Skiing is by nature completely and utterly ridiculous.
To devote so much time and mental energy to something that relentlessly drains your finances and takes years off the healthy function of your joints is a monumentally selfish and irrelevant thing to do.
A sport that narrowly avoided a fate worse than rollerblading was saved in the late 1990’s by the invention of twin tips and the supposed re-injection of cool. But all that really changed was that people started going backwards and the clothes got baggier. Glen Plake, Honourable Patron Saint of the Pre-Newschool-Radness-Movement is quoted in the October 1988 issue of Powder Magazine as saying “the notion that looking fashionable on the slopes labels you a namby-pamby is a myth.” However young skiers at the turn of the millennium decided that the only way to gain respect from their new single-planked compatriots was to pretend that the headbands and stretchpants phase never happened, and all-black-everything was the only way forward.
Skiing started to take itself seriously.
Fast forward to 2015, and the level of serious is now off the charts. As we voraciously consume the epic images and slick video edits we are fed by well-oiled corporate hype-machines we slowly but surely distance ourselves from our true roots.
At a certain level skiing can be really serious stuff – life and death – but for most of us who just slide around on manicured precipitation, pay far too much for bad coffee, and try not to complain openly how much our feet hurt, the reality differs vastly. Real skiing is flat light, variable snow, delayed openings and lift lines. It’s early season jelly legs, new boots, foggy goggles and forgotten gloves. Broken snowchains, bent poles, core shots and flat batteries.
It is the very absurdity of the sport which makes it so awesome.
Opening days can be serious occasions. Everyone is keen to show off their latest expensive equipment and outerwear purchases, and how much their steeps skiing has improved since they re-mortgaged the house for that trip to Chamonix. Appearances are set and expectations for the season ahead laid out.
I firmly believe that you never get a second chance to make a first impression, and so with this philosophy at heart a crew of local Wanaka skiers took to this year’s Treble Cone opening day with the same enthusiasm as they would bring to its late September closing day. Closing days are rad. The vibes are happy, people are not in a rush, and the outfits are as silly as the lines chosen down the mountain. Skiing’s hilarious history is celebrated in every cossack, daffy, mule kick and soul-pole power slide executed whilst wearing stretch pants. With 9 months off to lament that we really should “recreate the closing day vibe more often” this season, this year the call was put out to cut the chat and open it like we closed it.
Words: Tori Beattie
Photo: Cam McDermid