First Person Perspective: Skiing and LaRocque

Richie LaRocque, Editorial Editor

SHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHCK. Over the last 12 years of my life, that sound has been immortalized in my mind. That sound, the iconic, familiar, and oh-so-smooth sound of my skis blasting a tidal wave of artificial and natural snow to my sides, is the sound that has become my favorite.  And as ironic as it is, my passion for skiing all started in the summer time, long before I was born.

While the following story might be a little farfetched, it’s what I’ve come to accept as the origin of my love for skiing.  Back when he was about my age, my father, living on a lake during the summer, bored and only having a small motor boat, learned to water ski. According to him, that boat was only barely strong enough to tow him behind it, and when he couldn’t find a pair of water skis to try it out on, he decided to be towed on a spare wooden door. Now believe me, I’m not quite sure that this is exactly how it happened, but as far as I know, that real door that my father skied on for the first time, was the metaphoric door to my future as a skier.

Fast forward some 20 some-odd years to my first year of elementary school (excepting kindergarten of course), to my first experience on a ski resort. And while it might not be the biggest mountain, Butternut Ski Area has taken a special place in my mind as the place where I stomped my plastic, rear entry, Nordica Super N 0.1 boots into a pair of mediocre-at-best rental skis.

I still remember my first time going down the bunny hill, needless to say I was a bit scared, but I just kept remembering what my instructor had told me. “Make your skis look like a slice of pizza!” he said, and so I did. I slowly learned how to maneuver myself into a large “S” that swept all across that gently sloping hill. I quickly progressed, advancing far beyond that of the other young, nervous skiers in my group.

That day, the fateful Thursday where my instructor told me that I was too advanced for his bunny hill group, was the best day I had since Christmas (where I’m fairly sure I was given a Nintendo 64 by Santa). That day, I hopped on the four-person chair lift for the first time, and was taken in by shock and awe at how high the chair went. During my time on the lift, looking down at much more advanced skiers than me, aspiring to reach their level someday, seeing some renegade kids skiing under the lift (which wasn’t a trail at that particular spot), and sneaking a quick gaze at the small pine tree that the staff of the mountain dresses up like a Christmas tree, I had butterflies in my stomach.

Ten minutes after boarding the lift, my journey up the mountain ended. Little did I know that the journey I just took on the chair, one that filled me with such shock and bewilderment, was microscopic compared to the gigantic journey I was about to experience in my first trip down from the summit of the mountain.

I moseyed on over to the top of the first trail, following my vastly older student group. It was then, for the first time, that I saw what I was really about to face. Compared to the bunny hill, this beginner’s trail still looked to me as if it were the steepest, most challenging trail on the mountain. But, there was no way out for me at that point, I swallowed my fears, and pointed the tips of my skis down a real trail for the first time. I took off. The rush that I felt as soon as I began to truly accelerate and experience skiing at even it’s most basic stage was an adrenaline rush I had never felt before. It was terrifying, but more importantly, it was exhilarating.

That rush is what most people gravitate towards the sport for. The thirst for that rush is what has propelled skiers like Bode Miller and Simon Dumont to the titles of the best skiers in the world. That rush is the rush I get when I’m flying down the face of the mountain, my headphones unsympathetically blasting the Offspring in my ears at full blast, as I lose my focus on the rest of the world. Everything else becomes irrelevant, everything just fades away, and the only thing that matters to me at that point is that my skis are underneath me and I’m having the time of my life.

And while the adrenaline rush is fantastic, there’s also something very serene about skiing. There’s always a rare run that can be taken, where you find a quiet, nearly perfectly preserved trail off to the side of the mountain. Skiing that one peaceful trail, lethargically and lazily, lets you really take it all in. When the only thing you hear is the sound of your skis gracefully carving over the practically obsessively perfect groomed snow, and all you can see is pine trees and light snow fall, you really find yourself at peace.

Since then, the day which I lost my worries about the rest of the world for the first time on “Pied Piper,” I have continued to hone my skiing skills, and every winter, without fail, I strap up my boots and head out to the mountain, regardless of which one. Once at the base of the hill, I lay my skis down on the pure white snow in front of me, and slam my foot into my bindings.  That buckle, that sound of boots being completely secured into a pair of skis, that oh-so-crisp sound, lets me know that I’m about to set out on another awesome journey down the mountain.