Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Snow Sports Have Grown Up

Snow sports have come a long way from the time when I was a kid. When I grew up the choices basically revolved around ice skating (figure, hockey or speed) and snow skiing (downhill or cross country). Oh, and I can throw snow shoeing in there, but that usually wasn't considered to be recreational. Skis were long and heavy, made of solid wood with metal edges, and they featured cable bindings - no snap in/snap out bindings yet. Ice skates were pretty much the same, at least they were still a short boot attached to one of three blades - the long blade of speed skating, the smooth toed shorter blade for hockey and the toothed blade for figure skating. 

I own hockey and figure skates and DH owns hockey skates. Were
you aware that skate blades are ground so that the edges are longer
than the interior core of the metal? It's very precise and allows
for more or less grip on the ice. 

I grew up in the Colorado mountains, so of course I wanted to try snow sports. My parents were NOT sport oriented - they didn't participate in or watch sports. In fact, it's a bit of a miracle that I grew up enjoying sports as much as I do. Nonetheless, they supported me when I wanted to participate in snow sports - paying for figure skating equipment and lessons and allowing me to borrow old skis from my godmother's family to learn skiing in Aspen/Snowmass when I went up in the winter to visit my godmother and my cousins who lived there year-round. 

Aspen and Snowmass were coming into their own
in the 1960's ad early 1970's. I learned to ski on
Aspen's slopes and I can't ask for much better
than that. I learned OK, but never really took to
the sport. My bad. 

Skis were long, in the days of my youth, and my skis probably weren't the best length for my height, and certainly weren't the best weight for me to learn with. Still, I managed to get up and down the mountain on the "bunny" slopes, and took the chairlift up to ski down the beginner's slopes. But I never felt comfortable with skiing. I wanted a shorter set of skis - something that didn't come into common useage for a few more years. Although I did ski throughout my college years, I never truly enjoyed it because I never felt very confident on the slopes. When I badly twisted my knee on a college outing to a nearby slope, I tossed the skis into the trash and called it quits. 

I stopped skiing after my knee incident, and a decade later,
moved to the Frozen Northlands. They have skiing
up here - on hills. No mountains around here. I laugh
when people downhill ski up here - there's no height, so
how can they downhill? I can understand cross-country
skiing up here, but I don't see how people can downhill
 without a good vertical drop. 

I look at today's snowboarders and wonder if I wouldn't have embraced either shorter skis and/or snowboarding in my youth if they had been an option. I've always lived where there is snow, and it's silly to not embrace it. I still ice skate on occasion, and in the Frozen Northlands, during our winters, we have outdoor neighborhood skating rinks everywhere. If I wanted to (and if there wasn't an informal pick-up hockey game going on) I could skate outdoors every day during the deep winter. But I'm old now, and have brittle bones. 

Although most organized ice hockey takes place on indoor rinks in our
many ice skating arenas, during deep winter there are smaller outdoor
rinks available 24/7 for anyone to use. Some of them don't get used often,
others are always busy. Outdoor rinks are also used on many of our
frozen lakes for hockey tournaments, etc. Embrace the cold and it's
not too bad (but also dress appropriately). 

So I watch the younger people skate, on ice and on in-line skates during the non-snow months, and I envy them in many ways. I used to love going fast on blades or wheels. It's not as much fun to just watch from the sidelines. Watching the best in the world, though - that's fun! I adore the Olympics, and I'm really having a great time watching the current Winter Games. 

Well, off to the pool to do something I still can do - swim my daily mile. Happy times for me. Have a great Tuesday and I'll return tomorrow. 

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