Stuff I’ve Learned While Skiing

By Warren Miller

Warren MillerI have learned that there are a lot of things in life that you just can’t avoid: taxes, car payments, high lift ticket prices, someone else discovering your secret stash of powder snow, and other important things such as these.

Over many years, some other things have been burnt into my brain, even though my brain was full at the time with other important stuff, such as not reading the departure time on my airplane ticket, not believing the gas gauge when it read empty, or when someone says, “Chairlift ten at nine?”, I just know they really mean chairlift nine at ten.

After skiing all over the world since 1937 on every configuration and price point of skis, boots, poles, and uphill conveyances (including sealskin climbers), and after sleeping in every economic level of accommodations, I have come to the conclusion that there is nothing that can compare to the pure gut feeling of making a turn on a pair of skis in untracked powder snow. Well, I guess maybe a high-speed, giant slalom turn on a perfectly groomed run with the wind whistling through my brain bucket and my shaped skis on edge not leaving any skid marks might come close.

There have been winter nights when the moon was full after a day of filming and ten zillion stars were sprinkled all around the constellation Orion. There were nights when I was driving to the next ski resort location and around 3:00 a.m., when there was not another set of headlights on the highway in either direction, I would turn off my headlights and drive for miles on snow-covered highways with an emotional high that I can still recall. Of course, I haven’t been able to do that since they invented the Interstate.

Names and dates have long ago become a blur and, in some cases, just might be a figment of an overworked imagination. That’s okay because many of the people, places and incidents that I write about happened so long ago that there is no one left alive to dispute what my memory transmits to my fingers and comes out on the computer keyboard. I kept a diary of many of those early years and some of the facts and figures are too startling to expect anyone to believe these days. My English once teacher told me, “You don’t have to tell the truth 100 percent of the time, when stretching it once in a while will probably make your story that much better.”

Of course, I’m rambling. My point is that I have been skiing for a very long time. Through the long process of aging while skiing, I have learned a few things that I would like to share:

1. The family that skis together goes broke together.
2. The law of the young child clearly states, “My parents shall never enjoy a ski vacation without me until I’m old enough for them to buy me my own car.”
3. You will ski as well as your kids do for one day of your life.
4. Not taking your family to Sun Valley for Christmas vacation is equally as reprehensible as not taking them to Vail for Christmas vacation.
5. The family that travels together bitches at each other.
6. When you buy your wife an expensive ski outfit, she will wind up standing in line behind someone else’s wife, who is wearing the identical expensive ski outfit.
7. Your first chairlift ride will be just like that last night on the Titanic: you know it will end sometime, but you just don’t know when.
8. Most ski lifts go about 400 feet higher than your level of competence.
9. You should always wear your cowboy boots whenever you check into a cheap motel so you can kill the cockroaches in the corners.
10. The cheap ski lodge that you check into is guaranteed to have exciting night life, such as watching videos of the Walton Family sorting cranberries.
11. Never eat in a restaurant that has bowling trophies on the cash register.
12. The rings around the planet Saturn are primarily made up of lost airline luggage.
13. After building your vacation home at Mt Paradise, your local contractor will be able to buy a 45-foot sport-fisherman and have it delivered to Cabo San Lucas for a six-month fishing trip next winter.
14. A season parking pass is a lot more important than a season ski pass.