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October 31, 2007

Reading for the Preseason - Instant Karma: The Heart and Soul of a Ski Bum

Got a copy of Wayne Sheldrake's book in the mail the other day as now more and more PR folks are using the power of bloggers to spread the word about their products and bloggers like me are using the power of our blogs to get free stuff.

The book is a little dark, especially in the beginning. I guess I never really thought about why folks become ski bums. Usually they are running from something. Maybe it is an ex and a bad breakup or maybe it is a bad childhood or other problems. I think the details sometimes are hard to listen to from people that you think are just free spirirs. Then I think about my uncle Lynnie. I still remember him with a can of Animal Beer in his hands, and usually a dozen in his stomach teaching his nephews to fish and hunt and camp and cuss. He always had a van of some sort and you never knew he was coming until he would show up. Just to stop in and stay a day or as long as your driveway had room for a van. Then just as quick, he would say goodbye and be gone again. He died a week before my son Jake was born. Barely 40. He loved the mountains. You never ask these people what makes them tick because they will have 20 stories for you and never really answer your question. But you will enjoy the 20 stories and forget you asked one.

I wondered about the title--Instant Karma. As I read the book, all of the places seemed so familiar. Wolf Creek. Treasure. Alberta. Even the parking lots at Wolf Creek. The name of the book comes from a story about poaching runs without a lift ticket and the consequences of losing most of a ski season because of a wreck that day. I remember skiing Wolf Creek with Jake (Big, not Little) and Erich and taking lap after lap on Alberta with a couple guys from Summit who were there because an epic blower had skipped the north but dumped on Wolf Creek. The guy was telling me that he was skiing on yesterday's ticket, but as long as you get past the main lift first thing in the morning and get to one of the side lifts (like Alberta), there is usually only one lift operator working it and they never check tickets. Wolf Creek simply stamps the date on the front of their lift ticket or a special word jumble for the day and most times they never check. About midway through the day after cutting fresh line after line through the glades, ski patrol is waiting at the top for him. I was riding the lift with him when it happened. Not a complaint. Just, dude, can we cut through the glades on the way down. It was the last run of his day. But he wanted to make the most of it.

While lots of folks debate the existence of "God" with a Capital G, I always acknowledge and pay tribute to both the snow gods and the football gods. I don't believe that I can change the universe with simple actions. I cannot influence storms to change track. I cannot convince the gods of physics to have that long pass land six inches beyond a receiver's hands. But I never leave that to chance.

We are all so lucky to enjoy skiing. To enjoy life. I enjoyed the book and it brought out a lot of memories, not just of skiing, but of the faces and people that I have met along the way.

Posted by Justin at October 31, 2007 04:14 PM