We’re having the most fun. We, as in us skiers, snowboarders, mountain bikers and kayakers. We are the ones out in the mountains, sans crowd and audience, save for our friends and perhaps a chance passerby. When we’re at home, there are no grandstands, no announcers nor beer…well, sometimes there’s beer.
For the most part, however, our houses of worship–our Fenways, Lambeaus, and Coliseums–fly under the radar. They are there one minute and gone the next, with strangers innocuously passing by none-the-wiser.
Within the ubiquity of our stomping grounds lies the magic of our chosen sports. Like a pop-up storefront, these micro-stadiums only exist for fleeting moments, and are only truly enjoyed by those that are present in the moment. Whether it’s a new urban feature, a backcountry line with perfect light and snow, or a standing wave at just the right flow–the synergy of people and conditions provide an experience that the majority of people will never know. No matter how descriptive the words, how perfectly exposed the shot or how well produced the film, no form of media can replicate actually being there, with your friends, in that moment.
Unlike most mainstream sports, our spectators are consistent, virtually across the board, from the lowliest amateur to the coverboy: we perform for our friends and ourselves. From the harriest spine walls in Alaska to a sketchy town-hill park jump; our spots feel at capacity with a half-dozen people. What’s more, is that this creates an emotional consistency across the proficiency spectrum unparalleled in most other sports.
Photo: Drew Stoecklein / Brooks Range, AK with author Griffin Post, Lars Chickering Ayers and Todd Ligare
On Sunday afternoon, is Peyton Manning having more fun throwing a touchdown than someone playing a pickup game in the park? Probably. Us though? That professional rider shredding a 3,000’ Alaska ramp is experiencing the same emotion and thrill as a grom landing his or her first three in the park. That hoot, holler and high five given at the bottom of an Alaskan face is the same, remarkable expression repeated all season, everywhere people slide on snow.
We grow as skiers, we go to new places and revisit old ones, but no matter who or where we are, our homes never really change. We’re all with our self-selected group of friends, unified by common passion, in search of that high five that means the same thing to everyone. We need no further reassurance, other than that symbolic gesture. Wherever we’re calling home that day, we’re having the most fun.