Monday, January 30, 2012

Cross-country skiing in New England

Did New England ever really have the winters depicted in popular myth? If they ever occurred, they don't anymore. We can't even seem to get an average winter most years, let alone an epic one.

Whether the decline in cross-country skiing is really due to changing climate or to a long-overdue acknowledgment that snow conditions are normally inadequate south of the mountains, the sport is clearly dwindling. The people who love it love it, but fewer and fewer people are falling in love with it. It's too unreliable.

Resorts in the mountains will still be able to provide skiing for something like a full season. Skiing belongs in the mountains. We may revise our standard of what a full season means, but mountain weather will probably produce snow for many years after it has become rare around the middle and southern part of New Hampshire and all of southern New England. One or two big storms every couple of years won't be enough to support sophisticated grooming equipment at a touring center if the rest of the time they get meager slush, rain and mud. Sliding around on cross-country skis will be a novelty, not a lifestyle.

Every time we get a storm, calls come in. People want to believe. Personally I feel more and more like I don't have time to waste encouraging people to pursue an activity they won't be able to keep doing regularly even if they want to.  With all the uncertainty about the nation's and the world's economic future, should people really be wasting money on a mere sport, and a dying one at that?

The ski industry says, "The heck with that! You just need to buy more stuff! If your stuff isn't working, it's the wrong stuff! Buy different stuff! You'll get to use it eventually!" Bless their little hearts. Everyone wants to keep their thing going as long as possible. I'd like to believe the climate could settle down again and that people could prosper enough to play out in it. I'm just afraid that for most of the past four decades we've already been on stolen time.

No comments: