Thursday, March 13, 2008

Van Winkles Awaken

My new term for people who act like they came out of a two or three decade coma and headed straight for the ski area on their archaic gear is "van Winkles."

Someone on a forum referred to "van Winkling" the upcoming election. I knew exactly what she meant. I've been tempted to van Winkle the entire political process from now until my death. Anyway, I love the term for someone so out of touch that they appear to have slept the years away.

Of course van Winkles are full of questions. Stuff more than a decade old looks like the latest to them. They're trying to get their heads around bindings that are about to be swept aside by a new system. Don't go back to sleep yet, my friends!

Astounding amounts of old ski equipment attached to skiers in out of date clothing from several eras seems to have emerged from basements, garages, attics and crawl spaces to bask in the baking glory of late winter sunshine. Perhaps these blinking, tousle-headed lost souls in cross-buttoned pajamas presage a new Nordic boom. Their gear certainly dates from the last one. But it isn't worn out as if it had been used hard and continuously since 1982. Much of it looks pristine, as if it had sat, boots in their box, skis in the corner, while the owner lay inert. It signals to me a resurgent interest in self-propelled sport. Maybe that crowd will attract a bigger crowd, as more people gather to see what's going on and to sample the fun.

It would be too much to expect the commercial custodians of the technical and educational side of the sport not to blow it as badly this time as they did the last time. On the plus side, the vast expansion of media and information outlets kills fads in less than half the time it used to take. From this Nordic skiing will probably extract a few new adherents, just as cycling managed to garner a few actual continuing cyclists from the carnage and debacle of the mountain bike boom.

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