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Warren Miller

Warren Miller's World

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You can?t judge a skier by the gear

There are a lot of people who can?t afford the entry fee to the sport of skiing. I met someone the other day who had spent two years in the U.S. Army in Germany where he learned to ski. His introduction to the sport was on the steep ski runs surrounding Europe?s best resorts; however, he has spent the 15 years since then carving out a career as a journalist. During that hiatus, he kept his ski equipment stashed in his parents? garage.

We talked at great length about his first day of skiing in 15 years on 15-year-old equipment at a major destination resort.

With his heart pounding in anticipation after such a long layoff, he drove to what should become his favourite ski resort. Favourite, because he is working as the sports editor for a small newspaper in the heart of ski country.

This would be his first day of skiing in America, so he didn?t really know how the whole system worked. What follows is an account of how that first ski day turned out for him.

He drove into the parking lot at what he assumed would be a reasonable hour, but still ended up parking a 15-minute bus ride away from the chairlift. A teenager in a bright yellow day-glow vest made him park so close to the car next to him, that he had to climb out through the back of his station wagon.

He slid into his very high, stiff, black Lange boots and then grabbed his red-white-and-blue K2 Hot Dogs, wrapped the leather Arlberg straps around them and staggered toward the bus stop. Fifteen years ago, he was a fashion plate in his blue denim look, stretch western White Stag bell-bottom ski pants and his Sportcaster parka with the big zipper that kept him fairly warm.

With his 7-foot-3-inch skis, he really stood out from the crowd. By the time the bus came, he was the object of almost everyone?s gaze and the ridicule of others. He felt as though he had a bad case of the flu because no one would even sit with him during the long, cold ride.

As he stood in line to buy his lift ticket, he kept a tight hold of his skis, even though they were a foot longer than anyone else?s. He had learned a long time ago in Europe not to let expensive ski equipment lay around where someone else would steal it.

When he finally got to the head of the ticket line, he discovered it was for cash only, so he had to get into another line. By then, it was bathroom time, so he took a chance and separated his skis, putting one in a ski rack and the other in the snow a hundred feet away so no one could steal them.

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