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The DOs & DON’Ts of Skiing: How to Not Be a Beater

Beat – er:
| ˈbētər |
1. A person who uses bravado in an effort to make up for his or her lack of skill.
2. A person who mistakes having fun for being “rad.”

Everybody knows the highest accomplishment in skiing is to go fast and big while looking like you aren’t trying at all. But you don’t have to be able to sail smoothly over every gap to hold your own at the resort. Even if you can really only French fry somewhat proficiently, the main thing is to avoid being a beater. Here’s how.

Ski-Bro Lingo and When to Use It

Short answer: Never.

Long answer: Unless you’re at home, bragging to your mom/dad/significant other/pet about “how hard you sent it” and how “epic” and “gnar” the “blower” was today, please stop talking or use normal, adult words. Enthusiasm is encouraged, high volume is tolerated, but ski lingo is extremely annoying. When you have legend status and ability like, say, Seth Morrison, you can talk however you want. But here’s the thing: Seth doesn’t talk like that, and you will never ski like him. The best way to sound cool is to shut up and let your skiing do the talking. Besides, anyone who says “sickbird” unironically is either high, really high, or both.

What To Wear

Short answer: Keep it basic.

BC-beater-teeLong answer: If you ski for a living, people will give you next year’s outerwear and it’s your job to wear it like it’s no big deal. Barring that, keep things as simple as possible. Solid colors are a good call. Muted tones will keep you anonymous when you blow up under the chairlift, so restrict the neon to a flashy pair of goggles, gloves, or poles (preferably from the ’90s—more on poles later). Beware of overcoordinating, and for god’s sake, don’t tuck your pants into your boots. If you’re from the East Coast, go try on some outerwear, and then buy it one size bigger. Nothing worse than a $600 tech shell on a guy who’s one deep breath from blowing the seams out of it. If you can source gear from the future, however, none of these rules apply. 

Helmets Are Cool?

Short answer: Yes. Wear one.

Flickr / Creative Commons

Long answer: Unless you’re a French mountain guide, a seriously weathered ski instructor (also probably French), or Klaus Obermeyer, you should be wearing a helmet. If you’re Billy “The” Kidd, yes, you may wear your cowboy hat … but only at Steamboat. What’s not to like, anyway? Helmets are warm and—side benefit—they prevent brain damage. Skate-style lids are in fashion. No sunglasses (Dad, really?), no goggles hanging off the back, no “gaper gap,” and no beanie-and-goggles-under-the-helmet unless you’re 17 and killing it in the park (age exceptions granted if you are actually training for X Games). Oh, and if you ever, ever wear it in the car … well, nobody should have to tell you not to wear your helmet in the car, right?

Pick Your Planks

Short answer: Stay within your skill level, for all of us.

Long answer: To prevent humiliation, injury (to yourself and others), and discouragement, use equipment that will help you enjoy and improve at skiing. Shorter skis don’t make you look stupid; tomahawking through the lift line makes you look stupid. Once your skills match your ego, you can step up to those double-wide, triple-titanal 199cm big-mountain boards. That’s if you like being completely spent after one tram lap in less-than-perfect conditions. 

Pick Your Poles

Short answer: The older the better.

Flickr / Creative Commons

Long answer: Unless you’re getting next year’s gear for free (again, congratulations), your pole game is a serious indicator of how dedicated you are to skiing. The rest of your kit can be spotless, but your poles should either be: A. a “borrowed” pair of rentals from the lost-and-found, or B. a 15-year-old pair that have been beaten, chipped, bent, and re-bent to the point that they’re unrecognizable. Mismatching poles is varsity-level, and carbon is for nerds, so stick to good old aluminum. Learn how to pole plant.

No Whining

Seriously. Quit bitching. About the cold, how tired you are, how your skis need wax, how your goggles are fogging, how your boots hurt, how that old injury is bugging you, how little coverage there is, how hungover you are, and how you “just aren’t feeling it today.” Waah! My ears are bleeding. Do you realize how lucky you are? Put a smile on your face and go skiing, sir, or ma’am, or child nearing the age of reason. You’re skiing—you should be having fun.

Don’t Get Too Caught Up

Short answer: Take everything (including the above) with a grain of salt.

Long answer: This is not a serious article. Skiing is not a serious sport, and by that, I mean recreational skiing, not racing or freestyle/freeride competing. The point is to recreate, not to get bent out of shape over someone else’s stupid idea of what skiing “should be.” If everyone played by the rules, there’d be no fat, rockered skis (and as a result I’d be a much worse skier than I am now. You too, I’ll wager.).  While everything you’ve just read is loosely based in some sort of half-assed truth, skiing is about having fun, and being overly concerned with how you look while skiing is the true sign of a beater. At the same time, anyone who says they’re completely immune to the criticism of others is a liar or the Dalai Lama (and we heard he gets pretty worked up about his powder form). So, we’ll continue to offer advice, and if you should decide to follow it, you’ll have the freedom to have fun without worrying that people are laughing at you.

And if you still want to be a beater, here’s how to pull it off at Snowbird:

Snowbird for Beaters