Why I LOVE to Ski and Why You Should

Category: Weekly Columns

This photo was taken by my GoPro helmet cam.
Note that the skis are in the air in the foreground, the jump landing is ahead,
and the shadow of the skier – your author- is on the right. My favorite ski shot in years!

When I was about twelve years old my parents sent me to a Winter Ski Camp at Mammoth Mountain, California. Those were the days – yeah, I’m dating myself – of wooden skis, cable bindings, and lace-up boots. I had a blast. Loved it.

My family was unable to support that love and I didn’t ski again until college. I took Winter Quarter off and went to Lake Tahoe and skied all winter, working in a restaurant at night. I skied 50 days that winter and it’s been a love affair ever since. When I began my first career in showbiz, the first television movie I produced was “Ski Lift to Death.” There are a dozen or more stories from that experience, one of which can be found in my 12 Most Unforgettable Show Biz Memories.

However, becoming a dad derailed my skiing for nearly a decade. After my divorce, when my kids were older – they never really took to skiing – I finally resolved that skiing was going to be my lifetime mistress. I now ski 30-40 days a season, mostly at Mammoth, but my wife and I do take the occasional heli-skiing trip, which is like going from a Prius to a Porsche Turbo. In fact, we’re going to the Caribou Mountains in British Columbia to heli-ski in late March. Can’t wait.

I am a skier, but I do see the value/fun of snowboarding so most of this list truly applies to either skiing or riding (a snowboard). Ask me why I prefer skiing and I’d be happy to answer, though the value and fun of either is clear in all of these reasons, so DO IT!

Fun For the Whole Family

Skiing or snowboarding vacations are the best family trips. They include lots of activity, eating, playing, and once you’re there you’re set. Kids can sled, build snowmen, ski, ride, or just enjoy a fire in the condo. Most ski resorts have great kid programs and good baby-sitting facilities. It’s a heckuvalot better than waiting in long lines at Disneyland!

No Better Way to Spend Your Christmas

Aside from the fact that Christmas Day is often quiet on most ski mountains, being in the snow and mountain air just feels like Christmas. I spent this past Christmas at Mammoth Mountain as you can see from the video below. Christmas Eve was spent at a friend’s condo with all the kids opening presents and all adults safely enjoying wine and beer without concern for driving.

 

You Can Eat and Drink ALL you Want

If you spend at least half of your day skiing or riding, you are burning off a lot of calories. Just being out in the cold burns off calories. So, unlike that last cruise you took where you came home 15 pounds heavier, your ski trip will likely cause you to lose a few at best and stay even at worst.

For the Gals: The Clothes

Next to Victoria’s Secret, is there any more fun clothing than ski clothes? I remember the good ol’ stretch pants days when the gals seemed to have their pants painted on like those Sports Illustrated painted on bathing suits. The one-piece outfits were very cool back in the day as were the day-glo colors of the seventies and eighties. Now, there’s a fun mixture of styles for those who board and those who ski.

For the Guys: The Gals

After a great day of skiing, hanging in the various lounges that populate most ski resorts means hanging with great people. For the guys, this means great gals. Need I say more?

Makes You Feel Like James Bond

For me, the opening ski sequence in The Spy Who Loved Me is the greatest movie opening of all time. Why have the Bond movies so often employed skiing for their chase scenes? Because it’s so cool. As you saw in my Christmas video in #2, even the Bond music fits skiing. That’s why I’m called, “Sallan, Bruce Sallan.”

Speed

Who doesn’t love the exhilaration of going fast? Whether it’s a car, a roller coaster, or skateboard, whatever! With skiing or snowboarding, you are right on the ground feeling and seeing every inch of the mountain, the jumps, the boxes, or the half-pipe. Tell me you don’t feel it just watching this video:

The Bumps

Once you get to a certain level of skiing, you can challenge yourself by going on the more difficult runs. The bumps on the more challenging runs are called moguls and when you learn how to ski them, you have to one degree or another mastered the sport. And, nothing feels better than smoothly turning in a steep mogul field.

The Jumps

Most ski resorts, thanks to the advent of snowboarding, now have what are called “Terrain Parks,” where they build a virtual playground for boarders and skiers. When I began skiing, we’d look for rock or ledges or just big moguls to jump off. Now, they make perfect parks, with perfectly built jumps, boxes, rails, and half-pipes. Beyond cool as this short video shows:

The Half-Pipe

The half-pipe is truly the most incredible experience at most ski resorts. It’s terrifying at first but it is truly mind-blowing. Now that they make twin-tip skis (skis with tips that go up in the front and back of the ski), both skiers and snowboarders can enjoy the half-pipe. This photo was taken in the Super-Pipe at Mammoth. The walls are over 20 feet tall, which means I was upwards of 22 feet from the flat part of the pipe.

Yours truly, above the lip, in the Super Pipe at Mammoth Mountain,
two years ago. The photographer, a professional, was lying
on the top of the pipe when he snapped this perfect photo.
Makes me look like I know what I’m doing!

Great Places to Go. Worldwide

There are magnificent places to ski on every continent, any time of the year. Once you get to the big-time, there are heli-ski trips that are beyond anything you can imagine. Below are some photos from a trip my wife and I took to The Adamants in British Columbia 3 years ago. We skied above the tree line on glaciers before dropping below into the trees. It was the experience of a lifetime.

Those are our ski tracks in the distance!

I’m on top of the world!

The pole with the red flag is a pick-up/drop-off place.
See the helicopter disappearing over the horizon after dropping our group off!

Who Wants to Save Money Anyway?

What’s the saying, “You can’t take it with you?” And, don’t we all feel the need to help our poor economy by spending money? What better way to do it than by taking up the ridiculously expensive family pastime of skiing/snowboarding? Depending on the place you choose to go, you can expect to spend upwards of $500 a day for a family of four and can easily spend upwards of $1,000 a day when you factor in ski rentals, lessons, ski tickets, let alone the great restaurants of an Aspen of Sun Valley. Heli-skiing costs around $10,000 per person per week. Look at it this way; it’s cheaper than a sailboat or plane, right?

Okay, you’re convinced right? In all seriousness, you don’t have to go broke taking up this marvelous sport. There are local resorts where you can ski for a day at very reasonable costs. Like anything, you should start small and work your way up to the fancier, more difficult places as your skill, comfort, and bank account allows. But, trust me, nothing is much more fun!

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  • David Weber

    i like snow except in cities (lived in denver for several years), should just snow in the mountains
    used to be an avid skier, but that was when it was less expensive and less crowded on the slopes; i’ll be starting from scratch next time i’m at a downhill resort

  • Segal_tucson

    yes yes yes – i am happy to see a person who sees the world like me!