Not too long ago, while cruising teamusa.org I came upon Karen Price’s interesting piece about Alex Deibold’s “post-competitive season comedown” and it hit close to home.
While I’m clearly nowhere close to being an athlete of any shape or form, the concept of “Transitioning back to real life” after the end of a ski season was never an easy one for me. The crushing, almost debilitating letdown following five months of anticipation, preparation, execution, exhilaration and yes, even routine affected me profoundly (it still kind of does)… some of us are more susceptible than others to this phenomenon… and allow me to stand up and be counted as one of those who suffer from ski-season withdrawal.
As a recovering ski bum who spent many, many winters working full-time as a coach, instructor, patroller and and event manager for major on-snow events, the switch to summer after a full ski season was never accomplished without some considerable amount of angst.
While later-on in life I managed to turn my on-snow passion into a semi-successful career as a purveyor of superlative ski gear to discerning customers, the “end-of-season blues” have always been omnipresent as spring chugged along towards summer. It’s a struggle with which I have coped (at this time of year) for most of my life. While most sensible humans are filled with joy and anticipation as temps rise and the scenery grows green, people like me are also slightly bummed at the fact that it’s over…
During those misspent years as a young full-time ski instructor (after the passing of my parents), the end of a ski season also meant the annual loss of my adopted family as every spring my entire tribe would scatter to the wind… Not only was the white stuff gone, so too were the brothers and sisters that had kept me company during the winter months. Gone also were the customers that provided me with a sense of impetus throughout my winter. I’ve often said (to anyone who’d listen) that throughout my life, through thick and thin, through tragedy and accomplishment, the one constant has always been skiing. This incredible sport has not only provided me with incredible experiences and memories that many would kill for, it’s also given me purpose, provided me with joyful experiences AND a wonderful career.
Skiing has introduced me to the world, it’s given me friends, an industry that I adore and a community that I belong to… Dare I say it’s given me a family. I guess that one could say (without too much exaggeration) that everything I hold dear I owe to snow… and likely, because of that fact, for as long as I can remember, I’ve had a problem letting go of each and every ski season. Every annual thaw signals the scattering of buddies, the melting of my playground, the putting away of my beloved skis and the dreaded arrival of warm weather.
When in April I see folks announce on Facebook, on Instagram (and by Fax) their last day on skis -when there’s perfectly good skiing to be had at Sunshine Village, Jay Peak, Mammoth, Mont Sainte Anne and Killington- I wonder what’s wrong with them… Could it be that they have a balanced life with a healthy relationship with a sport that is more of a pastime than a dependency? When I hear of ski resorts shutting down with plenty of snow left (yes, I’m talking about you Bromont, Stowe and the majority of Western ski areas), could it be that it’s no longer economically viable because most of their customers have well-adjusted lives that do not revolve around a sick addiction to skiing or snowboarding? Of course not. They are most likely doing it to punish us fanatics who depend on the white stuff to give us purpose, focus, and gnar to shred. Which is why I have much respect for resorts like Sommet Saint-Sauveur, Wildcat, Jay Peak, Mont Sutton and Killington in the East and Whistler, Snowbird, Arapahoe Basin, Mammoth, Timberline Lodge, Squaw Valley, Winter Park and Breckenridge in the West… Resorts that provide respite from the inevitable, resorts that try as best they can to stay open despite overwhelming odds both financial and meteorological. These folks deserve our support and I, for one, salute them. This is the time of the year where folks like me deal with the withdrawal. We start counting down the days until our local resort starts up again (149 days). If you’ve got the blues, you’re not alone, the let-down is real, the sense of loss is real… at least until Killington and Sommet Saint-Sauveur start blowing snow again.
Now, where’s my bike?