Who needs snow when you’ve got boards? | SierraSun.com

Who needs snow when you’ve got boards?

Bob Sweigert

Who says we need more snow? As we experts like to say about the ski conditions, “If it’s white, it’s right.” OK, it is a little hard. Just ask my 56-year-old knees and calcified calves. Soft, deep snow would make them happy but, in spite of the lack of snowfall, there’s some good skiing to be had out there, interspersed with icy bumps, rocks and snags. Yes, I’m talking about off-trail skiing, otherwise known as real skiing.

The cold weather has preserved some classic, chalky snow, good for nice ego turns here and there. Of course it helps to have some edging skills when you hit those spots where the white stuff has been tamped down into the consistency of sheet metal.

Conditions like these have a silver lining. The weekend warriors look at our tracks off-trail in disbelief. That’s insane. How can anybody ski over there? What they see as certain death, good skiers recognize as an inviting playground, rich with obstacles and challenging surprises. Novices, for once, wisely retreat. The sweet result is that the bumps right now are shaped by professionals into nice, round graceful contours, not hacked into sharks’ teeth by people who can only ski out of control across the hill.

Only experts who know how to ski downhill venture off-trail in deceptive conditions. Just don’t fall in the steeps, you may slide faster and farther than you want to.

The groomed trails are ripe for the ripping too, but beginner and intermediate skiers beware. According to some reports, the ski patrol, ambulances and heli-vacs have been quite busy plucking seriously injured skiers off the slopes during the last few weeks. If I worked for a ski resort I would probably risk insubordination for saying so. The truth may save a life but it makes less money. I do not doubt the accuracy of the gossip.

Conditions are risky for the unschooled. You may have noticed that all I talk about is skiing. Snowboarding has not even been mentioned, until now. My reasons for omitting it are strictly pragmatic. Skiers and snowboarders strive for economy of movement. A writer strives for economy of words. If I had to mention snowboarding every time I mention skiing, then I’d have to mention women every time I discuss men. I refuse to be burdened with words and laboriously bogged down by unnecessary, politically correct dogma.

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Words are like the edges of a ski. We are free to engage them or stop using them any time we want as conditions, turns, obstacles and the need for speed dictate.

Fundamental logic says that if A equals B and B equals C then A equals C. Stick with me now. Logic will never let you down. A ski can be referred to as a board. Therefore, a snowboard can be called a ski. If a board can be a ski, then a carpenter on a pair of two-by-fours can nail a 720 with a roll and stick the landing.

A skier can ski on two skis or one. If he (or she) skis on one ski, do you then have to say he, she or it is no longer skiing but actually boarding?

Think of it. It’s kind of like the chicken and the egg, only in this case we know which came first. Simple logic elevates boarders to the status of skiers, and vice versa. One term, skiing, includes both.

Plato would be proud of me for this erudite analysis and conclusion, don’t you think?

Logic or no logic, I am going out on a limb like the cursed squirrel who has been busy dismembering tons of pine cones in the tree above my front door for the last few months. I’ve never done so much sweeping. In 27 years I have never seen a busier squirrel. Based on my nutty neighbor’s harvest, I predict that by mid-March we will be so deep in snow that the Kitchen Wall off Squaw Peak will be flat and the survivors will be desperately waiting for food drops from helicopters. Keep your shovels handy. You never know.