4 Minutes and 22 Seconds of Down-Time.

I stand perched on top of the world,  feeling like Zeus looking down from Mt. Olympus.  Grey cotton puffs of cloud carpet the valley floor, thousands of feet below.   The jagged peaks of the Monashees break the distant horizon like so many saw-teeth.  Diamond snow crystals reflect the pale yellow sunlight on the ground in front of me.

This isn’t a very difficult ski run.  In fact, it’s the easiest route to the bottom.   But it’s the beginning of the day and hardly anyone has skied on it yet.  

Plus the trail is perfectly groomed by the machines from the night before.  The snow has the consistency of flat, even  cordurory, like a white chenille bedspread.

Hero snow, they call it.  Easy to ski on.   A long smooth runway lies in front of me, with no bumps or obstacles.   

And I know what this means…

It’s GO time.

I put on my goggles, point my skis tips down the hill, and let gravity pull me.

The trail widens, and my velocity increases.   I start to do a few turns.   Not the  small Mickey-Mouse zig-zagging kind.    But the big arcing super-G turns, each hundreds of feet long.   

My velocity increases.  The gentle wind now whistles indignantly past my ears.  I crouch down, into a football stance, my hands in front of me like handlebars on a high-powered motorcycle.   I start to feel the gees increase as I trace my huge sine-waves onto the virgin corduroy. 

I see three black dots ahead:  two snowboarders and a skier.  

Hmph.   Beginners, going really slow.

Roger that.   We have Bogies at twelve o-clock.

I need to get past them.   I anticipate where they’ll turn and make a quick calculation.  Like an F-18 Fighter, I roar past them like they’re standing still.   

Now that I have the entire trail open in front of my, I’m REALLY ready to cut loose. 

Flexing at my ankles, knees and hips, I bend my body into a C-shape, and ride the single razor edge of my ski.   I can feel myself accelerate into the turn.   My feet feel like they’re slipping on a wet bar of soap, ready to zoom out in front of me.  

But I maintain the delicate balance:  almost, but not quite losing control, gaining more and more speed.  Then I shift my weight and for a split second,  my skis are in free-fall.  Then the pressure builds up on the opposite edge, as I start the next turn.

I do this over and over.   There’s a rhythm to this, like a pendulum.   A high-speed rocket pendulum.  This is such a euphoric feeling.   This is what I’ve been waiting to do all year.

The wind is now roaring in my ears like a jet engine.  My jacket is flapping like a flag in a hurricane.  My mouth forms a wide grimace as I suck in oxygen.   My quads are burning masses of fire, but I don’t care.  I’m going like a bat out  of hell, and right now, nothing else in life matters.

I can’t help but  hear  Bruce Sprinstein’s “Born to Run” in my head.   It just makes me want to scream and go even FASTER!

Taking a last-chance power-dive, I negotiate the last section of the trail.  There are a few knolls, and by timing it right, I get instants of almost weightlessness as I fly over them.

(OMG!  This is fun!!)   There is no amusement park in the whole world that can match this exhilaration!  I hear screaming noises,  and realize it’s me, making my own sound effects.  I’m a five-year old kid, pretending to be a Tie-fighter  from the Star Wards movies.  

 “RRRRRRROAHHH!   RRRRROOOAHHH!”

One last huge 90 degree left turn,  and I”m whizzing dangerously close to the snow fence.  The run is almost over.   I see the chairlift a few hundred yards away.  I’m there within moments.  

The sign says “SLOW DOWN”, which I contemptuously ignore until the very end.   I do a few quick jamming turns to shed my excess speed, and coast into the lift line for a perfect landing.

I’m panting, because I probably forgot to breathe. 

My eyes are wet… From the wind getting through my goggles ,perhaps.   Or maybe tears of joy. 

Maybe a bit of both.

Anyway, time to go up and do it all over again.

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64 Comments on “4 Minutes and 22 Seconds of Down-Time.”

  1. veredd Says:

    Wow.

    You captured it beautifully.

    I can’t ski like you, but I know what you mean about the thrill, the exhilaration, and about forgetting everything else while you ski.

  2. jeremy Says:

    I wish I had runs like that near me… I can’t wait for Tahoe in March!

