A favorite quote of mine is Dolores La Chapelle’s words on skiing powder. She says, “Powder Skiing isn’t fun; It’s life. Life fully lived in a blaze of reality.”
I don't believe powder skiing evokes a simple happiness the way we believe it does. It’s more than that. It’s a complex emotion made up of so many parts, for example: life. We can’t truly comprehend how something we perceive to be so simple, can make us feel so complete in that single moment. It’s a happiness that we can’t understand.
Why does the world fade away when you bounce effortlessly through a field of untracked snow? What makes you whoop and holler when you shuffle your feet and realize there’s no bottom to be found?
Humans, we aren’t so simple, and because of that, nothing really is. We discredit ourselves with simplicity - we proclaim something to be simple when we believe we understand it. We use one-word descriptors like “fun” because we crave quick and succinct explanations for emotions that are anything but. I beg of you, dig deep. The details are important. The details are who we are, and why we are.
I’m not a skier because it’s “fun”. My eyes don’t light up when I read a forecast predicting snow because it’s “fun”. Every nerve in my body doesn’t fire with excitement when I dream of floating through powder and flying through the air because it’s “fun”.
Nothing is simple; only simply understood.
I’m a skier because my parents were generous enough to share their love of winter with me at a young age. I’m a skier because I loved ski school hot chocolate breaks in the lodge. I’m a skier because it made me an anomaly in New Jersey. I’m a skier because it pushed me to learn hard lessons on my own, apart from a team. I’ve learned to fall and get back up, despite the real possibility of falling again. I’m a skier because it is my rock, my zen, my safe place in a crazy world. I’m a skier because of the people you meet on chairlifts and skin tracks; everyone has a story to tell. I’m a skier because of my personal attachment to the great outdoors and the unrelenting mountains that demand my respect.
I’m a skier because life is too short to watch from the sidelines. I’ve found passion here. I feel it in my bones. I hear it in bursts of laughter from people covered in powder snow —even if their “faceshots” only came from over-the-handlebar mishaps.
At the end of the day, when you can smile at a friend, high five, and say, “that was a good day”, it isn’t because it was “fun”. It’s because with every turn you felt more alive than when you woke up that morning. You lived life again and again - with every memory and emotion in perfect harmony. It “simply” felt right.