Every now and then, I think about skiing. Usualy that's quite logical as I've got a topographic map of my favorite skiing hill on one of my walls and a picture of a telemarker from a French skiing magazine on my other wall. Whenever I see either of them I happily think about skiing for a moment. Weirdly enough, I've grown so fond of skiing over the past years that I now also daydream about it in places and times where and when I wouldn't expect to do so. In train carriages that hurl me through the longest tunnel I knew, sometime in July, onboard of large passenger ships during nightly crossings of the north sea in august and in the smallest and filthiest of all of Danmark's fishermans kro's. Even while doing some homework in the field of hydrodynamics.
My educational program has brought me to a Norwegian university for a semester and here I stand and face the rain. Looking back and looking forward. Today I cycled up a larger hill to a bookstore. That was more then all the climbing by bike I do at home in the Netherlands in a year (still, quite a lot of bridges :) ). And on that hill I thought about skiing once more. Norwegians here can start skiing as soon as the snow falls (and they appear to exercise their skiing muscles in gym's until it does), but that's not quite the case at home. You can't expect a lot in the field of skiing (or boarding, for that matter) from a land that's mostly as flat as possible. But here, far from home, with September coming up, I've suddenly realized that I will miss Dutch skiing a lot in the following months.
Looking in from the outside, I believe that I've finally understood what makes Dutch skiers and boarders different from the locals in Norway, the cool Swiss, the more then pleasant Italians or the friendly French. For years I've thought that it was a matter of fun and exhilaration that creates the positive atmosphere in the skiing communities in the low lands, but that is not a complete explanation for the fact that some guys in the Netherlands and Belgium spend evening after evening and night after night, pouring over meteorological charts of the alps in late September or early October. It's not only about the fun that's in the chase, it's also a matter of dedication.
I realized that a number of my friends can spend their September, October and November pre-trip preparation evenings at local ski hill's. They can perfect their technique with enthusiast ski instructors on rolling mats, practice their carve-turns on indoor skiing slopes and even work their park skills on the brush-descents throughout the land. Last year I prepared myself with a weekly trip to the local hill. The bottom of the rolling mat probably lies a meter or 2 below sea level and the top a meter above :). The result of my weekly practice hour was spot on. The first turn's on real snow, halfway October, were as good as any turns I've ever made before. No need to get going for a day or two if you've been perfecting your style for weeks. And let's be honest, who doesn't want to score direct hits in deep October pow?
And that's a thing I'm quite proud of. That I'm able to spend my life with friends who invest a lot of time and hard work in chasing the perfect snow that we ourselves definitely don't get. And although few Europeans must travel further to find it, we don't find ourselves short of successful freeriders. We make it count. wePowder!
And while we powder, how do We powder? How do you friendly French prepare for a new winter? (Besides eating tartiflettes for extra downhill capabilities of course...). And how do you serious Swiss get ready for a new season? With the preparation of material, or is that more of a German thing? I can only hope that you dear Italians don't forget to stock your cellars with enough fresh food to last through the winter ;)