When I was about twelve years old my parents sent me to a Winter Ski Camp at Mammoth Mountain, California. Those were the days – yeah, I’m dating myself – of wooden skis, cable bindings, and lace-up boots. I had a blast. Loved it.
My family was unable to support that love and I didn’t ski again until college. I took Winter Quarter off and went to Lake Tahoe and skied all winter, working in a restaurant at night. I skied 50 days that winter and it’s been a love affair ever since. When I began my first career in showbiz, the first television movie I produced was “Ski Lift to Death.” There are a dozen or more stories from that experience, one of which can be found in my 12 Most Unforgettable Show Biz Memories.
However, becoming a dad derailed my skiing for nearly a decade. After my divorce, when my kids were older – they never really took to skiing – I finally resolved that skiing was going to be my lifetime mistress. I now ski 30-40 days a season, mostly at Mammoth, but my wife and I do take the occasional heli-skiing trip, which is like going from a Prius to a Porsche Turbo. In fact, we’re going to the Caribou Mountains in British Columbia to heli-ski in late March. Can’t wait.
I am a skier, but I do see the value/fun of snowboarding so most of this list truly applies to either skiing or riding (a snowboard). Ask me why I prefer skiing and I’d be happy to answer, though the value and fun of either is clear in all of these reasons, so DO IT!
1. Fun for the whole family
Skiing or snowboarding vacations are the best family trips. They include lots of activity, eating, playing, and once you’re there you’re set. Kids can sled, build snowmen, ski, ride, or just enjoy a fire in the condo. Most ski resorts have great kid programs and good baby-sitting facilities. It’s a heckuvalot better than waiting in long lines at Disneyland!
2. No better way to spend your Christmas
Aside from the fact that Christmas Day is often quiet on most ski mountains, being in the snow and mountain air just feels like Christmas. I spent this past Christmas at Mammoth Mountain as you can see from the video below. Christmas Eve was spent at a friend’s condo with all the kids opening presents and all adults safely enjoying wine and beer without concern for driving.
3. You can eat and drink ALL you want
If you spend at least half of your day skiing or riding, you are burning off a lot of calories. Just being out in the cold burns off calories. So, unlike that last cruise you took where you came home 15 pounds heavier, your ski trip will likely cause you to lose a few at best and stay even at worst.
4. The clothes
Next to shredding the slopes is there any more fun clothing than ski clothes? I remember the good ol’ stretch pants days when the gals seemed to have their pants painted on like those Sports Illustrated painted on bathing suits. The one-piece outfits were very cool back in the day as were the day-glo colors of the seventies and eighties. Now, there’s a fun mixture of styles for who board and those who ski.
5. Meeting great people
After a great day of skiing, hanging in the various lounges that populate most ski resorts means hanging with great people. For the guys, this means great gals. For the gals this means great guys. Need I say more?
6. Makes you feel like James Bond
For me, the opening ski sequence in The Spy Who Loved Me is the greatest movie opening of all time. Why have the Bond movies so often employed skiing for their chase scenes? Because it’s so cool. As you saw in my Christmas video in #2, even the Bond music fits skiing. That’s why I’m called, “Sallan, Bruce Sallan.”
Stylin' outfit and on top of the world!
Who doesn’t love the exhilaration of going fast? Whether it’s a car, a roller coaster, or skateboard, whatever! With skiing or snowboarding, you are right on the ground feeling and seeing every inch of the mountain, the jumps, the boxes, or the half-pipe. Tell me you don’t feel it just watching this video:
8. The bumps
Once you get to a certain level of skiing, you can challenge yourself by going on the more difficult runs. The bumps on the more challenging runs are called moguls and when you learn how to ski them, you have to one degree or another mastered the sport. And, nothing feels better than smoothly turning in a steep mogul field.
9. The jumps
Most ski resorts, thanks to the advent of snowboarding, now have what are called “Terrain Parks,” where they build a virtual playground for boarders and skiers. When I began skiing, we’d look for rock or ledges or just big moguls to jump off. Now, they make perfect parks, with perfectly built jumps, boxes, rails, and half-pipes. Beyond cool as this short video shows:
10. The Half-Pipe
The half-pipe is truly the most incredible experience at most ski resorts. It’s terrifying at first but it is truly mind-blowing. Now that they make twin-tip skis (skis with tips that go up in the front and back of the ski), both skiers and snowboarders can enjoy the half-pipe. This photo was taken in the Super-Pipe at Mammoth. The walls are over 20 feet tall, which means I was upwards of 22 feet from the flat part of the pipe.
