Friday, January 20, 2006

Racing and Touring

The difference between racing and touring is science.

The racer will follow carefully designed plans for nutrition and exertion in order to achieve maximum performance on race day. The racer will pay meticulous attention to ski base preparation and waxing on a molecular level.

Some would say that's the difference between racing and fun.

Some racers are more devoted to details than others, but all of them seem to be able to sling the lingo.

It does appear that the more focused you are the better you will perform. So if that is your idea of fun, you will enjoy it.

I hate to be forced to choose very specific activities all year long just to improve performance in one season. A season like we're having right now shows that you can't count on getting to do what you've trained for. Skiing evolved where warm or snowless winters were rare. We've simply transplanted it to places that seemed wintry to us at the time, but are pale imitations of skiing's ancestral home. And as the climate changes they are getting even more feeble.

New England used to boast of "eight months of winter and four months of poor sledding." It was probably always an exaggeration. Now it's more like "two months of summer and ten months of challenging biking."

Of course I hope it gets better. There's certainly room for improvement right now.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

It's Not Funny

A winter like we're having makes me hope there isn't a God. If a supreme being could let the entire winter sports industry in the northeast get pounded with excrement like this I would not want to live in that universe.

Winter recreation made winter worthwhile. Without it we might as well all be grumpy bastards just counting the days until we can move to Florida. I lived in Florida. I left. Doesn't that tell you something?

Florida's biggest pollutant is all the people pouring in there from colder climates, building developments, sucking up drinking water, pouring out waste and filling the roads, beaches and waterways with baking precancerous bodies. California may break off and slide toward Alaska, but Florida is just going to sag beneath the waves under its load of humanity, leaving a greasy slick behind.

We need winter to be winter, so people can be happy and prosperous here. We don't need another cursed rainstorm, followed by a thaw, followed by another rainstorm. I can't suggest a single thing to make outdoor sports fun in weather like that.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Weird Winter Weather Drives Skiers Crazy

It rained hard most of last night. The snow outside the Jackson touring center looks like applesauce. So why do I keep getting calls from people who think this would be a good day to ski the famous Wildcat Valley Trail, also known as the Back Side of Wildcat or, simply, The Backside?

That last nickname plays nicely into jokes and scathing comments, so go ahead, let your imagination ramble a while.

The upper part of the trail is ungroomed, intended to provide the kind of skiing you might have found in the early years of New England skiing. While the trail itself is maintained, no one goes out to repair the snow after insult and injury from unseasonable warmth and wetness. In short, the Wildcat Valley Trail would be just about the worst choice for today. Yet it seems to be a number of people's first choice.

The lousy winter has probably convinced them to kill themselves.