    Excellent

  3. Kelly Says:

    Friar,

    I stand perched on top of the world, feeling like Hera looking down from Mt. Olympus. Only bulkier. Stupid coat.

    Two feet, three feet… Then I fall on my tush and give up. Who made mountains so freakin’ high, anyway?

    😉

    *ahem* Sorry. It was beautiful. I got seasick and sore just reading it.

    When you aren’t being snarky, you have such an awesome way with words.

    Keep shooshing!

    Regards,

    Kelly

  4. XUP Says:

    I stopped breathing in the middle of your exposition. Very gripping. You should use it for the beginning of a story of suspense.

  5. Peter Says:

    I felt I was there.

    BX Express?

    I’m so glad it wasn’t a repeat of F.I.S. When it comes to this kind of thing, a happy ending is the best.

  6. Friar Says:

    @vered
    Yup…you get it! Skiing is a great feeling, no matter what level someone might be at.

    @jeremy
    Well, I DON’T have runs like this where I live. I only get this a few weeks a year when I’m on vacation! (But Tahoe is none too shabby….porbably bigger than the moutain I’m on)

    @Kelly
    Oh, you woudlnt’ fall on your tush. You’d probably be the slow-moving bogies that I’d blow right by.

    @XUP
    Thanks for the compliment. This probalby WOULD make for a great suspense story. (The only problem is coming up with the 50,000 words that follow!) 😉

    @Peter
    Yeah, you got it. You’ve been there (and you’vce probably gone down this even faster than I ever did).

    F.I.S. (Shudder). That’s a BAD one.


  7. Yow-za! I feel invigorated just reading that!

  8. Neil Says:

    Fantastic! I’m not much a skier, more of a tobagganer. Growing up there was an old mini ski hill that had been shut down. It had BIG signs saying no tobagganing, so we did. It took 5 minutes to walk to the top and 30 seconds to reach the bottom. What a great rush, now I need to go find another hill like that.

  9. Amy Says:

    That’s it. I’m skiing vicariously through you from now on.

    🙂

  10. Mer Says:

    Woah. I thought you were going to kill yourself.

    Mer, paranoid freak who managed to [severely] sprain a groin muscle first time out and will never ski again.

  11. Kelly Says:

    Friar,

    Like Amy, vicarious skiing will do, thanks. My tush wouldn’t be caught dead on a mountain!

    Mer,

    If he killed himself, who’d write this post? 🙂

    Until later,

    Kelly

  12. Friar Says:

    @Rebecca
    Yeah…I think I’m going to keep re-reading this post all year, to invigorate myself. (Especially when I get the post-vacation doldrums!)

    @Neil
    Toboganning was fun as a kid…when I tried it again as an adult, it was FAST and SCARY! We adults are much heavier, hence, we have way more momentum and the ability to wreck ourselves! Skiing is much safer, I find. Toboganning scares the crap out of me!

    @Amy
    Okay, I’ll be your virtual ski buddy! 🙂

    @Mer
    You should see when I write about the DIFFICULT ski runs I go down. (that scare me!)

    @Kelly
    Well, if you like the cold and snow so much (as you say you do), sooner or later you’ll have to bite the bullet and learn to ski.

    My Mom’s an excellent instructor. She can give you a great lesson. She teaches “Never-Evers” all the time. (People who’ve never even seen snow, let alone put on a pair of skis).

  13. Kelly Says:

    Friar,

    Nope. Sixteen reasons why not, ranging from quite good reasons to very silly ones. It all adds up to, nope.

    🙂

    But I love hearing about your adventures!

    Later,

    Kelly

  14. Mer Says:

    @ Kelly

    Emil Dickinson? “I heard a fly buzz when I died…” 😉

  15. Friar Says:

    @Kelly
    Well, my Mom says shes respects that. Because some people will not learn to ski, ever. They just dont’ want to.

    Too bad. It’s so much fun.

    @Mer
    Emily Dickinson? Oh yeah…now THERE’s someone who lived life to the extreme! 😉

  16. Allison Day Says:

    So well written, Friar, this sounds amazing! But… I’ll bet you if I tried that, I’d find every possible way to injure myself on the way down. And then some. I’m clumsy like that. 😉

    I think I’ll sit on the sidelines with Amy and Kelly and ski vicariously through you for now… at least until I don’t care about staying uninjured for ballet. (Like that’s going to happen anytime soon…) 😀

  17. Friar Says:

    @Allison

    Well, I’m not totally wreckless when I ski like that. I can see the trail ahead of me, there are no blind corners and I’m going fast, but I’m in control.