Yours truly, above the lip, in the Super Pipe at Mammoth Mountain, two years ago. The photographer, a professional, was lying on the top of the pipe when he snapped this perfect photo. Makes me look like I know what I’m doing!
11. Great places to go worldwide
There are magnificent places to ski on every continent, any time of the year. Once you get to the big-time, there are heli-ski trips that are beyond anything you can imagine. Below are some photos from a trip my wife and I took to The Adamants in British Columbia 3 years ago. We skied above the tree line on glaciers before dropping below into the trees. It was the experience of a lifetime.
Those are our ski tracks in the distance!
12. Who wants to save money anyway?
What’s the saying, “You can’t take it with you?” And, don’t we all feel the need to help our poor economy by spending money? What better way to do it than by taking up the ridiculously expensive family pastime of skiing/snowboarding? Depending on the place you choose to go, you can expect to spend upwards of $500 a day for a family of four and can easily spend upwards of $1,000 a day when you factor in ski rentals, lessons, ski tickets, let alone the great restaurants of an Aspen of Sun Valley. Heli-skiing costs around $10,000 per person per week. Look at it this way; it’s cheaper than a sailboat or plane, right?
The pole with the red flag is a pick-up/drop-off place. See the helicopter disappearing over the horizon after dropping our group off!
Okay, you’re convinced right? In all seriousness, you don’t have to go broke taking up this marvelous sport. There are local resorts where you can ski for a day at very reasonable costs. Like anything, you should start small and work your way up to the fancier, more difficult places as your skill, comfort, and bank account allows. But, trust me, nothing is much more fun!
Bruce gave up a quarter century career in showbiz to become a stay-at-home-dad. Those experiences fueled his desire to advocate on behalf of dads, the last remaining group it seemed everyone could disparage with impunity. He began writing a column, “A Dad’s Point-of-View” which is now carried in over 100 newspapers and web sites. Bruce’s first book, A Dad’s Point-of-View: We ARE Half the Equation is available at Amazon, iTunes, BN.com, and the store at BruceSallan.com. “The Bruce Sallan Show - A Dad’s Point-of-View,” Bruce’s one-hour radio show, is available anytime, via live stream, or to download for free on the Radio Show Page at BruceSallan.com. Find Bruce on Facebook by joining his A Dad’s Point-of-View Page. You can also follow Bruce at Twitter. Bruce hosts a TweetChat called #DadChat each Thursday from 6:00 – 7:00 p.m., PST.
@brucesallan Bruce, fantastic post! Loved the video's! I always loved skiing at Mammoth, such great memories! thanks for bringing them back :) Skiing is one of my favorite sports, so when are you going to come out here with the family and check out Mont Tremblant?!! :)
I am not a hot dogger like you but a recreational skier that loves the sport and due to back issues hasn't skied in over 6 years. I doubt I will again -between my back and my husband, who gets altitude sickness - so, I am left with great memories of the rush of going downhill without a care in the world. Take a run for me
Love it, Bruce! Haven’t skied much in recent years but it is one of the most exhilarating things I’ve ever done (and one of the most beautiful!)! This post is tempting me though… bad ankles, knees and all… hmmmm…
It's #12 - along with bad knees and a couple shoulder surgeries - that keeps me from skiing/snowboarding. And I live in Denver, CO with a timeshare in Breckenridge!
Seriously, I do still plan on taking the time to learn how to snowboard (I'm a green/blue slope kinda guy). Perhaps I need to give you a ring to come tutor me in Breckenridge. I'll grab the timeshare, so we have the jacuzzi afterwards.
And when I call you, I'll just ask for "Sallan, Bruce Sallan"!
I first went skiing in about 1962, at Big Bear, north of Los Angeles, for a day offered by the YMCA. Then I began going on ski trips during Christmas, Washington's Birthday (this was before his birthday and Lincoln's were conflated as Presidents' Day) and Easter Breaks in elem. school. These were sponsored by the school p.e. teacher.
I laid off skiing for a few years and returned to it my last couple of years of high school. Then I began going with on typical 12-high-school-guys-renting-a-condo trips to Mammoth Mountain. In college I continued skiing until about my fourth year of school, when I dropped out to travel overseas.
When I did go skiing in college, however, I almost always went somewhere interesting--Jackson Hole, Steamboat, Heavenly Valley...never the same place twice! In those days, it WAS relatively inexpensive, esp. if you were willing to live in squalid lodgings (e.g., dorms, ratholes-cum-hostels, etc.).
But since the mid-'70s, I haven't downhill skied. Starting in 1980, and proceeding through '90s, I took up wilderness sports such as rock-climbing and mountaineering. I enjoyed that more than skiing.