2002-03-14 / Arts & Entertainment

C’est La Vie by Don Flood

C’est La Vie by Don Flood

© 2002 King Features Synd., Inc,

40-Something Skier on

the Downward Slope

At age 44, I’m on the downward slope, as it were, when it comes to skiing.

Generally, my goal for my once-a-year ski trip is quite modest: I hope to ski better than the year before.

But this year — no doubt inspired by the Olympian dudes (and dudettes) with all their twisting, turning, somersaulting, etc. — I declared another goal: not to break any bones.

Yeah, that’s how it is when you get ready to ski down the south side of 40-something.

It was a small mountain, a baby mountain, the kind of mountain that almost anyone, even a beginner, could go out and break a few legs on.

(Maybe I watched too much of the Olympics, but remember that skier in the commercial who taunted the mountain? Talked about how this mountain he was about to ski down got pushed around by other mountains when it was in mountain school? What was that about? Should we have more extensive drug testing?)

One trail, though, was a little more challenging. It had something called "terrain" skiing, which I hadn’t heard of.

But what it really meant was that this trail had obstacles, a special "value-added" service that made falling down easier.

For my part, I’ve always been pretty well satisfied with the service I received in that regard from gravity, which has helped make it possible for me to fall everywhere from the chairlift to the cafeteria line.

But my 12-year-old son wanted to try terrain skiing, and I had said I would ski with him, and so ... yes, I’m writing this from a hospital bed.

Just kidding!

Really, I caught some "big air."

OK, I didn’t exactly catch "big air" — maybe "little air" — but I did catch some "big ground" and later some "big soreness" and a "big bruise."

(Finally, I was living large!)

Fortunately, you can ease the pain in the taproom, where you can catch "big beer" at "big prices."

Also, there’s a big window where you can watch the other skiers wipe out.

First up on the terrain trail was a big jump, though in my case it might be more accurately called a big kerplop.

I’ll admit it wasn’t graceful, and the judges seemed to agree. (It’s supposed to be shown on ESPN85 at 3 a.m. on July 12. Check it out.)

Next there was a smaller jump, which I made without wiping out!

It wasn’t exactly "big air," but there was definitely air. At least a little. I’m sure of it.

I was all ready to get on the podium and accept my medal, but apparently the judges weren’t as impressed.

Then it was time for that favorite destination of ski and snowboard dudes: the half pipe.

It looked a little forbidding, but as ski poet Dylan Thomas said,

Do not ski gentle into that good night

Even if it means wiping out in the half pipe.

(Or something like that.)

I was so successful in the half pipe that next year I’m setting a new goal: a week in Florida.

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