We just can’t wait . . . for winter in the air, for the cold in our breath, for fluffy flakes falling from the sky, for snow on the ground. Seasons turn, leaves surrender, days shorten, and our imaginations turn to tracks on the hills and corduroy on the trails. Winter is coming . . . and we just can’t wait.
Youth Sport autumn leagues are winding down—soccer, mountain biking, cross country running, all the wonderful sports offered through programs and schools—and young ski-athletes are beginning to imagine winter. Throughout the world’s skiing nations, kids and coaches, teams and programs begin gathering on playing fields and running trails and parking lots. SKIERS are beginning to gather! Programs supporting young skiers stage workouts and meetings, combine games and skills with ski-specific challenges and opportunities. This is the season of trying on new boots, of sizing up taller poles, of shopping skis at the ski swap. This is the season of bounding and striding, of strength-building and core-testing: we re-start the process of building young skiers in preparation for the season we love.
In youth programs around the skiing world, kids are rolling tentatively across parking lots, re-learning the skills of roller skiing: the pushing and the gliding, the slowing and the stopping, the weight shift and the body posture. In every skiing community, young skiers are taking first steps onto paved paths and suitable roadways, learning techniques that allow wheels to imitate skis and pavement to imitate snow. But we also need to acknowledge that roller skiing requires some courage—first steps are always unsteady, last year’s muscles are not yet toned, last year’s balance needs to be reawakened—and the pavement is an unforgiving surface. Everyone who has roller skied has known the scraped knee, the scuffed palm, the tattered fabric. Everyone who trains on roller skis once experienced a very first moment on roller skis. No one started out as an expert. We all stumbled. We all tumbled. We all learned. We all figured it out. That’s what these young skiers are doing today . . . all around the skiing world. So, we celebrate the enthusiasm they bring to the task, the skills they are eager build, the techniques they are determined to master. We celebrate all those young skiers who prepare for a season that is yet to arrive. But when it does arrive, they’ll be ready.
A chill in the evening air, the first frost on the morning grass: these are the autumn days in which skiers begin to imagine the season ahead. Winter is not a season to hide from, not a season to fear. It’s simply a time when the world rests, when celestial lights are turned down low, when the planet’s waters are replenished and we lie tucked under a blanket of white until spring returns. Skiers are the people who go out to meet this winter season: it’s half of our year, so we find the means to go out to play. If we get to go play in the snow, then we’ll happily endure the windshield-scraping and the winter-driving and the firewood splitting and the driveway-shoveling. We bundle up, we pack snowballs, we make angels, we stay young.
We just can’t wait . . .