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Labun: Imperfect Conditions

I’ll ski over almost anything. I figure I need about a 60:40 snow to mud ratio. Or snow to ice. Snow to puddles gets a little tricky. But I’ll ski around corn stalk stubble when it starts reemerging in fields. I’m working on my ability to jump over obstacles and it’s not graceful - but at least it’s usually forward momentum.

This is Nordic skiing of course. I’m less familiar with downhill, but I understand they’ve got altitude, snow-making at that altitude, and chair lifts to carry people over mud bogs if necessary, so I think they’re fairly well prepared for rough patches.

My point is that skiing-wise, Vermonters don’t give up.

Our snow may be questionable some years - and some months - and it may get more so with climate change - but then there’s always a time of year in Vermont when ski season comes to an end even though many of us fight that inevitability every spring. June skiing - that’s my ultimate goal. Which leads to the obvious question: So, when is someone going to invent a ski for any terrain and any cover, be it snow, mud, ice, grass, leaves, fields, forest floor, or otherwise?

I’m not asking for a lot. It doesn’t have to be great mud skiing. If it’s an acquired taste - fine. Acquiring a taste for even basic skiing took me almost twenty years of dedicated effort - mostly by my parents - who put me on skis the instant I learned to walk. People eventually come around to new sports concepts.

And I can understand how some engineers might have other ambitions - lifesaving medical equipment, for example - but maybe we could borrow a few of the engineers already focused on toys?

There seem to be a lot of them working away on toy drones, video game extravaganzas, and the latest in virtual reality advances – like speakers that create their own listening environment, and screens that create their own viewing environment. So how about creating more toys that give us more time to enjoy the outdoor environment that’s already here? I don’t want to hover above it or race through it or change its soundtrack . . . I’m just suggesting a half step beyond putting on boots and going for a walk. I’d like to glide a little more and plod a little less - a reasonable scientific advance.

I know it will happen. In the meantime I’ll keep making the most of any and all skiing conditions.

Helen Labun has worked in Vermont nonprofits addressing issues in rural economic development. Today, she is Executive Director of the Vermont Fresh Network, connecting chefs to Vermont farmers in support of the local food economy.
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