Among the words of the following story lives the essence of the no pole movement.
Disclaimer: I love alpine skiing and many, many people who are exclusively alpine skiers. -be
I am here with my self, thinking of the new face of alpine skiing, and this foreboding image begins to crystallize in my mind, as unsolicited as the Ghost Busters' Stay Puft Marshmallow Man. The image is that of a metallic blue Dodge Neon with racing stripes, and it will not stop driving through my head. The driver looks like the old Vanilla Ice (as opposed to New Vanilla Dread-Ice�). Though he seems near, his gaze is a galaxy away.
That's when, click, I figure him, and realize that he is the cleverly disguised leader of an alien band that lives among us. He thinks he has me fooled with his Alien Ice getup, but no, I read his thoughts like letters on a chalkboard. He thinks nobody would ever suspect an alien of listening to the awful Miami Bass that booms from his trunk. Miami Bass is their hypnotic ploy, and it appears to be working on everyone but me. I see all aliens.
"Hands that caress the snow connect the soul to the mountain. That, plus mobility, is the tele freeride..."
When this one realizes he's been had, he snaps his head forward and attempting to move it to the incessant bassline, misses each beat altogether. Aliens, I have learned, have no rhythm.
On the front of his Dodge spaceship, a windshield-sized sticker indicates that this alien is from a planet called Rockford-Fosgate. The sonic hip-hop pulse feels like a gravity mutator warping me into his trunk. I find myself not wanting to go, especially if he is serious about the Neon's racing stripes.
I'm no charlatan; I've done my research on aliens. In summertime, they ride full-suspension mountain bikes uphill. Come winter they lock down on alpine skis, often stiff and powerful. I had my first encounter-a giveaway, really--while skiing at Alta. I knew he was alien when he hiked up and over to a long, untracked powder shot then skied straight down the entire thing without a turn. I couldn't believe it, my first alien. Soon everybody around knew it was an alien because I was pointing and shouting, "Alien! Look everybody, it's an alien!" I think nobody saw him because he was going too fast, so I yelled, "Turn, alien, turn!" I was slithering around in my tele boots, trying to show him a turn, trying to get across how much fun it was. He did not get the snakeman hint.
As he went past me, he leaned on his fat tails but wore no expression. He held his arms out to indicate how, as a hyper-intelligent being, he had calculated each micron of turn pleasure sacrificed, then factored that in with each nanosecond of gravitational bliss given up for his pure speed run. Then and there I understood that he never would have done that straightline if he had those same skis mounted freeheel. Turning is too much fun.
You see how I did not shout, "Extreme hotrod, man!" No. Rather, I was thinking I got to get the hell away from Utah because it's so full of aliens. Right there I decided to flee to the North and re-associate myself with another society of fellow demure-but-sociopathic-halfbreed-refugee-freaks. The farther north, the less aliens.
The skiing alien left tracks that looked like racing stripes, so on the next run I went out and carved them into four symmetrical dollar signs stacked together. My handdrags followed the deep arcs as instructed by my kind senpai, Mr. Narajowski. He showed me (through example not pride) how to ski the Path of the Mountain with no poles. To begin with, it is ideal for learning balance and arm positioning. Then, though the technique is harder and more dangerous, it becomes fun to grab treetrunks on steep turns. Thank you tree.
In super-hype-new-school-tech-talk, we should emphasize that the tele freeride movement is closely linked to certain consumers' ideals of technological optimization. The new tele boots are so tall and stiff that you can stand up taller to lay down with full carving power and control. Mounted on 200-centimeter fatboards, turn radii lengthen from 6 to 200 feet-directly proportionate to pleasure. Comfort at incredible speed translates into comfort in the air, and there's nothing better than flying with unladen wings. Skiing becomes a double-frontside speed-carve, and when your hips and armpits graze the ground, the cohesive sensation is incommunicable but by smile.
At Alta, staunch bands muttered, "Wannabe snowboarders," and "Get some poles." For some, good fun affronts. Obviously, these people have not skied run one with me, Narajowski, Scanlan, or Pehan. Minds change.
I concede that space creatures will never adapt, but if you are a human animal, better balance is within your reach. Even if you have not dabbled in alternate tele methods like no poling on skinny skis or the Staff, even if you have never telemarked, I endear you to ride those sensuous new Alaska boards with a stiff-boot freeheel setup. With hints of athleticism and balance, powdery practice will transform you into a flowing sensation of lightness, mobility, and grace. Unlike with aliens, seeing is not believing. Feeling is.
PS Today, the Dodge Neon pops in and out of my daydreams, my attention always distracted by the anachronistic racing stripes. It is no Shelby Cobra. Around 90% of the grad students at NYU's Cultural J-school would say that nothing is worse than the ubiquity of racing stripes in young men's fashions. You have your Old Navy Board Short, singular, with blue-black racing stripes. Paradoxically, Targets shut down Mom & Pop stores then supports communities, forever rapt by the hawk of jeans with racing stripes. No mention here of ski jackets, hats, and sweaters, but am I the only one rolled up into a rape-ball in the corner, whimpering, "Please, no more Racing Stripes, please...?"
Those of us who remain or become aware see how the nu-skool style brought down upon us by these morphic aliens has firmly gripped the youth of our communities. Parents, teachers, and friends, it must be stopped if we are to ride on in relative peace. Free the heels and drop each pole so that we may join hands in the powerful, telepathic willing that some call prayer. In the interest of our own grandkids, we shall overcome.
Especially in Utah, it would be wise not to rock the proverbial alien boat. Treat these aliens as the intracosmic brethren they are-pretend they're just like you. Whatever you do though, don't ski like them. For evolution's sake, let us teach one crucial concept-The Turn. The Turn reflects the path of righteousness. It offers pure mellifluity and peace, especially when engaged upon with stiff boots, free heels, wide skis and no poles. Hands that caress the snow connect the soul to the mountain. That, plus mobility, is the tele freeride.
Be kind to the aliens, and they will be kind to us.
Respectful of all freaks,