Exploring the Sporting World: Skiing
Baseball and the New York Yankees have my heart. They always will. But, maybe it's time for something new.
Me. (And my family and friends, too.)
I've considered myself an athlete for all of my life. When I was growing up, I was constantly involved with my hometown recreation leagues in soccer (fall), basketball (winter), and baseball (spring). In those sports, I was always considered one of the "fast" kids. I didn't have the best technique or talent, but I had a good head on my shoulders, a desire to get better, and boy was I fast. So, it shouldn't be shock when I mention that I also ran a lot of races and joined the track team when I was in middle school.
Going into high school, I made it onto the freshman soccer team and continued running winter and spring track. I would stick with soccer as my main sport throughout my 4 years of high school, making it to the varsity level during my senior year. However, I did drop spring track during my sophomore year and winter track my senior year as other priorities came up in my life at the time.
Heading into college, I knew I wasn't going to try and walk-on to a sport, especially not a Division 1 sport at Lafayette. Instead, I went around and tried club soccer and some intramural sports, but found myself much more comfortable focusing on my own goals. I learned to weight lift and started going to weekly yoga classes. I also got back into running for myself and completed a 15-mile run. In the years since college, I have continued with athletics focused on my personal growth.
I also found some sports to participate with other. I joined a baseball league with my father and I play golf with my oldest brother and cousin (though I'm not very good). However, the one sport I've had some of the most fun with is skiing. I got into the sport because my oldest brother had his bachelor party at Camelback Mountain in the Poconos. I had to learn. I had a blast.
That evolved into having a ski trip with both my brothers last year up to Belleayre Mountain. And then, this past weekend I found myself up at Killington Mountain with a group of friends from college.
Skiing has an incredibly long history which can make some claims back over 5000 years ago as a method of travel as opposed to sport. However, the modern version of alpine skiing can trace its origins back to the 18th century as a method of military training in Norway. In the years following, skiing started to gain further popularity with competitions forming around the later half of the 19th century. Our modern day understanding of skiing, at ski resorts, with lifts began in the early parts of the 19th century and have become a very common way for people to participate in sport during the winter months.
Skiing also has a variety of levels, ranging from beginner (green/circles) to intermediate (blue/square) to advanced (black/diamonds). These levels with vary from resort to resort as an advanced/black "run" (or trail) at one resort/mountain could also be considered an intermediate/blue somewhere else. Typically, the mountains and resorts have their own systems for grading as different regions and areas will influence terrain and thus the skill and technique required to successfully navigate the path.
So far in my career as a skier (which I can consider being 3 seasons long) I have gone skiing only on the east coast at:
Camelback Mountain (PA)
Belleayre Mountain (NY)
Mount Peter (NY)
Killington Mountain (VT)
However, there are hundreds of skiing resorts and locations across the United States and rest of the world. Mostly (for obvious reasons of needing snow and cold climates) these locations are found at regions of high altitude and longitude, which puts states like Vermont, Colorado, Utah, and Montana along with countries like Switzerland, parts of France and Italy and Japan as some of the best destinations for trips.
Typically, skiing conditions find themselves in the northern hemisphere starting around the end of November/December (again, largely depending on where in the world someone lives) and can run as late as into early April. In the northeast this year, skiing conditions have been incredibly bad as there has been an overabundance of rain and lack of consistent snow fall. However, most major resorts will still be able to produce enough snow to keep runs and trails operational.
Ski trips are a great way to bring a group of people together. My trips with my family in the past have been incredibly memorable and this past weekend with my group of friends was absolutely amazing. Having that connection between people to desire to do something together is special.
What is also special is getting to fly down a mountain of snow. There is a huge component of adrenaline seeking that comes with skiing. It's why people who are incredibly skilled at the sport will often challenge themselves with trying the hardest runs, or tougher equipment, or attempt different stunts and skills. While it is a sport that can be enjoyed in large groups (and often is more enjoyable at my skill level to have a group), there is also a huge importance of self-improvement, learning, and internal competition.
I never was a fan of the winter. Basketball was my least favorite sport of the sports I played. I never was into hockey (until recently). I didn't have that joy of going to a mountain for a day or weekend or week trip to go skiing. I have that now and it makes me no longer dread the oncoming winter. Instead, it provides me something nice to look forward to when the days are getting short, and cold, and there is snow outside to shovel.
If you haven't, try it out for yourself. Head up to a popular mountain and resort and rent of a pair of skis for a weekend. Join into a ski school and learn from the teachers at the resort. If you're like me, you'll be pretty well situated by the end of that first day and only 8 days into my entire skiing career, I'm comfortably skiing blues.
Maybe, you will also find that it is a great way to find the winter more enjoyable.