Sunday, December 29, 2013

Social Dynamics of Skiing

    A couple of events at the local ski area have given me an opportunity to muse about the social dynamics of skiing and ski areas.   First of all I am delighted to be associated with the Greek Peak resort that has a serious commitment to interaction with the local community.  Not only does the area employ a significant number of people especially during the ski season, but they also are sensitive to giving back to the less fortunate of the area.   Their support of the Adaptive Ski Program is one special give back.  And the annual free day of skiing on December 24 with a food item from each skier for the local food pantry is an enormous boost for that program.   It is a special delight to see the food items accumulate and the financial donation box also get its due.   See the photo below of the great folks who facilitate this food drive.
Food Crew At Work - Thank You!
    In another vein, I am enthralled with the impact of the new quad chair at Greek Peak.  This new facility has engendered a lot of smiles from the skiers.  We feel like we are now entering a new phase of finer skiing and obviously finer dining with the new Trax Restaurant.   I seem to recall that the management guru, Tom Peters once said examine the rest rooms of a a business and by their quality you can get an idea of the quality of the operation.  Thanks to the recent renovations at the Peak, it looks like we are on an upswing in quality.
    Now that I have had several rides on the new quad chair lift, mostly with strangers, I have encountered a new social dynamic of four people on a lift.   The question is, "How will the conversation flow with the group"?   I think this comes down to a mathematical study of combinations.   With four people on the chair I calculate there are twelve different pair interactions possible and even beyond that there are one to three and one to two interactions as well.   Thus a ride with four people can be a chaotic set of conversational exchange.   So what kind of socialization happens?   In one case the ride was almost dominated by one "loudmouth".   In other cases there were simultaneous paired conversation with two adjacent pairs.   And in a few cases the outer two even conversed across the inner two.   I imagine that there might even be silent rides.  Not likely!  How much simpler life is with a double chair.   And if you have ever had a ride on the single chair at Mad River Glen in Vermont you can just zone out or often what happens conversation travels chair to adjacent chair.    Perhaps I need to talk with sociologists, mathematicians and communications specialists to get their take on what is going on.   Meanwhile I will continue my field work observing the social dynamics of riding a quad lift.
Happy Foursome Leaving The Quad


Saturday, December 21, 2013

Jinx - Skiing Ugly

     The only way to describe the skiing this afternoon at Greek Peak is UGLY.   It is amazing that we could go from an absolutely perfect day of skiing on Thursday to plug ugly on Saturday afternoon.  It was raining, the visibility was poor, the goggles were covered with rain dots and the slope was dotted with signs of "thin and bare spots".   There has been an incredible loss of snow.   I even had to remove my skis to get to the Elysian Fields and  Karyotis.   Surprisingly Trojan had the best snow.
     So I think I placed a jinx on the weather when I bought snow tires this week!  This is the first year in 30 years that I decided to purchase snow tires for my car.   After we had such a consistent run of snowy roads I was convinced that this winter was going to be marked by a deluge of snow.   Some of my ski companions suggested that my purchase of snow tires shook the universe and as a result the rains have come.  Woe is me if that is true.
     Even though the skiing today was ugly, I am still enough of an avid skier that I can say even a bad day of skiing is still a good day!   And yes, I did tough it out long enough to declare it an "official day".   Enough runs to qualify for the official day designation.
Can You See a Skier on the Right Hand Slope?

Monday, December 16, 2013

Happy Anniversary -Pret and Nita

    The Goslee's had a good time skiing at Greek Peak today except for the disappearance of their car keys.  It was my good fortune (and likely theirs)  to encounter them in the locker area as they were making a meticulous search for the missing keys.  Unfortunately the keys were not found.  Thus it was my pleasure to give them a ride to their home in Cortland to retrieve the spare keys.   It was a pleasurable time to catch up on news and swap stories of various items we have lost in our lifetimes.
    As we were parting, Pret said to me,  "This ride is an anniversary present".   Lo and behold, Pret and Nita will be celebrating their 64th Wedding Anniversary tomorrow!   Wow!  Blessings to both of you and may there continue to be many more to celebrate.   You both are heroes for the geezer community in so many ways.  God bless!
There They Go!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Trade Offs!

      Yesterday another geezer skier crashed on freshly made snow from the snow makers.   I have already written about snow maker anxiety caused by my own crash of January 2013.  So why do I return to this topic?   It is clear that skiing on a slope where snow making is in progress is a hazardous activity for many reasons.   (To be fair, the ski area does warn the skiers with a sign of "Caution Snow Making").   Even when you heed the warning it is often difficult to navigate the slope to avoid not only fellow skiers but also to compensate for the lack of visibility.   Goggles are frequently iced over no matter how careful you are passing the spate of new snow.   On a cloudy day it is also a challenge to read the snow surface for evidence of wet and sticky snow.
     I have outlined the hazards.   So, why do we continue to ski slopes with snow making in progress?   Both the ski area and the skiers are making trade offs.   The ski area wants our business and during the early season it is essential to keep the snow making going to build base.   Skiers want to be on the slope too and most are willing to take the risk of a crash.   At the beginning of the season it is probably reasonable to operate with the trade off between hazardous skiing versus no skiing at all.   However, I cannot fathom why a ski area would need to open a snow making slope to skiers during the rest of the season.   For my part, I will be very glad to see more slopes open up to relieve the risk of skiing through the snow makers.  
     Meanwhile, fellow geezers take to heart a cautious approach to the slopes with snow making.   And best wishes to Pat R. for a speedy recovery.   Certainly we all need to preserve these old geezer bodies for the sake of our loved ones!

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Snow Maker Anxiety

   After my crash of last January 2013 on freshly made snow by a snow maker I am always a bit anxious skiing on a slope where snow making is in progress.    That was true today since both major slopes at Greek Peak had snow makers spewing out fresh snow.   For the most part we were able to avoid snow goggle icing, but one could never be sure how slippery the freshly made snow would be.   After last year's tragedy I had vowed I would never ski on a slope with snow making in progress.   So much for that vow today.   Since there were no other alternative slopes I had no other choice but the beginner's slope.
   So how did I justify breaking my vow?  The answer was caution for every turn approaching the snow making area.   Caution meant reading the snow surface, slowing down and raising my alert level to red!  Thankfully I had no mishaps.
   Early season skiing can be challenging and sometimes one wonders whether the risk is worth the reward.   If you don't press the envelope too far you can have a good time without injury.   The bright sunshine today also gave great visibility as a mitigating factor.
   It is one thing to ride a lift to access marginal conditions but would anyone hike to do the same?  Answer:  My son Colin chose to hike Mad River Glen today to ski a sheet of ice.   Ah yes the vigor of youth!
   Caution is always a good idea for geezer skiers.  Only a few geezers were on the slope today likely for that reason.   Here is hoping for more snow and better conditions.
2012-2013 Snow Making Day at Greek Peak