Skiing, glorious skiing: Tahoe Dad
Skiing was one of the things that brought Wifey and me across the country to the Tahoe basin over 13 years ago. But with our construction project going on, I wasn’t too psyched on breaking away from finishing our home to make turns with the family.
In fact, if I’m going to be honest, skiing has lost its luster. Maybe it was the ACL rupturing, show-off-stunt that I pulled 3 seasons ago, that basically forced me to ski with less of the reckless abandon of my youth. Maybe it was the 5-ring circus reality of skiing with two kids who needed help with gloves and cried when they were cold. Maybe I was finally fed up with the crowded slopes and long lift lines. Maybe I was just over it.
“Come on,” Wifey said. “We all need this.”
“We did unearth all the ski gear.” I shrug my shoulders. “Do you think it still fits?”
“It should, the kids tried everything out and they are super excited.”
So, after a morning of tiling and grouting, we cleared some construction debris out of my truck bed, loaded up the skis and headed for the slopes.
It was pure magic.
Right off the lift and into trees. We took turns blazing a powdery trail and they did it. They really did it.
Holy crap, my kids can ski.
I’ve always scoffed at older generations that talk of living vicariously through their children’s exploits and prided myself on being able to rock climb, mountain bike and rip up the slopes, but now I wasn’t the one doing the ripping. My kids at 7 and 8 years old were expertly carving through bumps, leaning into steep turns, and driving their weight into soft snow.
It was inexplicable.
“Wow. You guys can ski.”
“Duhhh, Dad.” Michael said.
“We’ve been skiing every year.” Jane rolled her eyes at me.
“No I mean, you’re good. You’re legitimately good.”
“Oh… OK.” Michael shrugged his shoulders and then pointed his sticks downhill, looking for another jump.
We stopped for overpriced hot cocoa and so the kids could jam handfuls of peppermints into their ski coats. I didn’t have to pick up any gear from tables or even help with putting skis and poles on the ski rack. They just did it all themselves.
“Who are these kids?” I asked Wifey.
“They’ve got it this year, don’t they?” she laughed.
It didn’t stop there. We even got hoots and hollers from riders on the chair as the 4 of us plowed through a bump run.
As a kid, I used to relish this sort of anonymous chairlift attention. One family story we tell is of a trip to Steamboat Springs when I was about 12 and my younger brothers were 10 and 8. I lead my brothers and father down a particularly large bump run right under one of the main chairs. My brothers and I made it down to a cat track and looked up to see my Dad end up in a particularly explosive and fairly graceful yard sale in the middle of the run: parts, pieces, and equipment went everywhere.
“Come on, Dad. You’re OK.” I shouted.
“Get up. You can do it,” said my brothers.
As my father started to pull himself and his gear back together, the chairlift took note of the three little boys at the bottom of the run yelling encouragement up to their father, still buried deep in the bumps.
And that was all it took.
“Yeah, Dad. You got this,” One rider offered.
“Come on, Old Man,” said another. “Catch up with your kids.”
“Go, Dad. Go.”
From that point until my father managed to make his way cautiously down to the cat track where his children awaited him, the chairlift heckling intensified, culminating in a jeering round of applause as he pulled up beside us.
Skiing is so much more than nabbing that secret powder stash or executing a flawless series of turns. It’s a fellowship of snow. A communion of glory, gnar, and fantastic failure. All to be rollicked in and shared with friends and family.
And now I realize, it’s a rite of passage for children moving from green-groomed to double-bad ass. And their parents’ rite of passage in helping them get there.
“Yup, it’s official,” Wifey said as we rolled into the chair lift.
“What’s that?” I asked.
“I can no longer ski faster than my son.”
G.W. Miller is a full-time resident of South Lake Tahoe and author of “The Elixir of Yosemite.” Available locally and on Amazon. To learn more or respond to columns come visit www.mcbehm.com or email email@example.com.