    (Unlike 8 years ago….I did a stupid thing and skied down another run too fast…and DID injure myself!)

    But skiing is like driving a car. If you follow the rules, it’s perfectly safe. But if you want to be an idiot, you’re gonna get hurt.

    I’m somewhere in between (well, actually I’m pretty safe now…after that last injury!) 🙂

  18. Kelly Says:

    Friar,

    Old injuries, darlin’. One wrong twist and I’m back to surgery… or worse, just plain paralyzed. Hopefully your mom would forgive me that.

    (So there. And that’s just the good excuse!)

    😉

  19. Mer Says:

    @ Friar

  20. Mer Says:

    @ Friar

    That was Emil, her evil twin. ” 😀

    (Sorry about the comment burp there…)

  21. Friar Says:

    @Kelly

    Ohhh..that’s right. Your back injury. (Okay….you have a valid excuse!)

    @Mer
    Never knew she had an evil twin! That explains a lot! 😉

  22. Kelly Says:

    Friar,

    Hehe. Pester me enough, and I pull out… The Excuse.

    It’s more effective than all the other stuff, like heights are icky, and I’m seasick thinking about that much motion… which are equally true, but nobody ever thinks they’re legit.

    Later,

    Kelly

  23. Friar Says:

    @Kelly
    Well, you can ski vicariously through me. Maybe later this week I’ll post the time I went down a run called “Free Fall”. A 45 degree slope through trees. That one even scares ME.

  24. Brett Legree Says:

    That was pretty damned awesome.

    I think that when someone writes like this, it is even better than if you put a video camera on your head – sure, the video does the picture for you, but does it capture the feelings?

    You gotta get a job in BC… 🙂

  25. XUP Says:

    It could just be a short story — much less words in those


  26. […] the garden, Robert walking hand in hand with Mrs. MZM, Ulla twirling through the muse yard,  and Friar zig-zagging down the slopes I find it sad that some are missing out on the small moments of […]


  27. Smiles. Thanks for this one. I love the do it again do it again… really exhilarating.

  28. Eyeteaguy Says:

    I didn’t laugh once. Your post wasn’t very funny. You understand that I visit here to laugh.

    You are like Metallica doing a love song. Dude! You sold out to get laid!

    Email me when you are funny again.

    Eyeteaguy

  29. Friar Says:

    @Brett
    It FELT awesome when I was actually doing the skiing part.

    You’re right…I gotta find a job out here and move to BC. Or at least Alberta.

    @XUP
    I’ve never written any ficiton more than, 1500 words, say. A short story. Hmmmm. I think that would a really interesting excercise I’d like to try one day.

    @Janice
    I love the do it again do it again part too. Which I’m actually doing, every day! (Actually, I just came off that exact same run less than 15 minutes ago…I’m back at the condo, having a lunch break)

  30. Friar Says:

    @Eyeteaguy

    Selling out to get laid?

    Exactly HOW?

    (‘coz whatever my writing is doing, I can assure you it sure as hell isn’t doing anything to help me in that department!) 😉

  31. Kelly Says:

    Francis,

    Metallica doing a love song—LMAO.

    Friar,

    Out there in B.C. the pool of candidates has *got* to be larger than in Splat Creek… You’ve got about a week to publicize your selling-out, then you’ll be back to Claire and the mayor. 😉

  32. Brett Legree Says:

    @Francis & Kelly,

    Metallica did a version of “Whiskey In The Jar”, which is (sort of) a love song, or a song of love and betrayal, I suppose.

    IMNSHO it’s about the only damned song they’ve done that was worth recording since the Justice album… but then again I’m “old school” and I don’t get the “nu metal”.

  33. Kelly Says:

    Brett,

    That was a frightening reinterpretation of a song I remember well from my youth. Eeew.

    The real thing.

  34. Brett Legree Says:

    For modern interpretations, I prefer the Thin Lizzy version myself…

  35. Kelly Says:

    Brett,

    You know you’re getting on when a cover from 1972 counts as “modern.” LOL.

