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Needing Mr. Miyagi

February 21, 2012

Anyone who has ever been to ski slopes may have experienced small, pint-sized, infant skiers buzzing down the hills.  As a veteran skier of 18-years, I proudly proclaim that I was once one of these daring children.  However, I learned this past weekend that through the years I have lost this fearlessness when I was challenged to try snowboarding.  I would love to boast that my first run was very similar to this video, but the aching of my entire body keeps me truthful as if to say, “Ha!  You wish, Meg!”

Several times I met the side of the mountain and regardless of the many parts of my body that hit, the solid surface was resilient to my attacks; in fact, the bruises that continue to surface would argue that it fought back with increasing firmness.  The absence of soft, powdery snow brought my awareness to this season’s lack of typical winter weather, and it drew my attention to the resort’s snow-making cannons. 

Distracted from my pains, I watched the artificial snow spray onto the iced mountainside.  I wondered how many resources went into this process.  I knew the cannons themselves were certain to be a large investment and the energy, water, and dirt mix-ins to make snow probably were costly and influential on the environment.  Coincidentally, this New York Times article was published the day before.  It mentions the high cost of snow making, and it briefly acknowledges its environmental implications.

Seeing the cannons, reminded me of a water resource management course I took that enlightened me to the many Americans that have not recognized the importance of water conservation.  I understand that snow-centered resorts rely on this frozen precipitation for business, but is there another method of producing it that does not depend on precious groundwater or other sensitive reservoirs?  Recycled wastewater has been considered for this process, but it is not widely accepted and far from popular.  Many ski areas are also considering other “greening” methods to combat the snow melt.  Despite these I feel that snow may soon become something that will exist only in stories.

Nonetheless, I am faced with a challenge: snowboarding.  I am not one to succumb to challenges, and I am determined to conquer this one.  Yet, the shortage of snow complicates and adds a sense of urgency to my mastery of the sport.  My body achingly urges me to forget it because global warming could hinder long-term snowboarding.  It encourages me to stick with my stable skis, but my mind and heart are driven and stubborn and refuse to give up.

Practice and time will strengthen my ability to snowboard.  I figure that I could parallel my progress with the people I encourage to practice their ability to live more sustainably.  Maybe with enough dedicated people we can positively affect the environment and allow it to have a reprieve from its numerous bruises and beatings.  Hopefully this will enable my pains to diminish but not the season’s snow.

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