Ski racer at the 2022 Killington Women's World Cup. Photo: Dylan Nichols

It is a different start to ski season this year. According to tradition, my ski boots have taken up residence in the living room around the middle of October. This year, they only moved into position this first week of December. Making the most of available sunshine, I ventured to Sugarbush on Sunday.


The skiing was chill, a good feeling that has been absent so far this season. There was a cool breeze from the south and west. Just being out on the hill was chill, almost like telemarking chill.

If there is an aspect of skiing that is totally chill, it is telemarking. When I see a good telemarker making elegant, terrain-flowing turns, I am envious of their free-heeling nature. I was riding fat, all mountain skis and my tune was inadequate to the conditions. I envied those that were sporting race skis even more.

We rode a lift with a college-aged skier who was decked out in full race gear and was at Sugarbush for his first season. From the perspective of the Valley House lift, we scouted Castlerock and described to him how to ski it when the lift was down. Rumble makes a particular impression from a distance. It strikes me that the ~800-vertical-foot section that twists and drops down that ridge is a macro fall line just as much as the back side of a bump is a micro fall line. Both perspectives on fall line affect the quality and efficiency of your turns.


For inspiration, let’s turn now to World Cup skiing. In any challenging endeavor be it music, writing or sport, there is always that individual that is obviously a “natural.” Almost anyone can succeed at an endeavor with training, grit, and hard work, but there are certain people who just seem to have a natural knack. At the Beaver Creek World Cup speed events, Ryan Cochran-Siegle (RCS) demonstrated exactly that natural aptitude. RCS, the local hero, and Olympic Silver Medalist, snagged a respectable sevemth-place finish in the Downhill and was even more spectacular in Super-G.


In the Super-G, RCS made a mistake on a fall away gate and at very high speed ducked under the gate’s banner as he skied right through it. It was a move that you would expect from a 3-foot-tall, 10-year-old kid at Cochran’s. RCS dropped his strapping ~6-foot frame under the banner and skied out of what could have been a nasty crash. Nature or nurture? Instinct or learned? Both — and just in time as his mom and a throng of supporters at Cochran’s no doubt leapt from their chairs! We watched the replay six times and still don’t know how he pulled it off.

There is a Zen saying that applies: “Whatever situation you are in, you should find yourself in it immediately.” RCS showed super-human instincts and an unteachable ability to make decisions in the moment or what is also known as divergent thinking.

During World War II, the Air Force commissioned J.P. Guilford, a psychologist at the University of California to develop testing for creativity. The Air Force wanted to select pilots who in an emergency — the unexpected failure of a gear or instrument — would respond with appropriately original behavior, saving themselves and the plane. The usual IQ tests were not designed to tap originality, and hence Guilford was funded to develop what later became known as the tests for divergent thinking. (Czikszentmihalyi, Creativity, 1996)

Now you know what it’s called.

I made some turns on Snowball/Spring Fling on Sunday. Fast and fun were the conditions. Fast is okay with us, that is what we like, although I was getting smoked by my buddy on his new Stoeckli skis. Expert skiing is a meritocratic sport, it is catch up, keep up or shut up. On that note, I’ll wish everyone a snowy fall and a happy Winter Solstice. The next Fall Line will publish the first day of winter, December 22.


The bronzed visage now hanging on the wall at Sugarbush is none other than the master of round turns, fast tunes and deep tans, Mister Brook Weston. The sun is never so bright as when it is reflected off snow! If the sun is shining, you’ll find him outside of Mountainside Ski Tuners. Offer congratulations when you drop your skis off for a tune and you’ll be smiling on a cloudy day.