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Make It A Good One.

The last turn of the last run on any ski day is a bittersweet moment.  If it’s the last day of the trip, it is sad if not melancholic.  On one hand, I’ve spent the day or days enjoying my favorite sport and on the other, there’s no more skiing until the next trip that could be days, weeks, or months in the future.

As I come down the mountain on what will be my last run of the day, I go through the same routine.  Partly because I am tired, partly because the beginner runs are easy skiing and take me to the bottom, and partly because I want to be able to remember perfect turns I made to carry me over to the next trip.

Feet close together, tap the pole, unweight, and roll your knees.

It is also about muscle memory.  I want my body to remember how it felt to have the skis carve through the snow in a perfect turn.

As the skis come through the fall line, press the knees forward and into the hill to get the skis on edge.

It is also about knowing that life is short and we never know what tomorrow brings.  As a senior skier, I am closer to the end of my skiing life than the beginning.  Its depressing but true that makes the desire to carve the perfect turn even more intense.

Feel the edges bite into the snow and keep the turn coming across the fall line to control your speed.

At the end of every ski day, I want my mind and body to remember the turns, not just one, but a series of linked, perfect round ones.

Body square over the skis, or maybe angled down the fall line and hold the turn long enough to control your speed.

It has to be close to perfect so that even an instructor examiner would smile in approval.

Hands out in front held mid-chest high, feet less than shoulder width apart, ready for the turn.

The last turn was nice and round with the skis on edge that left a little tossed snow.  Now time for the next turn, hopefully as good as if not better than he last one to add to the string.

Stay in rhythm and reach out, tap the snow, unweight, and roll the knees.

The process goes on until I reach the bottom, trying to make each turn better than the one before it in an attempt to end a day on the snow with a perfect turn.  It may be a never-ending search, but the quest is a reason to head back to the slopes as soon as I can.  Why?  Because at age 73, this could be my last day on the slopes, and I want to remember that I did all I could do to make the perfect turn.

18 Comments

  1. No way Marc. Lots of good turns left in you. Don’t even think about that. Keep skiing and being active. I understand your narrative here but keep that positive attitude. It ain’t over till it’s over and you won’t know it when it is. Haha.

    • Trust me. I plan to. If nothing else to piss off the areas that only offer free skiing to those of us who are over eighty! And, I want to be able to still ski 25+K vertical feet a day.

  2. Marc, your article perfectly captures my thoughts and emotions as I took my last turns of the season. I also took a novice trail and want to hold on to the feeling of making those perfect linked carved turns.
    Thanks,
    Don

  3. Because, like life itself, one never knows when it’s going to end, I still have hope for one more day on skis. But here in the Northeast, with several days of rain coming, it’s likely the only remaining skiing will be Superstar at Killington, and with heavy spring corn, that will be no novice slope.
    So, that’s the paradox, trying to make the final perfect turn on a steep, bumpy, slushy minefield. And maybe that’s a parable for life itself.

    • I can empathize and feel your pain.

      I was at Killington at the NSAA Regional Event and the first day I was there it was in the 20s and overcast. Later in the afternoon it started to drizzle. When I came out in the morning, my car was covered with a half an inch of ice. The slopes were in pretty good shape because the freezing line was about a quarter of the way up the mountain.

      You gotta love skiing in New England. One day it is fantastic, one day it is bitter cold and then the other days its raining, snowing, or something else.

  4. Great message, Marc. It seems only fitting that you’ll write your first column of the 2019-20 season on your “first turn of the first run.” It may not be up to par with this year’s last turn, but the thrill and excitement of the beginning of another season is unmatched.

  5. Avatar Peter Nicholson says:

    Thank you for your posts the Last Perfect Turn.
    Well written, it pulled on my hart strings. I hope we both have many last turns left.
    Ps, I skied France this year, but as I live in Australia I am booked to ski New Zealand in August, bring it on, this 70 year young skier can’t wait.

  6. Avatar John Barker. says:

    Marc you said it right! I make sure that I get that last run, last turn at the end of every ski day. It seems that I have done it that way forever. Sometimes at the end of the day it’s for different reasons. But i make sure it’s the best turns, the best run of the day. Its the one run that that links into all the next first’s!
    Thanks for sharing and thanks for the memories. Cheers!

  7. Avatar Bruce Lund says:

    I never label a run to be “the last run”. About 20 years ago I was skiing with a friend at Snowbird and we decided to call it a day. However, when we arrived at the gondola t o go back down, I spotted the run next to the gondola which we had not skied. I asked my friend to wait for me while I skied it. It was a great run so I decided to take a” last run”. Unfortunately, I wiped out on a mogul and blew out my ACL – that was my last designated “last run!!!

    • I hear you. Towards the end of the day, I know when I am spent and I just walk away. That’s why, when I come down to the bottom, knowing I am making what my body tells me is my last one, I don’t go back up, no matter how tempting. Your story is what I fear.

  8. Avatar katie van hees says:

    Come to Sun Valley. We are all “old” here. I’m the same age as you but the crowd putting on their boots looks even older than me. My last day Saturday was to spread ashes of a good ski buddy (who was much, much older than me and you.) Then, too many toasts of margaritas at the top plus ill fitting new boots, my last run was damn pathetic. Outright embarrassing. But, another gal and I are going to Squaw for the last run with perfect turns and then hang them up.

    • Katie,
      Good on you for honoring your friends. i haven’t been to Sun Valley in years, but love it. From where I live, its a pain in the butt to get there. I love Squaw and its my favorite in the Tahoe area.

      Anything time one is skiing, its not pathetic!!! Think of all all the other folks our age who hung up their skis.

  9. I find your description of enjoying outstanding carved turns very worthwhile and I can actually feel the enthusiasm and the ability that you are trying to share. All that is great but who needs the qualifiers and it sounds like you are talking yourself into a quicker old age, loss of ability and future new experiences. You have had some great skiing enjoy it and the more experience you have the better you will get. Move forward.

  10. Avatar Rick Payer says:

    Always, the search never ends.Marc described it perfectly. Peter Kray’s superb book, The God of Skiing, has several passages I have thumbnoted. A favorite: “But if you ski then you have that forever…..And I always wanted to know how good I was when I was the best I could have ever been”

  11. Rick,
    What’s scary and I struggled to come to grips with in my late sixties and early seventies is that I will never again be able to ski as well as I did when i was younger. As I get older, the conditions I will ski narrows, but steepness, doesn’t bother me unless it is like a hockey rink.

    Keep them turning!

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