By Cassidy Randall
Let's begin with our first case study: He lives in his Sprinter. He bought an Ikon Pass. He's in his late 30s, touring mountain towns, and hoping this ski bum vision quest leads to a new direction in life.
Peter Pan or emotionally-evolved unicorn? To the modern ski town woman, it's a crucial distinction.
As skiing has evolved from the male-dominated sport it once was, the dating scene has evolved alongside it. Gone is the cliché made famous by so many 80s flicks of the lone female in a ski town, surrounded by dudes "waiting their turn."
The ratio in most mountain towns has evened out in recent years, with an influx of intelligent, adventurous women who own homes, hold down steady, ambitious jobs, and ski hard—women in the market for an emotionally mature relationship beyond just a season of shacking up (which there is absolutely nothing wrong with, of course).
The question is: has the equally famous male cliché—of 35-year-old unemployed ski bums with Peter Pan Syndrome and outsized commitment phobias—also evolved?
Exhaustive research compiled from a range of women across mountains towns was performed in search of the answer (okay, maybe not exhaustive, but exhausting, anyway). It revealed the usual missteps that are inevitable in our small-town dating pools, where 75 percent of the options have already dated your best friend and slept with your neighbor.
In Big Sky, there was an episodes of ghosting so sudden and outrageous that the woman concluded the only logical explanation for the behavior must have been a flare-up of a communicable STD, and so she proceeded to warn all her single friends. Let this be a cautionary tale of failing to articulate yourself.
In Aspen, with found numerous examples of the late-night inebriated ask-out, complete with next-day sober backpedaling:
[12:05am] Him: What're you doing right now?
[1:37am] Him: You up?
[2:05am] Him: Let me take you out sometime.
[9:00am] Him: Oops. My alter ego really likes you, it seems.
[9:05] Her: Um, good morning?
In ski towns back east, in interior B.C., and largely concentrated to the Jackson Hole area, the research showed a recurring reluctance to commit to an actual time and place, let alone a relationships, for fear of prioritizing a date over Powder Days Ferda Boyyyys.
This was occasionally paired with a strategy referred to as "checking the trap lines," i.e. vague communication to keep potential mates on the hook without having to make specific plans: "Heyyyyy, we should get out and ski sometime!"
But all is not lost.
The data also reveals the presence of evolving ski town males roaming the dating scene who prioritize meaningful careers and relationships on par with skiing. Engaging with this species, however, may take some open mindedness on behalf of the interested female.
Take the dedicated Weekend Warrior, for example. He lives in City Close to the Mountains and prioritizes escaping to ski. Having spent the better part of his 20s and early 30s building his career, he might not be as experienced in the mountains; but he's not intimidated by a woman who is.
There's also the born-and-raised Tahoe local who's been single since college, unable to shed his reputation as emotionally unavailable thank to the warp-speed grapevine of rumor communication in small communities—but is actually just shy and ready for a committed relationship.
Back to that #vanlife Ikon Pass holder in case study no. 1. He turned out to be more emotionally mature than most, working remotely along the road to keep money coming in, reading a lot to cut down on wifi use, and with the self-awareness to recognize he wasn’t happy and make change. Assuming he can't possibly be an emotionally evolved option shows that women in ski towns possess just as much capacity for immaturity.
In fact, none of us who live in ski towns are all that emotionally mature in the classic sense, are we? We choose a lifestyle that prioritizes powder skiing over most things well into our 30s and 40s, still drinking one too many après beers while holding onto the persistent belief that poaching the hot tub is always the right move. Lord knows we cannot afford one at home.
So while the ski town dating scene has evolved from the neon-clad clichés of the '80s, to include much more honesty, respect, and communication, how much are any of us, man or woman, really willing to prioritize love when the forecast calls for a foot of fresh?