Skiers vs. Snowboarders

These two groups of winter enthusiasts will never get along.

Searching for a good analogy, the McCoys and the Hatfields come to mind.  However, this feud was a partisan affair that was confined to a relatively small geographical territory (the West Virginia/Kentucky backcountry) for a limited period of time (13 years, between 1878 and 1891).

Skiers and boarders have skirmishes seven days a week, on thousands of  mountains around the world during every day that skiing/sliding is available.  When you consider that South America offers snow sports during the Northern Hemisphere’s summer months, I believe that I can safely state that snowboarders battle it out with skiers every day of the year somewhere on Earth.

If we are searching for a better comparison, it’s the Shiites and the Sunnis.  These two sects of Islam are similar to skiers and snowboarders in that each group of adepts worship a common god (Muslims = Allah; Skiers/Boarders = snow) and in that each group is fighting over the same patch of geographical territory.

Another apt correlation is neanderthal and the more evolved homo erectus.  You make the call:





Homo erectus.

You get the idea.

Anyhow, Monday night was a weird ski night.

I stopped for a sandwich on the way to the mountain at a shop that is part of chain with which my son, SD, is very familiar.  The guy making my turkey on wheat was a nice kid.  You could tell that he really tried to connect with his customers.

“Are you going skiing tonight?” he asked me politely.

When I told him I was, he proudly declared that he was a snowboarder.

“Oh,” I replied, really not sure where to go from there.  Among the many things my father taught me was if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.

“But,” he qualified, “I really like skiers.”

Which winter sport do you think he engaged in?

“That’s good,” I said.  “Can’t we all just get along?”

It was clear that he was too young to catch the Rodney King reference.  I don’t think he would have known the difference between Rodney King, B.B. King and Alan King.

“I KNOW,” he replied emphatically.  “I’m not one of those boarders.  I like skiers.”

“What do you mean?” I inquired.  I was intrigued.

“You know, those snowboard dudes who hunt skiers.”

“A-HA!” I shouted.  “I KNEW IT!”

“Yeah,” he stated, clearly happy to serve as ambassador between the two warring clans.  “Those guys slide right into you skiers, just to freak you out.”

I took a deep breath.

“Why do you people do that?” I calmly asked.

“Not me, Dude,” he replied defensively.  “I’m a carver.”

He was proud of this fact.  As if I had any fucking idea what he was talking about.  Were there subspecies in their order?

“Those guys do that just ’cause they think they’re B.A.”

For all of you non-hip types, B.A. means “bad ass.”

It’s not that I’m particularly down.  I just happen to currently own two teenagers.

I paid for my meal, and I wished this kid a good slide…or whatever.

As I left Subway, I was completely gobsmacked by this piece of insider info.

I had always suspected that snowboarders were out to get us skiers on the hill.  Now I had proof.  An informer. A snitch.  A stoolie.

As I drove along munching my sandwich on the way to the mountain, my thoughts wandered back to an concept that I had long ago developed for a winter sport — The New Biathlon.

Traditionally, biathlon involves cross-country skiers with rifles.  They ski the course until they arrive at designated targets.  Then they take off their skis, unsling their weapon and shoot at static targets.  The ability of these exceptional athletes to control their breathing and minimize their shakes after extreme exercise is incredible.

After shooting, the skis go back on and they ski off.  Their score is a combination of their speed and marksmanship.

Modern biathlon is a summer event that combines running with swimming.

My new sport is closer to the traditional bi in that it involves skiing and shooting.  Except in this competition, skiers hunt snowboarders.

Let’s see how cagey those slouchers are now.  I guarantee that this will prevent them from leisurely congregating in packs at the top of the lift, lallygagging while they tighten their bindings.  It will also bring to an end their dangerous practice of simply flopping down in the middle of the piste for a cig or for no apparent reason.

There will be rules, of course.

Rule No. 1 — The boarders get a 100 meter head start.

Rule No. 2 — No shooting from the lifts.

Rule No. 3 — The skier must be in motion.  No hiding in the woods to pick off the Doobie Brothers as they enter a glade to “commune with nature, Man.”

Seems fair, right?  I think so.

Okay, fast forward to later in the night.  I’m on the hill with my good buddy and ski sensei, Norm.  On this night, the boarders numbered many more than usual.  Their behavior was exceptionally rude.  Their offenses against upright human beings are far too many to recount in this post.