    (I didn’t know they did anything besides The Boys Are Back in Town. Whoa.)

  36. Brett Legree Says:

    Kelly,

    No kidding, eh?

    Truth be told, this song is best played in an Irish pub when everyone is three sheets to the wind…

    Like my fave hangouts from university days

    http://www.corktownpub.ca/

    Good times there… good times…

  37. Kelly Says:

    Brett,

    Looks lovely!

    Allen’s on Danforth, the next time you’re stirring up trouble in Tor.

    😉

    Of, course, I would never be three sheets to the wind. *ahem!* But if I were, I might try to be at Allen’s.

  38. Friar Says:

    @Brett and Kelly
    Oh, look. I was out this afternoon, and missed the party.

    Brett, I didn’t know you listened to something as tame as Metallica.

    Usually, isn’t it your scary Viking-Rock? (You know, there they scream, spill blood and sacrifice small animals?)

  39. Brett Legree Says:

    @Friar,

    Old ‘tallica was pretty good (Ride the Lightning and Master of Puppets days) – new stuff – meh.

    @Kelly,

    I’ve been there 😉 and drunk too…

  40. Kelly Says:

    Friar,

    This post was about skiing, huh? And massive, heart-pounding thrills and sizzling writing and stuff like that….

    Oops. I knew that, but I kinda forgot.

    Here. *holds out something shiny* You can have the keys to your blog back, now.

  41. Brett Legree Says:

    Kelly,

    I guess it was time for you and I to hijack Friar’s blog, eh?

    ^ ^
    . .
    ^
    o

  42. Kelly Says:

    Heh.

    When you say it that way… ’bout time is right!

  43. Friar Says:

    @Brett and Kelly

    Heh heh. It’s pretty hilarious that MY blog got hijacked for a change. 🙂

    I’m just flattered that the Deep Friar is a place where people can hang out and have a chat, even while I’m not there.

  44. Kelly Says:

    And it didn’t even involve salmon.

    ^^
    . .
    ^
    o

  45. Friar Says:

    @Kelly

    Salmon….??

    HUH?

  46. Kelly Says:

    Ask Janice. 😉

  47. Dale Says:

    Great stuff, Friar! You certainly have a way with words. I am sure it was Far Out to BX Express!! I have logged a few thrilling Mach 8 carves on that run too. However, my survival instincts kick in at a much earlier point, and I always put on the breaks before reaching Mach 10.

    I can’t wait to see your prose on those gnarly double-diamond bump runs!

  48. Eyeteaguy Says:

    Metalica should have renamed themselves Acustica.

    Metalica is what girls listen to when they want to be “bad”.

    Go over to Brett’s place and you’ll see what bad really is.

    I used to be a nice mild mannered humanities student. Now look at me. Granted my exposure to Brett was long term and intense but you get the idea.

    And what’s all this about skiing? How did we get on to wintersports in the first place.

    Eye “take me to Cuba” teaguy

  49. Brett Legree Says:

    Heh heh, I remember the time I caught you tapping your foot to Napalm Death… muahahahaha!

    I tell you though, nothing will ever top the Kyuss show we saw. Kyuss is the shit.

    Hmm. I think I’ll have to listen to some Kyuss tonight, with a rum & Coke 🙂

    Skiing, what’s that?

  50. Friar Says:

    @Dale
    Thanks!

    But as for writing about the double-black diamond mogul runs…I don’t know if it would be as exciting. I’d probababy have to write: Did three turns. Lost control. Had to stop to catch breath. Did three more turns, etc…

    @Eyeteaguy
    Yeah…Metallilca is like James Taylor, compared to the Gorgoroth-Skull-Chucking Viking Rock Brett listens to. (He keeps sending me snippets of videos on You-Tube). Be afraid. Be very afraid.

    @Brett
    Those rock videos on You Tube. Those people aren’t REALLY being crucified, are they? (I mean, they’re just actors, right?) 🙂

  51. Brett Legree Says:

    They were just actors (but Gorgoroth can’t return to Poland ever again, for that little stunt…)

  52. Friar Says:

    @Brett

    I guess NOT, eh? (Poland’s a pretty Catholic country!)

  53. Steph Says:

    Ho-ly shit, Friar. I felt as though I was skiing with you. This post rocked!! I’m in awe. Well done! I’ve said before I’m not a skiier, but I could really feel your exhilaration and the thrill and it kind of made me want to suit up!

