Ski Tips & Wise Cracks: [BREAKING] Winter Is A-Comin

Remember that thing you love? It’s almost here.

I grew up as a pool rat. That is to say, I spent every single summer day cannonballing, swimming, and playing kickboard tennis at the pool a few blocks from my home. When you grow up in Chicago, summertime is the best time. No school, no rules, and no responsibilities other than checking in at home when the streetlights blink on and arriving on time to the wooden swing for the nightly neighborhood ghost in the graveyard game.

When September hit and school started back up, I would spend months daydreaming of my summer existence. Halloween was a good distraction, because candy, duh. And Thanksgiving helped too, because pie, duh. But it wasn’t until that first snowfall that I felt my neighborhood return to that same carefree wonderland of play. I didn’t start skiing until my twenties, but that’s when I realized that summer would never again dominate my mind as the season of freedom and adventure. In fact, once I became a skier I realized two things: 1.) Skiing is the greatest thing ever. And 2.) Summer totally sucks. Winter is where it’s at.

Have no fear, friends and fellow skiers. Winter is just around the corner. The PNW is already seeing snow. Jackson has been pooped on. Tahoe has seen frigid blankets of white. Colorado has some frosting up high. Ullr is returning, my dudes and dudettes. And winter couldn’t come any sooner. Gourd-themed decorations are swirling about and every single millennial is SnapInstaFaceTwarting about pumpkin spiced leggings or some such junk. Well, you can take your hashtag “holding on to summer” and shove it where the snowflakes don’t glisten. It’s time to ski, pals.

Even Marcus Caston, who’s been skiing all summer, can’t wait to get back to wintertime shredding. “I’ve only had a month out of boots,” says Caston, the muscle-bound, fire hydrant-sized, ponytailed, usually mustached purveyor of hop-turning glory. “I’m excited to travel and see my winter friends. I don’t really like my summer friends. Actually, I’m just kidding. I don’t have any friends. I am excited for the potential to make friends this winter. And eat pizza and other après food. Like, nachos. I miss nachos.” 

Whether a pro or not, most skiers feel a bit uneasy during summer. Caston is excited to return to purpose. He is bored too easily during summer months and feels a bit unlike himself and out of his comfort zone, like an Australian at an event where head-butting is frowned upon (which is most every event). “I’m a skier, man. I have no other skills,” Caston kids. “I don’t know what to do with myself in the summer.”

Caston, is also excited to get back out on the road for the Warren Miller Film tour. 'Why,' you ask? Is it to see himself and other WME athletes shredding the gnarliest of gnar? No, friends, ‘tis not. Is it so he may bring the stoke to skiers far and wide? Possibly, but not that’s not the main reason. Marcus “Thunder Thighs” Caston has a date with a Sharpie or two. Caston explains: “On the WME tour, somewhere during the night when I’m signing posters, well, I stop signing them and start having people sign me. Mostly, they sign my nipples. Typically, all winter long I have Sharpie all over my body. That’s a pretty cool part of winter.”

Just like Caston, Amie Engerbretson is psyched that Old Man Winter is waking from his hibernation. “I’m tired of rosé and salads,” says Engerbretson, the shred queen and avid wintertime hair flipper. “I’m ready for pizza and beer.” Like all skiers, Engerbretson knows that salads are dumb. She also knows that getting mud all over your face and stuck in the fissures of your pearly whites while mountain biking is dumb. Engerbretson can’t protect her trademark ear-to-ear smile during summertime outdoor activities. When she bikes, she picks bugs and trail mud out of her grill for weeks. When she surfs, she guzzles gallons of salty seawater (she also admittedly is a poor swimmer so that could have something to do with it as well). But when she skis, Engerbretson’s smile is polished with every frosty faceshot. “It’s not cool,” she says. “But it’s just what my face does. I just smile.” 

Amie Engerbretson can't hold back an ear-to-ear smile while in Val-d'Isère for Warren Miller's Line of Descent.

Ullr just gives us all a big-ass grin. And while most of us won’t have hordes of ski bums lining up to sign our nipples like Marcus Caston, winter gives every skier a return to that which defines us. Kaylin Richardson, a true Minnesotan, is only happy when the air is cold enough to freeze her nose hairs into snot-covered stalagmites, tiny crystalized nasal spears. McKenna Peterson has spent all summer fishing in Alaska. Right now, she smells like salmon guts and mermaid B.O. Think she’s ready for slash turns, spreadies, and double daffies? You betcha. Winter, man, it’s the best thing going. See ya on the slopes, friends.