Shaun White -- Judge for yourselves.

The good news is that the temperature started to drop.  That drove the sliders away.  Let’s just say that they’re not as…devoted as skiers.

Anyhow, we finished out our night.  The locker room was deserted. Norm and I each keep a bag there that contains only our boots and clean socks.  In the side pockets, I keep a first aid kit and some spare sock warmers.  Norm has similar personal effects in his bag.

We discovered that someone had rifled through our bags.  !?!

After a frantic inventory, we learned that the rifler was only pulling a prank.  In each bag, he had removed the stuff from the side pockets and dumped it into the bag’s main compartment.  It was mere mischief.

Still.  There is a code.  You just don’t mess with another man’s ski gear.

This could only be the work of a….

I won’t say it.  I don’t have enough proof.

After changing our foot gear and gathering our belongings and skis, we headed out to the parking lot.

Alright, so I lied.  We stopped in the lodge for a beer first.

Then we went to the parking lot.

When I got to my car, this is what I encountered:


Do I have to say it?

You know who did this.The answer is: NO.  WE CANNOT GET ALONG.

From now on, this means war.

— The Major


2 responses to this post.

  1. I know exactly what you’re saying. The last time I skied was over 5 years ago just prior to my shoulder replacement surgery caused by a racquetball injury 15 years earlier. There was an on-going battle between the boarders and skiers, and then most slopes did a very smart thing and segregated a designated area to boarders which returned skiing to a safer, more enjoyable sport. It appears the war has escalated even more since then, probably since boarding competition was included as an olympic sport and Carrot-top or whatever his name is became a folk hero in America with his success in last winter’s olympics.
    Now I’ll open up another can of worms. I am a boater and have been for over 20 years. I happen to prefer power boats over sailing for several reasons:
    1) I love speed. I love fast cars and fast boats–but not the kind of boats that blow your contacts out of your eyes or prevent you from having a conversation with your friends. I just like to get from point A to point B (usually Stinger’s Marina on the river to Crystal Beach, Canada)as quickly and comfortably as possible. I then drop anchor in 3 feet of crystal clear water and a beautiful sand beach (hence the name Crystal Beach), cut the engine, turn on the radio and drink beer and swim and go for a walk on the beach to the best french fry stand in 50 miles. After an afternoon of fun in the sun, we lift anchor and return home (about a half hour trip) and enjoy a beautiful ride home and a beautiful sunset. Not to mention the number of times we ride up to Shanghi Red’s and dock for cocktails or down to the canal for dinner and drinks on the water. That’s my idea of boating and you can’t do that on a sailboat.
    If I had a sailboat, that trip would take two days to get there IF the wind just happens to be blowing in the right direction. By then, I’d miss two days of work and would probably encounter a storm that takes all the fun out of boating altogether.
    2) Sailing is WORK. Someone ALWAYS has to be doing something to assist in the experience, and God help you if you don’t do it right! Coming about (turning) takes a knowledgable crew and is no fun at all. A 12 year old can turn a powerboat with their pinky. Done in an instant, and away you go.
    3) Blowboaters (sailors) are cheap. They always brag about how much gas they DON’T use. They try to go a whole season on one tankful of gas (most sailboats have some sort of auxilary power) and delight in telling the world just how cheap they are. The way I look at it is we have basically only three good months of boating around here. If you get out 2 times a week, you are VERY lucky because if it’s not a weather issue, a family committment gets in the way at least once a week in the summer. The amount of gas I use during the summer is well worth the price I pay. If the air wasn’t free, sailors wouldn’t sail.

    Now don’t get me wrong. If I was invited on a big beautiful sailboat on a beautiful summer evening and IF there was a good wind (no wind sucks if you’re a sailor) I would definately go and bring a nice bottle of wine. Being on the water in any vessel is much better than not at all, and sailing can be relaxing IF you don’t own the boat or have to do any of the work. I prefer to be rail meat (people that don’t do anything but sit in the right place to make the sailboat go 1/2 knot faster)and enjoy the company and the ride.
    Your final comment is right, Major: Powerboater and blowboaters CANNOT GET ALONG!


    • Wow, Joey. What a great post. The only thing missing is the pictures.
      Are you sure you don’t want to start your own blog?
      Although, I won’t suggest a title for your nascent blog (that’s far too personal), this particular post has to be called “Sailing Blows.”
      Take care,
      – TM


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