“30s are brisk…”

… 20s are ‘cool’, teens are ‘chilly’, single digits are ‘cold’. You can only say ‘freezing’ when it’s subzero, and wind chill doesn’t count, because it’d be dumb to go outside nude in the wintertime. It’s a mantra that’s served me well.

I’m not alone in pushing back at the way weather reporting encourages a fear of normal winter weather. Viking Nordic’s Facebook feed recently posted a link to this article in Outside magazine:

Over-Hyped Weather Forecasts Are Bad for Skiing

Weather sites and reporters on weather events maximize attention by emphasizing risk and hazards. The article contends this is harmful to winter sports and the businesses that depend on them, and possibly to endeavors that require a measure of ruggedness.

Wasthington crossing Delaware in winter

“It’s like [reporters have] all been exiled to Vermont from some tropical paradise. Lots of them really seem to hate winter.”

Eric Friedman, marketing director at Vermont’s Mad River Glen

The article goes on to talk about how skiing is about having fun in the snow, but “We are far more risk averse today than we used to be.”

Cross-country skiing (at least until it goes exclusively into ski tunnels or on man-made snow), means we take what nature gives us. The activity involves moving parts that are loosely attached. What with weather, equipment, and coordination, at any moment we can have an ‘uff-da’ realization (oy vey! for Noo Yawkas).

And with that I sugue into a second mantra that serves me well:

“je ne regrette rien”

The cross-country skier has to enjoy the totality of the experience, not just the moments we feel mastery and competence.

This YouTube video features the total opposite of that feeling. It’s an edit of crashes and pratfalls at a ski marathon in Estonia, in the middle of which a set of titles appear that seem to say: ‘can this really be happening?’

Losing your dignity is a feature, not a bug

At about the 11′ 30″ mark is a series of spills at what seems like a pretty innocuous corner, accompanied by heavy metal music. The conveyer-belt like stream of people going down brings to mind Charlie Chaplin or Buster Keaton.

As in those old comedy movies, no one is seriously hurt- this is not extreme sport. The actual risk is to composure, and it’s funny because I identify with it: there are so many times I’ve looked (and probably felt) the same way. And like the skiers in the video, I shake it off, enjoy, and come back for more.

Cross-country skiing. A recreational activity in which losing your dignity is a feature, not a bug.