizzed past the majestic beauty of the panoramic scenery, with the wind and powder of the snow flying me along.
I don’t have a particular problem with the idea of protecting our heads – especially from the notion that taking risks is A Very Bad Thing, to be avoided at all costs. Fortunately, I was lucky enough to fall in with an ‘irresponsible’ crowd, who ate high-cholesterol food, enjoyed drinking at lunch times, and loved the speed of the slopes. If only we could stop being so doom-laden about our world, assuming that just about everyone is on the edge of a nervous breakdown.
Indeed, in these troubled times, the idea that skiing is really so dangerous seems just a little crazy…
Alan Miller a film director, currently working on Eroica!, a wised-up film about classical music and being successful in the twenty-first century.
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