The hardened truth behind the pow chasing dream is revealed by Heather Hansman in her recently published book Powder Days: Ski Bums, Ski Towns and the Future of Chasing Snow. Access to fresh snow, living simply, and fueling 100+ ski days have been the cornerstones of generations of ski bums and the town centered around those ideals. Hansman takes an honest look at the dark side of those dreams, the socio-economic realities, and of course the bliss that has kept a cycle of fun-seeking skiers pursuing the dream.
Here’s a brief excerpt, and a fine example of the narrative Hansman pursues:
For me, it flipped into a fixation fast. Skiing threaded through everything from the jobs I chose to the people I loved. I spent that first winter believing that skiing could be enough. In May I signed another lease, and then another.
Like any obsession, the reality was more complicated. Even calling yourself a bum signals a level of privilege, and many people who claim the identity often come from money (and lots of it), which affords them their vagabond lifestyle in the first place. There’s an imbalance that comes from chasing something fleeting and selfish because it can all fall apart in one bad fall. Scanning lift tickets sucks. Ski towns, and the built-up fantasyland of resorts can be havens for inequality and abuse. Skiers are drawn to excess and there is plenty to go around.
When I moved to Colorado in 2005, risk was everywhere, but in a way that felt exciting. I liked the brag of drinking too much, and I was too naïve to notice harder drugs. Climate change seemed vague and theoretical, and no one I knew had died in the mountains yet. The Great Recession hadn’t shaken my generation’s idea of stability yet and corporate entities were just starting to binge buy resorts. I didn’t understand the direct connection between my rampant anxiety and my relentless impermanence, and I thought living in my car was cool. I thought I could exist like that forever. – From Powder Days
You can find Powder Days at your local bookstore or online here.
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