PHOTO: Re Wikstrom
PHOTO: Re Wikstrom

Being The Slowest Skier is Very Important

Being the last one down—or up—the mountain is not a job for the weak

PHOTO: Re Wikstrom

A recent ski trip to Alta, Utah, confirmed what I've always suspected: I am not a fast skier. The more people I ski with, the more evidence I have to support the belief that I fill a very important role: The Slowest Skier.

Being The Slowest Skier is a position that must be filled in every ski posse, though few are willing and less are able. It requires a level of commitment, stamina, and sacrifice unfamiliar to Fast People. Those of us fulfilling this anointed calling provide an important service to our fellow skiers and should feel no shame.

Primarily, Fast People are known to physically exert themselves to the point of exhaustion in their effort to be first down the mountain. These poor dears are in need of rest, yet often unwilling to allow themselves the time if not forced to wait for The Slowest Skier. No need to thank me for the extra time to catch your breath; you're welcome.

Often, The Slowest Skier is also the most existential of the group because while the group flies ahead up the skin track, The Slowest Skier is left alone to contemplate thoughts like, "Why skiing; why uphill? Why not golf?" Or, “If I just laid down right here in the snow, how long would it take me to freeze, putting an end to this madness?”

Additionally, as social media continues to dictate our value as people, documenting every single turn, snowflake, and scenic landscape of the ski day is not something Fast People will likely have time to do in light of their speedy pursuits. This mounting responsibility then falls to The Slowest Skier, who during any one of our mid-run or mid-hike stops will have adequate time to digitally record the day. Everyone is waiting for you anyway; what's a few more minutes to 'gram the goods, securing likes and followers, while upping the street cred of the entire group? Your service and sacrifice, Slow One, is commendable.

Finally, someone who truly excels as The Slowest Skier often provides a wealth of comic relief in the very somber and serious sport of skiing. The surest way to deflect one's own feelings of inadequacy for meager speed is to rejoin the group with a witty remark or a joke at the ready. Here are a couple we recommend (NSFW). The more self-deprecating, the more you relieve Fast People of guilt for their hastiness. Aim high.

This is important because when Fast People you ski with don't feel guilty, they will often be kind and encouraging—looking down at you from the summit where everyone is waiting… still waiting; cheering you up the bootpack with patronizing enthusiasm. If you, like me, grew up in the Participation Ribbon era, being applauded for this sort of last place performance is not only comforting, it is expected.

The next time you’re ripping groomers at mach speed or charging up the boot pack, stop and think of others first. As a wise friend once told me, “Last one down is awesome.”