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Is Skiing Like French Fries?

Northwest editor Michael Lanza wonders: Is a skiing addiction unhealthy?

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Click. Click. Push off. Glide. Emit sigh of long-repressed, utter joy.

I’ve been anticipating this for a while now—months, actually. I’m on skis for the first time this season. It’s Thanksgiving morning, 13° F, a few flakes bouncing around in the air, and three feet of powder on the ground. I’m heading out by myself in the Boise Foothills and I’m on the clock: I gotta get home to make the potatoes for 12 people for Thanksgiving dinner.

But it feels really good to be skiing again. So I find myself rationalizing: There will be about a quarter-ton of food at dinner. I’d be doing everyone a favor to ski longer instead of making potatoes, right? Don’t get me wrong: I’m as thankful as the next person for family, friends, health, cheap gas, blah, blah. I’m just particularly thankful to be skiing.

Of course, I give in to guilt, cruising back down in time to cook—all the while plotting how I’ll squeeze at least three days of skiing into this long holiday weekend. For anyone with a real life, as I definitely sort of have, such calculations essentially entail figuring out what stuff you’re supposed to do that you can get away with blowing off.

And because we live in an age of intense social pressures to live responsibly (oh, to have the late ’70s and early ’80s back again), this makes me wonder: Do I have a problem?

Next morning, I’m skiing again, this time with my kids at Bogus Basin, the resort near Boise. We’re following a routine game plan: The kids and I ride the lifts and make several runs while my wife hits the Nordic trails. We rendezvous by early afternoon, and I skate-ski while the three of them eat lunch and warm up in the Nordic lodge. When I return from an hour-plus of the cardio-masochism that accompanies the first skate-ski of the season, my family’s outside, eager for a game of ski tag. They remind me that I’m still “it” from last winter.

We chase each other up and downhill for another hour; then everyone just feels like skiing around. I begin to wonder what it says about my family that, even as my seven-year-old daughter gushes, “Wow, look at that sunset!”, we’re making no moves toward heading back to our car. Do we need to start carrying headlamps when we ski? Or should my wife and I have a conversation about whether we’re encouraging habit-forming behavior in our kids?

To finish this entry, read on at

—Mike Lanza

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