Before I joined the Air Force my life evolved around 2 things: skiing and skiing. I grew up for 10 years at a ski resort and after graduating high school I proceeded to work at resorts as a bit of a ski bum for 5 more years. Skiing literally was my life, the reason I hated summer time and the only thing I thought about.

I ended up joining the AF mostly because I needed to find a way to break the cycle and start working on school so I could start the grind towards retirement so I could finally ski again, except not being in my prime.. It didn’t make sense, but I did it anyways and ended up meeting my amazing wife and finding my love for traveling. Anyways, after 6 years of cold turkey, I finally went skiing this week at Nozawa Onsen; possibly the most humbling day I have ever had.

Nozawa Onsen

I still thought a lot about skiing in my mind because I am weird like that and still go through powder withdrawals, so I thought I would not have lost too much of my brain cells dedicated to balance, technique, and the “feeling”. Basically, I thought I would step into my skis and take a run or two before I get back to my old self being able to have my way with whatever resort I was at or mountain I had climbed so long as I paid my respects to spatial awareness, inanimate objects, and avalanches. After 15 years of dedication, I thought I had earned as much.

I clicked into my skis after getting my, uhhh, square microchip device that was going to be my lift ticket and took my first kick in 6 years towards the ski lift. I knew after that first kick, a mere couple of feet that I suddenly had become what is known in the inner sanctum of ski bums as.. a beater! I suck at skiing, bad!


I thought this was like riding a bike, you never forget how to do it. I even severely underestimated the atrophy of my inner core muscles used for balance; I found myself driving from the backseat many times that day; I even felt out of control pointing my skis straight down the fall line of a groomer which used to be my comfort position after a long burner down a mogul run.

At first I despised skiing, tried to blame my ill fitting boots or the tail edges that the ski techs had not beveled off like a good ski tech should do. In the end, I knew I have become the mountains bitch.. the scum of the ski resort.. a beater. Luckily, I retained my knowledge of technique so I was able to help teach my wife since she has been a beater for life as well as reteach myself. I did start to feel much better as I took more runs, but I still think I would be counting in seasons, the amount of time it would take to get back to were I left off if I went back to skiing about 4-5 times a week. Good thing I found traveling and photography I guess! Maybe when we move to Germany we will be close enough to a resort to get back into it. I have about 2 years for the knowledge that I am a beater to set in before that time. /end rant.


2 thoughts on “Beaters

  1. That first photo is a beaut. I know exactly what you mean about atrophy. Having skied hard until I was 18, I stopped for about 10 years, and it was horrible when I started again. If only I could get my 100 days on the mountain…

    BTW, if you’re interested in some awesome BC skiing up in Hakuba, then Damian at Hakuba Alpine Guides might be a good guy to talk to – He’s also got a great blog at

  2. Thanks a lot! I don’t know if 100+ day seasons should be legal or not, but I agree I miss that so much sometimes.

    Thanks for the link to Damian’s sites. I swear I was told to look this guy up at the TGR forums when I was inquiring about skiing in Japan prior to arriving here. I didn’t get any powder to see how I could perform in that, but I bet I would need to be pretty damned careful about any terrain with exposure. I think I need a lot of ski time I won’t be able to get here in Japan before venturing into the BC unfortunately. Always good to see stories of those out there still killing it though.

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