LINKing Turns: One provocative, thoughtful view of skiing through a Warren Miller lens

Midwest Ski Journal likes to highlight a few pieces of skiing internet worth your time in LINKing Turns. Find the best, most important, least important and otherwise links here each week. 

This week we feature just one link, because it deserves the oxygen to be read all on its own. Nick Paumgarten’s piece about skiing through the lens of Warren Miller’s life and career is something to behold.

TURN 1: Warren Miller’s Joyful Vision and Skiing’s One Per Cent (Nick Paumgarten/The New Yorker)

I’ll start you off with the opening paragraph of this piece. Buckle up.

Skiing is indefensible, in many ways. It’s hard to think of a more indulgent variety of play. It’s expensive, exclusive, lily-white, and—once you factor in airplanes, helicopters, Chevy Tahoes, Ski-Doos, snowmaking, hot tubs, heated driveways, and immense and often vacant second or third homes—ravenous for fossil fuels. (Many seekers of deep snow seem oblivious to their role in possibly depriving themselves of it, down the line.) The skiing industry can seem, at times, to be little more than a front for real-estate development and the sale of winter gear manufactured in squalid factories overseas.

Nick Paumgarten/The New Yorker – Feb. 2018

Ouch.

I swear the rest of the piece is not that bleak, but that first paragraph really brings you down a peg or two.

When I saw this link come across my Twitter feed, I was ecstatic to see one of our great journalistic institutions take on skiing. I then saw that this piece is almost two years old, but was still excited to take it on with fresh eyes.

Then you hit that first paragraph. A gut punch.

The next paragraph lifts you back up.

The more conventional conception of the sport, though—certainly among those who do it—is that it represents adventure, freedom, and transcendence. It’s a dance with gravity, a test of prudence and pluck, a peerlessly close collaboration with the elements. To the extent that snow-clad mountains represent some ideal of purity, navigating them with planks fixed to your feet can seem, once you’re clear of the Ski-Doos and hot tubs, almost virtuous. Above all, it’s a graceful way to get around and a great excuse to get out.

Nick Paumgarten/The New Yorker – Feb. 2018

That’s it! That’s why I love skiing!

This roller coaster of a piece is exactly why it’s so brilliant. There is something contradictory or even hypocritical about skiing as a pastime, but as Paumgarten describes through a snapshot of Warren Miller’s life and times, it can be worthwhile.

The piece was written less than a month after Miller’s passing, which rocked the ski world. Miller meant a lot to me personally and served as daydream fuel for those of us stuck in the flatlands.

I won’t go paragraph-by-paragraph for the whole story, so as to let you enjoy it yourself. I just ask that you take the time to read it.

I bet you Paumgarten will have you hearing Miller’s voice by the end.

Miller died Jan. 24, 2018. I can’t believe it’s almost been two years. Thanks for making skiing fun, Warren.

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