The 12-step program for snow sliders 

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Welcome, welcome, welcome. I've been remiss in welcoming Spring Break enlightenment seekers. Fortunately, it always seems to be Spring Break for someone, somewhere and if you're like the other seekers, you're here now. So welcome.

And no matter what your holiday has in store for you the most important thing to remember is this: You came to Whistler on your Spring Break to have Fun!

Sure, you may have said you came to ski or board, but you're confusing tactics with strategy. It's fun you're after and it's fun you shall have. We may not have sunshine — today — but snow? Heck yeah. Whistler is the Lake Wobegon of snow this year — above average!

And you, lucky you, you've come all the way from Onterrible or the far-flung corners of B.C. or even the USofA or some place further away and more exotic for Spring Break Fun. So let's get started. If you're a family, this'll be a grand opportunity for some Quality Family Time. Granted, it might extend to several more hours each day than you'd planned, but think of all the fun things you can do together. Better think fast; you've got lots of fun hours to fill.

And if you're young, single and, momentarily, still sober, you didn't really come to ski at all. You came to score. Without wasting your time mindlessly pursuing powder lines, think of how much greater your chances of success — not to mention your bar bill — will be!

But if you're a diehard snow slider, if your concept of a ski vacation is so narrow it doesn't include driving down to Squampton to play a round of golf or going fishing in one of our ice-free lakes, if you can't embrace renting a bike and riding some single-track instead of renting skis and snorkeling pow, fear not. I feel your pain. Your concerns are my concerns. We suffer the same debilitating addiction.

For you, the few who just can't let go of the dream, I've got the answer. No, it's not swapping in your tickets and hotel and squandering your money on a quickie heliskiing trip, tempting though that may be. It's the Skiers and Boarders Twelve-Step Program.

The first step is simple. You have to admit you are powerless over the intoxicating allure of skiing and boarding. That should be simple. You're here! If your jones for skiing didn't have complete control over your pathetic lives, you'd be down on some beach in Florida or Mexico poisoning yourselves on tequila and unfiltered ultraviolet rays. But you're not. You're here, fat skis and powder boards in tow, staring up at the mountains like a junkie searching a lonely street corner for a dealer. Admit it; you're hooked.

That was the easy step. It gets harder from here on out. Step Two: You've got to believe there's a Power greater than yourself that can restore you to sanity. Sanity, eh? I don't want to quibble with something as successful as the 12-Step method, but if you were truly insane, wouldn't that call into question any belief you might manage to conjure about a greater Power? Am I being too analytical about this?

OK, greater Power. Just accept it. The only greater Powers I know around this town all work for Ski School. Many of them have God complexes and come to think of it, many of them believe they can teach anybody to ski/board any conditions. I'm pretty sure linking up with one of them isn't going to cure you of your addiction. But what can it hurt? You might even get good enough to ski whatever you find in the vast nether reaches of Whistler Blackcomb.

Step Three: Turn your lives over to the care of God as you understand Him. Whistler, in case you don't know, is a town where, until just a few years ago, there weren't any churches, per se. Hard to believe, isn't it? Even now, many religious services are held in mixed-use buildings where, for example, you might catch the Chairlift Revue on Saturday night and pray for salvation Sunday morning.

Fact is, the only constant God who has stood the test of time in this town is Ullr, Norse god of snow. Sacrifices are made late each fall to Ullr. But like all gods, Ullr has both a sense of humour and fair play. This year he's making up for his cruel joke the last two years. Bless him.

Step Four: Make a searching and fearless moral inventory of yourself. As if! I'm afraid that would require both a considerable attention span, a moral compass and a suspension of inflated self-esteem, all of which would be flying in the face of the Organizing Pedagogical Truths around which public education has been built for the past couple of generations. Skip ahead.

Step Five: Admit to Ullr, yourself and another person the exact nature of your wrongs. Simple. You came expecting skiing/boarding nirvana. Your attention is wandering toward sybaritic fun. No need to beat yourself up; it's not something you can be blamed for.

Six: Be entirely ready for Ullr to remove all those defects of character. OK, let's cut a deal here. It'll be a whole lot easier for Ullr to just stick to making snow than it will be for him to cure all your character defects. If that sounds like a good deal to you, Ullr, you don't need to say anything... just get on with it, dude.

Step Seven: Humbly ask Ullr to remove your shortcomings. Hmmm... isn't that what the Ski School guy's for? See step six, Ullr.

Eight: Make a list of all persons you've harmed and become willing to make amends with them. Yeah, right. This is only a one-week vacation and you've got to work in a few hours of sleep. How about if you just say "Sorry" to the loser you ran into on the hill?

Nine: Make direct amends to those people. Obviously you can't do that until the list is complete. I think we're splitting hairs here.

Ten: Continue personal inventory and admit when you're wrong. Well, now that you've had a chance to think about it, maybe you shouldn't have dismissed the idea of going heli-skiing so quickly.

Eleven: Pray and meditate and improve your conscious contact with Ullr, know His will and carry that out. Hell, that's why you came skiing in the first place. Ullr's the one who has to keep his part of the bargain.

And Twelve: Having had a spiritual awakening as a result of these steps, carry this message to other ski junkies and practice these principles in all your affairs. Affairs, aschmairs; you're just here to ski and get laid. Come to think of it, that's pretty spiritual.



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