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Our 5 Favorite Essays That Sum Up Why We Ski

Our top writers have perfected the art of the essay in our near-iconic Ode column. These are some of the best.

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The art of the essay has been finely honed in SKI’s Ode column—a department that originated in the now-shuttered Skiing Magazine over a decade ago. So many of our very best writers have poured their hearts into their respective Odes, waxing poetic over whatever mundane or quixotic aspect of skidom caught their fancy.

We’ve rounded up some of our favorite Odes from the last few years to help pass the time until the temps start to cool off. Sit back and let the nostalgia of seasons’ past flood back.

An Ode to the Simple Joy of Summer Ski Maintenance

Original illustration by Owen Tucker

Former Skiing editor Kevin Luby gives a nod to growing up and shedding the last vestiges of his ski-bum youth in this poignant essay about his languishing skis’ blackened P-Tex and oxidized edges.

“The realization that I’m not as rad as I used to be is tough to accept. I’m probably reading too deeply into these rusty edges, but I see a not-too-distant future where time comes even more at a premium and the fun casualty list grows beyond skiing. Hell, I just turned 30 and just got married. Giving my skis a respectful tune to tee them up for next season should be the least of my worries, right?”

Read the full story here.

An Ode to the Universal Language of Skiers—Powder

"Cartoon Skiers"
Courtesy of Kagan McLeod

Longtime SKI contributor Crystal Sagan makes connections that transcend the verbal format while skiing deep powder with a group of international skiers in B.C. Selkirk Mountains.

“Regardless of the language barriers, it’s not hard to tell everyone is excited as we make our way uphill on the first day of touring. We take turns skiing one at a time on the steeper pitches, all of us cheering on the rest and high-fiving at the bottom. We’re easily able to share the excitement despite our inability to communicate.”

Read the rest of the Ode here.

An Ode to the Art of the Ski-Town Barter

"Fine Tuned pie in the ski shop"
Original illustration by Kagan McLeod

Ski-town living has taught writer Tess Wood that there’s a variety of skills that are in demand on the barter market on any given day, and that one way to your ski tech’s heart is through the stomach.

“I’ve found many cash alternatives of choice over the years. Of course, there’s the canned, fermented option. You’d blush to know the things a ski tech will do when gifted a case of beer. And my amateur baking skills did not develop for nothing. That chocolate whiskey pecan pie was, initially, to impress a boy, but it also impressed a whole back shop worth of boys into tuning my skis.”

Read the full article here.

An Ode to the Joys and Pitfalls of Dating a Skier Dude

"Dating on Skis Illustration"
Original illustration by Kagen McLeod

Former Skiing editor-in-chief and prolific SKI contributor Kimberly Beekman took one—or several—for the female persuasion and dated enough skier dudes to write a proper manifesto. 

“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.”

Read the rest of the story here.

An Ode to Game Night at the Ski Condo

"Ode Game Changer illustration"
Originally illustration by Kagen McLeod

Writer Tim Neville makes the connection between board games and the perfect ski day in this heartwarming essay about dominoes, grandma’s house, pandemic gatherings, and the beauty of never knowing what the next roll of the dice brings.

“That day in the lodge got me thinking about how games and skiing make awesome bedfellows. With either, you never truly know what you’re going to get—a powder day or a whiteout? A great hand or a terrible one? The fun comes from using what you’re dealt in the best possible way. It hasn’t snowed in weeks? Go gouge some high-G turns into a stale groomer and tell me that it wasn’t fun. With dominoes, it’s the excitement of not knowing what comes next.”

Read the whole article here.