Hate to Say I Told You So…

Well, as if I hadn’t already mentioned…

The general public loves to make a spectacle of skiing.

I’m sure your grandma has already sent you the link of that ‘crazy skier’ she saw on Good Morning America that made her think of you!!

Excuse me while I get an ice pack for my overly aggressive self-inflicted face-palm.

I am sincerely sick of the public’s interpretation of freeskiing. I am fearful of how their un-informed psyche twists and turns the reality of what we love into the dangerous pastime of the crazy. To me, not loving skiing is crazy. Not loving to spend your time outdoors with the wind in your face and a slickness under your feet is absolutely asinine. But you don’t hear me muttering that to every fur-coat clad person I meet in a mountain town…

How do we get modern society to understand us? I keep pondering if this is even worth our while (see my last few pieces..) but part of me is filled with such defiance that refuses to stay silent. I feel like I have some sort of unspoken duty to my ski family, to protect and defend the image of the skier against the one the public has assigned to us.

But, then again, I’m probably just wasting breath that I could be trying to catch after a fast and furious hot-lap.

Cody Townsend’s line from Days of My Youth is WITHOUT A DOUBT, a sight to be seen.

At least.

I know I have had it on repeat. Even as a skier, I sit there and marvel in awe. Because I am a skier, I feel like I have the context to (somewhat) understand the complexity of what he was dropping into. Yet, so does the rest of America.

Cody’s line has been viewed 4 million times (and counting.) As it should be. Mr. Townsend shouldn’t have to pay for a drink for quite some time–because it was that good. The thing is, though, the majority of the people who have seen this video think Cody is just another knucklehead on skis. They thought that about Plake. They thought that about Tanner. Hell, some of them even thought that about Cody’s wife, Elyse Saugstad, after she (very thankfully,) was able to walk away from an avalanche in 2012, and was featured on the same morning show soon thereafter.

They just don’t get it.

I become so up in arms at those who take freeskiing for face value. It is somewhat of an injustice to splice Cody’s edit into the ranks of SportsCenter’s Top 10. The majority of the athletes shown on this segment are featured in sports that have them competing against other athletes. In basketball, for example, there are only so many ways that you can push the human body. But for Cody, he’s fighting against two factors; the inner-dialogue of his brain as well as the unpredictability of mother nature. Which, as we unfortunately know, is one hell of a beast to reckon with.

Except that’s all that people on the outside see: the moments they deem crazy. While we think they are ridiculous for complaining at every inch of white stuff that blankets their town, they think we’re off our rockers for jumping in our cars and hauling out to the hill. They use the words daring, stupid, drastic and dumb interchangeably. There is no understanding of the scouting of lines, avy courses or days spent in the gym. The way they see it, skiers treat every day on the hill like a 15 year old with a learner’s permit treats his first weeks on the road–with an overarching sense of invincibility, muddled with a heavy dose of recklessness.

Am I just exhausting myself with these regular bouts of anger? Because it feels that way. It feels like the general public is always going to just call freeskiing a crazy man’s game. And so what?

I suppose you have to have a slight hint of crazy in your bones to love hurdling between the trees, through the air or over ice. It’s a vivacious sort of disposition to be in. They think we aren’t careful with our lives, while we know that we have the utmost zest for them.

So between your time this weekend, spent clicked-in, finishing finals or holiday shopping, you are bound to be confronted with Cody’s line from an unknowing source. Whether it’s via the morning news with your parents or the stream of a feed, use this moment to make your audience all the wiser. Explain that Cody didn’t just wake up and say HEY! I HAVE A GREAT IDEA! Explain how Cody’s been a skier for years and while this line was amazing, he’s been doing amazing things up until now as well. Don’t let those around you write off his talent and label it stupid or crazy or careless. Don’t let the skills of your idols and your sport be undermined.

I greatly appreciate that Cody’s line has been able to break-out and be viewed by so many people, but let’s use it as a catalyst. Your 14 year-old-cousin’s tweet about how it was “like totalli awsum OMG, smh!!” is not where the story ends, but where it begins.

But, still, don’t be surprised if she asks you why you’re skiing backwards while you’re on Christmas vacation.

[Hate to say I told you so.]


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