I think I’ve come to terms.
The Thule still sits on the roof of my car, my boot bag is only a few feet from the spot where I sit right now in my bedroom, and the prospect of 70-degree days on the way still gives me shivers.
If acceptance is the first step, at least I’m standing, ready to put one foot in front of the other. But that’s probably about it.
There’s bound to come a point over the next few days or weeks though when the reality definitively hits. But just let me have this for now, will you?
Not that this roller coaster of emotion is really any different than any other ski season, except this feeling of denial usually comes much later; when the grass is growing, the kids’ baseball games are in full swing, and the Stanley Cup playoffs are down to about four teams.
Only in the weakest of winters should this be a crossroad at the end of March.
Alas, the COVID-19 pandemic has put all skiers and riders in a melancholic funk. The season is over (or at least, we’re 99.88 percent sure), leaving us with a withdrawal normally substituted with trips to the beach, golf course, or hiking in the mountains, dreaming of months ahead when the next snowfall is to come.
So, what does a skier or rider do to pass the time during quarantine? Yes, earning your turns is an option, but also one that comes with a whole segment of arguments for and against the activity in a time of social distancing. Then again, at what point will I be cooped up enough to start convincing my wife that our living room could really use some Skier’s Edge equipment to spruce it up?
Start with some podcasts, where fellow skiers and riders are sharing their own frustrations with the current environment. Alex Kaufman’s Wintry Mix has been doing a great job lately, interviewing those in the skiing community who have been most-affected by the shutdowns. The High Falutin Ski Bums don’t necessarily need to be on the slopes to fill two hours of air time, so they are right on track with their normal selection of beer talk and other updates from a skier’s perspective of dealing with all this. The Storm Skiing Journal and Podcast has a nice archive of interviews this season with local industry folks, including Magic Mountain’s Geoff Hathaway and Sugarbush’s Win Smith.
A lot of people have recommended watching a ski movie, and Amazon Prime has a bunch, including a healthy selection of Warren Miller films, Greg Stump’s “Blizzard of Aahhs,” and even the Tom Green classic, “Revenge of the Boarding School Dropouts.” One that I would recommend is 2017’s “Dog Days of Winter,” which is a fun re-visit to the days of hot-dogging with a wealth of interviews with members of the freestyle community who broke out during the 60’s and 70’s.
If you’d rather read about the freestyle movement, it’s just one of the topics covered in the late John Fry’s “Story of Modern Skiing,” an all-encompassing history of the sport we love. Other titles on my to-read list include Nathaniel Vinton’s “The Fall Line,” Kit DesLauriers’ “Higher Love: Skiing the Seven Summits,” and Kristen Ulmer’s “The Art of Fear: Why Conquering Fear Won’t Work and What to Do Instead.”
Or, you could just start planning your next trip once this is all behind us. Not that I’m booking anything, but I have already found $900 flights to Chile at the end of July. But more realistically, Big Snow, the new indoor ski “resort” at New Jersey’s American Dream, has to re-open at some point, right?
None of this is easy, least of all the uncertainty.
Still, it’s best to finally accept that it’s over.
I think. Maybe.
Might just keep the boots there for the time being anyway.
Let’s go to the video tape…
We’ve got you covered for additional avenues of escape with the the entire season of New England Ski Journal TV on our web site. This winter, we traveled to Jay Peak, Wachusett, Waterville Valley, Black Mountain, Cranmore, Ski Bradford, and Loon. Check out full episodes online.