The Longest Run In Minnesota
“In the nineteenth century, Fritjof Nansen wrote that skiing washes civilization clean from our minds by dint of its exhilarating physicality. By extension, I believe that snow helps strip away the things that don’t matter. It leaves us thinking of little else but the greatness of nature, the place of our souls within it, and the dazzling whiteness that lies ahead.”
― Charlie English
My dad learned to ski in the army. That was probably the last place he’d skied. Thanks to him, my sister and I learned to ski at a local ski school and were pretty good at it. Suzy being a natural athlete, was better than I was, but we both raced for the ski school — so I wasn’t too shabby. Scott and Bill had taken lessons too, but hadn’t taken to the sport with the passion Suzy and I had.
For fun, dad took all of us to the Lutsen Resort up north for a weekend. We were thrilled to go. It wasn’t exactly a mountain, but the next best thing to it in Minnesota. They had a run that lasted one and a half miles! We were very excited, especially Suzy and I.
We broke up into groups. Suzy and I were skiing together and dad and the boys were on the beginner’s hill. I had never seen my dad ski before and I was amazed he could do it. I don’t want to be critical of his technique, but I’m sure he would be the first to admit he didn’t have any. But he wasn’t falling down. Not ever. I had never seen him do anything but excel at a sport so this was new. He did not want any of us giving him advice, pointers or help though that was for sure!
It was a glorious day. Not too cold and the sun was shining! Suzy and I were taking the chair lift to the top of the longest run and going down it as many times as we possibly could. I was finally starting to get a little tired and was standing at the bottom of the run. I noticed Billy and Scotty with our baby sister Sara and Betty up in the Chalet window and I wondered where Dad was. I knew Suzy had gone to take another run.
I was just looking around here and there for my dad. He was wearing a big brown parka with a hood and should be easy to spot. Suddenly from midway down the long run I saw his parka, and his stance on his skis. He was coming down the longest run in the state without a single technique to slow or impede his progress. He looked magnificent. He was standing on his skis without leaning too far forward or too far back — completely balanced. He had his body in a slight tuck which they may have taught him in the army or he was doing instinctively. It kept him from falling over backwards.
Nothing about the look of this determined balanced, almost graceful, certainly agile skier showed any indication that he was going down anything but the longest run. It did make you wonder a bit how he was going to stop.
Easily! He stayed to the left where the fewest people were and let inertia take over. He ran out of momentum and stopped. Nice run, Dad, I hollered. He smiled at me. What a perfect run. What a perfect day!