    Title was very good, too.

    But it reminds me why I don’t love skiing. Takes longer to go up than down. Meh.

  54. Friar Says:

    @Steph

    Well, with the new high-speed 6-pack chairlifts, the time it takes to go up has been reduced dramatically.

    In fact, I’m skiing so much, I WELCOME the rest up the chairlift. My legs are so shot.

  55. Steph Says:

    Hmmm. I guess the lift up is not so laborious as trudging up the hill dragging your toboggan. I don’t remember being a big fan of that, either. Now getting a lift up to something that takes you almost all day to get down…I might buy that.

  56. Brett Legree Says:

    I’ll bet that years ago (just when the first automatic lifts were invented, rope tows or whatever), the old-timers complained that they would “ruin” skiing because it would make it easy to get up the hill!

    I always wondered if that happened (I’ve seen it in so many other sports when things came along that made it easier to get into the sport).

  57. Friar Says:

    @Brett and Steph
    I’ve skied since the 60’s (Gawd..that makes me sound OLD!) And I’ve seen how the lifts changed.

    Used to be slow T-Bars, or old double-chairs. You could wait 20,30 even 45 minutes to go up the hill ONCE! (That really sucked, but that’s all we had…we didn’t know any better).

    In the 80’s, they came up with the detachable quad chairlifts, that pumped people up the hill so fast, life lines werent’ really an issue any more.

    Compared to 20 years ago, you can get more skiing today by noon, then you used to be able to do all day.

    So I’d say things have DEFINITELY improved.

  58. Friar Says:

    PS. Though lift ticket prices have gone up to pay for all these high-fallutin’ lifts and special snow-grooming machines.

    To ski a big moutain out West, you’re looking at 70-90 bucks a day. If not more. (OUCH!)

  59. Brett Legree Says:

    I suppose the lift ticket prices have also gone up to, err, put more money in the pockets of the resort owners!

    I was just thinking about it (the times before motorized lifts) because as an “old-timer” in paintball, I remember the outcries when *evil semi-automatics* were introduced.

    “It’ll ruin the sport! It’ll take all the skill out of it!”

    Umm, yeah. All it really did was make it more accessible to the average Joe or Jolene, and helped it grow. Much like the chair lifts.

    (I mean, who the heck would want to walk up a hill?)

  60. t.sterling Says:

    The title just hit me… I think if I were ever asked if I wanted to go, I think now I might say yes a bit quicker than saying no… with an instructor of course. But what an awesome ride, and I think I may need my iPod to see which song works best with such excitement.

  61. Friar Says:

    @Brett
    Actually, the ski hills are suffering. Even with the high lift ticket prices, it dosen’t cover the operational expenses. All that grooming and snowmaking costs $$$$

    The big thing is Real Estate The resorts make all their money by developping condos on the hill and selling units to rich yuppies and rich retirees.

    But you wonder how long that will last. (???)

    @t

    Once you get a few proper lessons, and learn the basics, skiing is perfectly safe. Your safety is limited by your own stupidity (i.e. how far you want to push your limist).

    My level of stupidity is, well…kinda high. But there’s nothing stopping people from going down the exact same run, but at a lower speed, and playing their iPod tunes to their hearts’ content.

    Acutally, the newer ski jackets are wired for iPods. (With the iPOD push-button controls embedded right on the sleeve!)

  62. Brett Legree Says:

    @Friar,

    Assuming that our “marvellous government” doesn’t sell off everything out there to foreign interests once the locals can’t support it anymore (I’m not holding out for this, remember Banff?) – maybe someday the prices will be more affordable again.

    I guess that’s one reason why I want to be either independently employed or at least working for a company that allows telecommuting. You can find some nice spots out there if you look – but of course you have to look far off the beaten track (I’m still fascinated by Bella Coola myself).

    I mean, where we live is sort of the same – too far away from the GTA for any developers to care. But instead of majestic mountains, we have majestic blackflies.

    I suppose you could almost ski on them mid-spring, they are so thick… 🙂


  63. […] runs, and learning to ski bumps and moguls! Not that I ever expect to be able to do this, or even this… But I’m sure going to push myself as far as I can go. I can’t wait to see how […]


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