A Match Made in Powder

Any dude can present well through drinks and dinner, but if you want to find out what a man is really made of, you have to take him skiing.

The Google search history throughout my lifetime of dating would read like the index of a psychiatry textbook. Give me a room full of attractive, successful guys, and I’ll sniff out the one whose issues are as deep as the San Andreas fault. “Ooooh, that guy’s cute,” I’ll say, pointing to the dude who just ate a handful of psilocybin shake to cover up his social anxiety, distrust of women, or fear of carpeted restaurants (admittedly, the latter is kind of gross).

Thankfully, I am also a skier. When it comes to dating, skiing has been a crucible of sorts, boiling off all the good smelling stuff to reveal the foul black blob of truth at the bottom. Turns out that a day on the hill uncovers more unsavory traits than months of wining and dining. 

To all the single ladies reading this, some words of advice: Take your new love interest skiing as early as possible, and pay attention to these red flags. They’re tells for the most prevalent skier-dude dysfunctions. 

The Addict Flag: The guy I dated in my 20s was subtle, funny, handsome, and a damn smooth skier. He only liked to ski powder, but he also always knew where to find it, so that was fine by me. I fell in love—a magical state of being most notable for making even trips to Walmart fun—and moved into a ski-town condo with him. Our biggest responsibility was an old cat who ate buttered popcorn, so we skied. A lot. But every time we ventured in the backcountry, there was a constant refrain: “Where’d he go?” Off on his own, scouting for fresh, ignoring every backcountry safety protocol ever written. Ladies, if you are skiing on an avalanche-prone slope with zero idea of where your partner is, this is a giant red flag, waving aggressively above the cliff you are about to get washed over. I don’t care how long his eyelashes are or how cute he looks when he falls asleep on the couch with a beer in his hand. If he thinks the rules do not apply to him, get the hell out of dodge—and take your knee-surgery drugs with you. That guy will ruin your life.

The Narcissist Flag: In my 30s, I met a guy my best friend called The Lumbersexual due to his penchant for skinny jeans paired with flannels. He seemed perfect—aside from the fact that his bathroom vanity contained three times more products than mine, a tiny red flag that could seem pink if I squinted hard enough. (He did smell amazing.) And then… I found out he was a telemarker. Ladies: never, ever date a telemarker. Okay, fine, that’s not entirely fair. Never date a telemarker who spends every single chairlift ride talking about how low he drops his knee, nevermind that you spent 15 minutes waiting for his freeheeling self at the bottom. And when he asks you to ski a line first—not to give you first tracks like a gentleman, but so that you can video his turns? Tell him his calendar is now as free as his heel, and keep on skiing. 

The Inner Ass Flag: In my 40s, I spent a summer and fall dating a mountain biker. He crushed, which was a powerful aphrodisiac. Plus, he knew how to navigate without an iPhone and collected Safeway coupons for me—a quirky sign of affection that I found endearing. Things were going swimmingly … until the snow started flying, which precipitated what I now refer to as Skin-Track-Gate. Ladies, no matter how delicious his muscular thighs look in jeans, a man who can’t handle being beaten by a girl is not a man at all. If he finds your badassery emasculating, he’ll soon try to erode your hard-won confidence by criticizing the way you parallel park and drink your coffee, too. Shake loose his fetters and fly far away—and fast.

We would never ski without researching conditions, bringing the right gear, and assessing the snow. So we should proceed with the same caution in relationships. Take control, dig a pit, look at the layers, and abort when imminent danger appears. And if you find one who passes all the stability tests? Take him to Walmart. See if he makes it fun.

Denver, Colo.–based writer Kimberly Beekman is single and looking for new ski partners this season. Who’s game?

This article originally appeared in the December 2019 Print Edition of SKI Magazine. Don’t miss an issue and SUBSCRIBE NOW.