From the Hip: If You Can't Take the Heat...

From The Hip
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From The Hip
Alta Pow 020603

Every year, the "Dog Days" of summer get to me. When August arrives and the temperatures reach their pinnacle, I get an overwhelming feeling in my body that wants summer to end and winter to begin. It's the time of year when my ski-blood boils as gear guides hit newsstands and ski shops stock their shelves with the year's newest equipment. Maybe it's the anticipation of carving the year's first turns that gets the better of me. Or maybe I'm just tired of sweating.

Don't get me wrong, I'm a huge golfer and I love summer. But in Colorado, golf is a year-round sport, and sunny, 65-degree winter days are the norm in the Front Range. So bring on the mountain snow.

This year, I'm especially excited for the ski season. After ample snowfall blessed the Rockies last year, anticipation for good snowpack is high. Hopefully, the snow gods will be kind to every mountain peak this winter.

I'm also excited for World Cup skiing. After breakout years from Bode Miller, Daron Rahlves, Kirsten Clark and Jonna Mendes, expectations are high for them and the U.S. Ski Team, whose alpine team and men's team both finished third in the Nation's Cup standings last year. Also, the drama builds as Hermann Maier returns for his first full season since his motorcycle accident. Will he return to "Herminator" dominance or just survive? Meanwhile, his teammate and rival, Stephan Eberharder returns for his 15th season to defend his Super G and Overall World Cup titles, which he narrowly won over Bode Miller (Dammit!). Can he hold off Bode for another season? Or will Miller become the first U.S. male skier since Phil Mahre in 1983 to win the Overall World Cup Title? It'll be exciting to watch.

Moreover, I'm excited to enter this ski season 100 percent healthy. Last season, for the first time in my skiing career, I skied hurt. After surfing an avalanche in Alaska in April 2002, I dubbed myself "a social skier" and cruised the mountain groomers with an unassertive and gregarious attitude. It was fun, but skiing hurt is nothing like skiing healthy. I'm looking forward to attacking the mountain again. So be aware because I just might be on your tail.

Lastly, I'm excited to be involved with the best sport in the world for another season. Skiing isn't a sport as much as it is a way of life. Our attitudes are dominated by weather, snow conditions and dreams of carving the perfect turn in the perfect environment. To me, it's the closest thing to flying without leaving the ground.

So, fade out the sprinklers and spark up the snowguns. Pack up the fireworks and break out the avy charges. Get into shape and think of that first day on the slopes when you carve your first turn and feel free again. Bring on winter!