Ski Guru

The downsides to chasing gates


Sidelined at a recent high school ski race, it dawned on me how ridiculous racing is.

All the downsides of downhill skiing are essential aspects of alpine racing. Let’s see, you wait at the top of the mountain while others ski, then wait some more in anticipate of your turn. Then you ski in the same icy rutted trenches as everyone else as the gates dictate.

Did I mention that you have stripped off your warm, winter jacket, and are now embarrassingly underdressed for the elements in thin, tight, stretchy, unflattering lycra one-piece suits in neon colors? Body armor and gate whacking, gee the fun keeps coming, helps you win.


So you skid and scrape and skate and tuck your way toward the finish with no time to take in the view of the particular venue. It could be Wachussett or Whistler, you aren’t exploring the unique terrain of that resort, just the race hill.

You fly across the finish line and wait  – this time for your time which is the sole criteria of your skiing. No style points or good attitude marks are awarded. Odds are in your favor that you will eventually injure your ACL or MCL. If you are lucky, and don’t DNF (read: crash), then you get to go do it again, taking two runs while others on the mountain are bagging bountiful vertical on their trails of choice.

OK, I’m not a complete gate-hater (I know the camaraderie and discipline that develop with racing). I’m just glad my kids are finished chasing sticks on stellar ski days. For all you gatekeeper moms and dads sidelined and standing in the cold, I will wave to you when we ski by.

Photo by Greg Burke For more of Heather’s family ski tips go to


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