Thursday, January 3, 2013

Skiing is good for body and soul

originally appeared in

At 87, veteran ski filmmaker Warren Miller described the sport he still enjoys by saying after a good run, when you get to the bottom of the hill, you're a different person. You have been psychoanalyzed. It's like somebody drilled a hole in your brain, inserted all this wonderful scenery, people, snow, and freedom. Skiing forces out all the bad stuff from your head.

I think most skiers would find it hard to argue with that.

Whether you are at the top of the bunny slope or a double black run, there is just something about that moment when you let go and test yourself. There is no team effort, no coach prodding you on, skiing is just between you and the mountain. You have to work it out. It's a release from everything — except the moment.

Now, particularly in the beginning, I will admit it seems to take an eternity to get to that moment in time when you are at peace with yourself on the mountain. The awkwardness of balancing skis and poles and walking in those clunky boots just has to be endured. Then, you have to buy lift tickets without dropping gloves in the snow, followed by the even more difficult task of folding, peeling and sticking the ticket to the jacket's zipper without having the skis slide away from you.

After hearing the critical sound of the clean binding click that the instructor reminded you about and dislodging the snow from the sole of your boot with a ski pole, you head to the lift corral to await the chair that will knock your knees out from under you. All the while, you are endeavoring to keep the tips of your ski up and your poles from stabbing someone.

Initially, the beauty of the scenery is short lived, because the fear of unloading, falling and embarrassing yourself becomes quite real. Yet, that's the wonderful thing about skiing: there is no turning back. We all had to muddle through it and, like you, we had to face our fears head-on. You are virtually on a one way street. Skiing is commitment.

No doubt you will wade through a few challenges, but, once you have "arrived," it's like you are on top of the world! You can fly! There are no limits, just endless possibilities. This is one sport where you get out what you put into it! Choose sweet and easy or wild and crazy, it's your call. Skiing can literally take you to new heights, so enjoy the ride.

In addition to this sensational feeling of freedom, I have a few other really great reasons why you should try this sport:

1. Skiing is made to be enjoyed with friends and family. Think about it. Not every grandma can play soccer, but there are some amazing grannies on the slopes today.

2. Skiing is a super calorie burner. It's easy to push the envelope physically in a very controlled setting, so it's good for your heart to pound a little.

3. The scenery is spectacular and exhilarating.

4. Skiing is a perfect place to meet people, particularly the opposite sex, besides most of us look better in ski clothes than swimsuits. Also, what other sport gives you the chance to shout out "single" (like in the lift line) and find a potential match so easily?

5. Last, but definitely not least: you can't apres' ski (party after hours) until you have skied!

Over the Christmas holidays, Rob and I watched the movie "A League of Their Own."

Tom Hanks used this great line to encourage his all-ladies wartime ball team: If it wasn't hard, everyone would do it. It's what makes it hard that makes it great.

I think that line applies really well to the sport of skiing, for there is nothing we cannot accomplish when we put our mind to it. Even though I have learned our bodies are not invincible and can be broken, age is not a barrier to learning to ski or snowboard. Just getting out there and trying does wonders for our self esteem. Skiing makes us vulnerable again, allows us to get out of our comfort zone, and lets the kid in us come out and play.

Ski season is here. The mountains out west are off to a record start. We have some deals to "snow" you out of your mind! For example, check out these great offers from 3 of my favorite ski resorts:

» Snowmass: Purchase air to Aspen with five night accommodations, and the third air ticket gets up to $500 off.

» Copper Mountain: Third night of lodging free, plus kids ski free.

» Keystone: Stay two nights, plus kids ski free, and there are no black out dates and no limit on the number of children per adult, so your kids can bring a friend.

Now, remember, just like the snow flurries that dotted the skies of Sterlington on Christmas night, these deals may not last long. It's a perfect time to plan some winter fun.