Column, Living the Dream

Moguls illustrate how experiences are shaped collectively

By Merisa Sherman

I cannot pull away. I want to ride Cascade over and over and over again. Ok, alternating with Downdraft. They have been so playful. I could actually feel my heart smiling. So smooth and buttery and beautiful, with a touch of graininess to it. But not that chunky graininess that trips you up, but that beautiful soft graininess that means the snow is solid enough. It’s not melting underneath your skis as you go by. It’s strong enough to handle the friction, but soft enough that you can plow right through it with the right skis. If you want to.

Oh, and I so want to!

To slice that sound of spring snow in half, or maybe to launch off of it and land on the next one. I really won’t know until I get there but it’s the texture of snow where it doesn’t really matter and the bumps are far enough apart that you can do what you want, not what the snow is telling you to do. I mean, you’re strong enough to push the mound aside, but you can choose to make race turns around them or play with them. They are bags of fun littered around the trail for our enjoyment, at our leisure or not. It’s up to us what we choose to do with them.

And they are so different, every day. The location, the texture, the feeling of them— it all depends on which skiers and riders chose to ride this trail and where they chose to turn before you. It’s amazing how they get there, how they develop out of an innocence where people simply turn where and when and how they want — we just all end up turning in the same place. Little changes each run make us all begin to turn in the exact same place. Not because we choose to, but because, well, there it is.

How does that happen? Small movements repeated by others. They change how we approach our lives, whether we realize it or not. I think skiing shows us this. Clearly. Where else are we forced to exist in the ruts of strangers in such a definitive way. A beginner skier cannot even comprehend how those mounds of snow come into existence — “where do you keep the moguls in the summertime,” they ask.

We don’t have a common goal or designed purpose, but together we make a most beautiful mogul field. Like artists. Inadvertent activists?

Margaret Mead said: “A small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world: Indeed it’s the only thing that ever has.” But I would like to argue that you don’t have to be committed to change the world — or even thoughtful. Our every movement changes the world. Mogul skiing is an illustration of that effect. Small movements make big changes. What would happen if I increased my edge angle? Would I move more snow into the mound or less? How does my approach change this mogul?

Why are there mounds on Cascade but moguls on Superstar? It’s a question I’ve been thinking on for quite some time now. It bothered my dad, too. Both trails start off the morning perfectly groomed, the corduroy so deep and creamy that you bring out your powder skis. And by the end of the day, one is a haphazard mess with moguls so far apart you could set a GS course around them while the other can be a famously overwhelming field of Volkswagens and springtime greatness.

This begs the question: how can we make better moguls? What is the best mogul? It’s so neat how Superstar develops almost the exact same pattern of moguls every day, the snow melts in the exact same way, every May, every year. The Ridgeline as it comes over the lower pitch, like the spine of a stegosaurus and then melts in the big melting S. How can every season be so different, yet Superstar stays exactly the same?

Anyway, that’s what I was thinking about while tailgating this afternoon, basking in the sun while letting my feet breathe as they escape their soggy existence of my boots. It’s one of my favorite parts of the day, sitting in the parking lot, having existential discussion about how skiing is a great analogy for what, that’s what we’re trying to figure out. Sometimes we analyze technique because … science makes your skiing more awesome. Or we share any ideas on how to keep our liners dry. And sometimes we try to figure out why anyone would think Lower Ovation was a good poaching idea today.

I still haven’t answered my own question. But I do know that I am crushing hard on Cascade right now. I even love the runout because I’m loving the slow spring glide. I will miss that once we move over to Skye Peak. I will love Superstar. Just not for a few more weeks.

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