Why Bring Cai to Skiing:

I was going to call this “teaching Cai to ski” but this is a little presumptuous. What we did was provide experiences and think about the strategies. Ones that would capture his imagination and make him want to do it. I love skiing. It is my favorite activity and it is important to me that Cai carries a torch for it too. I have fantasies of an ancient Wil going out with Cai clicking in and gliding down a mountain. What I love is that Cai thinks about it too.

To find out how we introduced Cai to skiing click here.

Before Cai was born I instructed at Ski Cooper near Leadville. There are three things I love about Ski Cooper. It is a small mom and pop ski hill. They do not make any snow. Created by the 10th Mountain Division during the Second World War. They used it to train before heading to Europe . Because of this it oozes a lot of history. You imagine the troops cutting their teeth on wooden skis here. Weighed down by heavy packs, rifles and ammunition. When I worked there some of these original soldiers were still alive. I saw men more than 100 years old strap on their skis and take a run. Goosebumps populate my flesh and tears come to my eyes as I write this. The act of skiing moved them so much and triggered so many memories they wanted to do it “one more time”. This was a special group of men, many of whom shaped the ski industry on their return Stateside. I want Cai to ski because of this power to capture someone’s imagination and motivate them to do great things.

There are few activities that grab people and shape them as much as skiing does. This era is one where we are being detached from our connection with our own ecology. Where the understanding of nature is eroding and human made constructs replacing it. It is important to have a reminder of the subtleties of our bodies. It is imperative to feel how our own mechanics bring efficiency and joy. The little shift of balance. The minuscule tensions in a toe muscles. Creating the difference between a smile or whiplash. It is imperative to experience freedom. The kind that results from floating through a field of the softest, lightest powder. A tail held suspended behind you. The white wave breaking overhead as your lower legs lift the snow and your body punches through it. The giddy, raucous laughter that only the cognoscenti understand. But, everyone can hear and want to be their own. Anyone who listens to the sound of someone riding a windless, cold storm day knows it must be special. That sound affirms that life is incredible. We all know people who need to hear that sound and then learn to make it their own.

This is what I want to share with my boy. It is what I have been working towards for years. The wild laughter as you release control of your skis and let them do what they need to stay afloat. This is a metaphor that I want to put out into the world. Death grip control keeps you from feeling true freedom. It holds you down. When you let loose among forces of nature you find the sublime. Once you have experienced it you know you can make it happen in other areas of your life. As he travels the modern human journey. One where he learns more cynicism every year I want him to see an alternative. In spite of the countless experiences of childhood beliefs reducing to dust. I want him to have an elevated sensation he can hold on to.

Before he was able to go deep and fast enough for the full body powder experience, he still had some of these moments. I loved hearing him describe them. One example was at the end of the season we were skiing off the snow-cat at Loveland. We were stood at the top of a field of untouched snow. I asked him if I had pushed him too hard that season. He said he enjoyed it. He said he particularly enjoyed moments like these. Staring down on this white meadow, he described freedom in a way only a child can. It was beautiful, simple and erudite. “Dad right now I feel like there is no boss of me.” “I feel like there are no kings, or queens, or presidents.” He was ten years old. I am proud when I come up with a turn of phrase like that. I am prouder when it comes out of my son’s mouth. He had described my euphoria skiing, one I had never found the words for. He inspired me to figure out how to describe many of my own feelings. The beauty of finding words for your feelings is that you can then make them happen more frequently. You write the recipe for them through finding the right vocabulary.

We all deserve to feel that euphoria. Whether skiing is our thing or not we need to find something that lets us experience sublime. We need to be rocked by it, moved by it and inspired by it. We need to harness it and let it power us in our endeavors to make the world a better place. This is why I want Cai to ski.

What do you want your kids to do and why?

Wil Rickards