Summer 2003   



a breakthrough

There’s a moment in a skier’s life when you cross an invisible line and nothing is ever the same again. Like the moment you realize you are talking in a foreign language without translating your thoughts. You’re in a new space altogether.

For skiers this is the moment you really and truly make friends with your skis. Stop fighting them and start trusting them. I crossed that line years ago but I can still remember the day, the mountain, the snow, the light. Everything

Springtime in Verbier, western Switzerland, white cherry blossoms in the Vallée de Bagnes below the ski area, white cumulus clouds rubbing the tops of the peaks, the biggest mountains I’d ever imagined all around me. And an exciting season behind me. I’d spent a whole winter on skis, my first, focused 100 percent on becoming a good skier, working at it, wrestling with it, day after day, storm after storm. So much technique, so much to remember, so much to practice. I’d learned a lot, I'd worked hard. And although I loved every minute and every run, skiing — at the end of this long season — was still work.

And then on the big run below Les Ruinettes, it dawned on me, it hit me: All you have to do is start a good turn — your skis will finish it for you. Maybe I’m slow but I had never looked at it that way.

That’s the skis' job — finishing the turns you start. They do it wonderfully. I checked. I double checked. Yes, it was true. A small move, a small commitment, and the turn unrolls as if predestined. No, I wasn’t mistaken. Thank you, skis!

This was my very own, very first breakthrough on skis, and it had only taken me a whole season to get there, or to realize it, or at least to put it into words. I was so delighted that I skied up to the little slopeside chalet cafe in Clambin above the village, ordered a glass of sparkling Fendant wine, and toasted my skis: Friends. Buddies. Les copains. Accomplices. Partners in crime. Heh, heh...

 Summer 2003  
photo at top:
Verbier, in western Switzerland, a mega resort full of mega memories
photo © Linde Waidhofer
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© Lito Tejada-Flores unless otherwise credited.