Warren Miller 

Timing is everything

A lot of people are getting the winter blahs, also known as spring fever. Spring does not necessarily mean the end of skiing, but this is the time of year that skiers begin to take skiing for granted.

Most people associate spring with warm beaches. There is a time for everything and to me, spring is a time to keep skiing and enjoy the corn snow. For those of you who are getting down on skiing this time of year, maybe I can help put things in perspective.

Timing is everything. Many things in skiing and life are the result of being in the right place at the right time or, perhaps, knowing that wherever you are at any given time is the right place.

If Averill Harriman, the president of the Union Pacific Railroad, had not learned how to ski in St. Anton in the early 1930s, he might never have invented Sun Valley, Idaho and built the first chair lift in the world in 1936.

If Everett Kircher had been allowed to join the Lake Otsego Ski Club in Michigan, he might never have bought Boyne Mountain for $500 and created one of the largest ski resort companies in America.

If I hadn’t stopped for a long lunch at the top of Baldy in Sun Valley, Idaho many years ago, I might never have met my wife, Laurie.

If Jake Burton hadn’t tied a rope to the front end of a piece of plywood and pretended that he was surfing in the snow, the snowboard might never have been invented. (Then we wouldn’t have expanded our language to include such words as Cowabanga, backside, and dude, and stuff like that would never have been, like, part of, like, the winter sports vocabulary.)

If they hadn’t built a roundabout in Vail, then skiers would be stuck in the half-hour traffic jam every morning and miss the untracked powder. If Vail had not occasionally offered free parking instead of charging $8 a day, a lot of people who are skiing there now would be skiing where they could park their car for free.

If I were 50 years younger, I would still be living in my trailer in the parking lot at Sun Valley and spending 18 cents a day to ski every day, all winter long. If I hadn’t lived in the parking lot, I might never have been motivated to pick up a camera and begin a 50-year career of ski filmmaking.

If Tim Blixseth hadn’t decided to build a private ski resort as far north as the Yellowstone Club in Montana, we too might be skiing on rocks and rainy rivulets instead of nice light powder snow. If he hadn’t built the resort, then I wouldn’t have my job as the director of skiing.

If El Nino hadn’t kept the southeastern Pacific Ocean warmer than it should have been last summer, then La Nina wouldn’t have kept the northern Pacific Ocean as warm as it has been this winter.

If it hadn’t snowed seven feet at Mt. Baldy near Los Angeles two weeks ago, then they wouldn’t have had to close the road to the lifts and 102 members of the Penguin Ski club from Laguna Beach might not have spent their lift ticket money on booze. Joe Six Pack, the club president, didn’t realize that one drink at 7,000 feet above sea level is the equivalent of two at sea level. He was sent down to San Bernardino with a mask over his face riding in the A Car. The A Car is what an ambulance is called in that part of the world. (This might be considered wrong place, wrong time or right place, wrong time.)

We should count our blessings because the cold winter weather is almost behind us and the best skiing is yet to come. There are still over 60 days of good snow, sunshine, and great ski runs ahead of us in this the second winter of the new millennium.

It doesn’t matter where you buy your lift tickets. Just don’t quit skiing yet to go to the beach because the beach is likely to be cold and foggy, but there is a good chance that the corn snow will deliver.

For more stories, check out our Web site at www.warrenmiller.net


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