Is there a "soul" to riding?

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Is there a "soul" to riding?

Postby John » Mon May 26, 2008 9:30 pm

One thing that is intriguing about riding is the emotional and "spiritual" (however one define it) reaction that people can have to riding. Look online long enough and you'll find someone denounce [fill in the name of any well-known ski area] for "selling out," for "losing the soul" of skiing through building condos, etc.

See for example the comments on this article from the Rocky Mountain News ( ... -ski-pass/) where you have complaints about "Cookie cutter resorts" that cater to the wealthy, how "Skiing isn't what it used to be. It's about making money and the corporate giant that is Vail isn't there to lose money;" and so forth. Finally, one person says "It just saddens me that something as rooted in my soul as skiing, can be so superficial to so many."

Does these arguments appeal to you, or do they sound just wacky?

I've been mulling over this topic for a while. Here are some questions, off the cuff, that relate to it:

* Is riding "in your soul," and if so, in what way?

* How can the "soulfulness" of riding be threatened by the fact that other people make money from running ski resorts?

* Given that most people will take a high-speed lift over a hike up the mountain, and that the installation, maintenance and operation of lifts (and ski patrols, etc.) takes money, isn't a conflict between "soul" and commercial ski operations inevitable?

* Don't complaints against the "commercialization" of skiing or snowboarding really reflect a desire to have one's cake and eat it too--that is, to enjoy the benefits of commercial ski operations while also dictating what a ski area should look like?

Yeah, I find it somewhat odd to walk past block after block of condos that I will most likely never own. When I was at, say, Bretton Woods this March, I could tell there was a plan afoot to sell services to the upper-crust, services at a level that I would normally not choose to purchase. (I'm more of a Hampton Inn than a Ritz-Carlton guy myself). But it didn't take away from my enjoyment of the snow.

To quote Rodney King, can't we all get along--the hard-core rider who prefers to sleep in his car, the guest who wants wall-to-wall groomers and 5-star hotel service, and everyone in-between?
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Postby bernwern » Tue May 27, 2008 11:39 am

Yeah, resorts will expand and develop. I see this analogy in full effect every year in Bozeman, MT. There are the old-skool riders/skiers at Bridger Bowl which has a way cool atmosphere. Then there is commercialized Big Sky Resort with a mall, hotel, condos, and more on it ... and lots of gapers. The resort to hit is Moonlight Basin, where it is being developed, but the people there seem more laid back ... not to mention it is not nearly as busy as Big Sky, but has the high-speed lifts that are lacking at Bridger Bowl.

Everyone will think something has "sold-out" at some point in their life. h*ll, I feel this way about alot of the music on the radio today...thank God for iPods and iPod hookups for my deck :) I think many companies have sold-out as well across multiple industries. Just stop buying their products and they will get the hint.

As for the "soul" of riding, try and get your hands on Let It Ride: the Craig Kelly documentary. Listen to his thoughts on riding. He went from being a multiple world and national champ, a chance to own his own boarding company, and more to simply giving it all up to back-country ride. He is sorely missed by many, including me.

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soul of riding

Postby Rojo » Wed Dec 03, 2008 12:48 am

I know change is inevitable but I still miss the $1.00 Beer, Brats and Burgers at the base at Crested Butte, and more informal attitude.

As for the spiritual side, I think that there are times when everything seems to come together, when you seem to be able to do no wrong. The equipment is dialed in perfectly for the environment, your body synchronized with your mind, something clicks, all of your senses sharpen at once, and the world slows down.
You don't think, you do.
You become a part of whatever you are doing and wherever you are. You seem to know what is happening and what will happen beforehand.
And then it is gone.
And for years you try to reach the same plane with limited success until one day, unannounced and unexpected you are once again a part of some greater whole.
I think this is the soul of the sport, or more accurately, the action.
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Postby wrathfuldeity » Wed Dec 03, 2008 10:22 am

For me soul equates with the qualitative sacrifice, the redemptive value and the rediscovering oneself.

Its like the difference of somebody doing it because they are driven to, must, cannot do anything else but...verses "Oh lets do it because its cool"

Its like old bluesmen on the 70's circuit, they rather do something else than be on the road going from bar to bar with out family, warm bed and good meals, but it is their lot and they make the best of it.

When I first started it was quite the challenge to get up early, get the kids going, lunches made, gear in the car, creep up the hill, falling down all day, creep down the hill...dead tired and swelling...then gear unloaded and drying out, everybody cleaned up and then dinner. But the challenging pilgrimage to the holy land became a ritual. I re-discovered myself, it has sparked a passion to keep healthy and fit; that there is more to life than working and career. Its been one of the best things for relationships with the kids and wife (though she doesn't go she likes the time by herself and has resolved that its much better activity than alot of activities that an old man could be doing with a midlife crisis).
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