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Fake Snow and Fast Skiers MAG
Everyone's so fast. Shooting over the ridge from nowhere, skis landing perfectly parallel and out of sight again right away.
I know those ridges. They're called blind hills, if you're being technical. But approaching from above, it's a cliff. Just a flat line between snow and horizon, a sheet of paper so sharp and white you could cut yourself on the edge. All the ski trails lead over the edge, into the void, and your mind says, Okay, right over there, no worries, there's a hill on the other side, and your subconscious says, STOP! Oh my God, it's a cliff! Stop stop stop!
The cliff doesn't faze other skiers; they pop over the edge like they're shot from a gun. Pop-pop-pop. Or like soap squilping out of wet hands and down, swimming around the drain while you scramble in panic. Funny how you always panic. Soap down the drain, that's not such a big deal, is it? Flying off the side of the mountain, though ….
They're not bothered, effortlessly crosshatching fish scales into the snow on their way down toward a cup of hot chocolate or more sunscreen or a line to go shooting off the cliff again, at what, six hundred miles an hour?
The scales, even crisscrossing lines, are redrawn as another skier swishes around his ski pole and powder flies several feet in a tidal wave, soft and smooth. The snow looks fake, like at the mall where kids sit on the lap of some old fellow with a massive fake beard at Christmas. What do mall Santas do the rest of the year? I can just see one squished in a cubicle, telephone glued to his ear: Hello, this is Joe. Has your water heater been serviced lately?
The snow looks fake. I know I can't say that out loud. There'd be an alarm going off: Tourist alert! Beep! Beep! Tourist alert!
I sat next to a girl from Brazil on the last lift. I thought she was Brazilian, anyway. Her voice was split between the wind and her balaclava. And the bit I got was accented heavily as she informed me it doesn't snow where she lives.
It looks so easy. Their skis are slim, natural extensions of their legs, synchronized to their heartbeat, to their brain waves. Part of them. I bet they walk awkwardly – maybe a little duck-footed – when they're in sneakers like normal people, not sliding down a mountain. Except their normal is sliding down a mountain.
Are they people? Are they like you and me?
They're so fast. All of them. I'd like to be that fast. Perfect form, down the hill, wind so fast my mother would accuse me of slacking off on the sunscreen before I could explain that it's windburn, thank you very much, sending up powder waterfalls behind me, singeing the faces of whomever I've just passed. That girl – when you look up at the big slope – you see and exclaim, Who's that?
Oh, you missed her. She's gone already.
And me, cruising to a stop magnificently at the bottom of the mountain, the wind lessening on my face like it's doing now.
Right, because the lift's stopping. I sit forward in anticipation. Here it comes! Stapled-on skis touch the snow, I shift my weight, and I'm flat on the ground, fallen awkwardly in the powder on top of the bunny hill. F