I've been staying up far too late for the last two weeks watching the Winter Olympics in Vancouver. I love winter sports (having lived in Vermont) and am thrilled to finally have a winter in New York City which has allowed me to get in some skiing in the park, as well as sledding with my kids. Having snow on the ground cheers me up-when it's cold at least it can be bright.
You might not share my love of the white stuff and the cold. What makes people crave outdoor adventures? And what sets athletes apart from the rest of us who dabble in their sport rather than make it a lifelong obsession?
Here are a few questions bumping around in my head:
Do women approach extreme sports differently?
Are they trying to keep up with men, prove they're as good, or is the younger generation who grew up after the feminist movement gender blind and buying into extreme sports for the same reasons as their male counterparts?
And how does all this related to the heroine, Keela, in my story Hot Chocolate Kiss?
For anyone that grows up in the Northeastern United States (like me and Keela) winter sports are a way of life. Kids spend half a day a week while in school in Vermont on the slopes. Parents put them on skis when they walk-and have often carried them in backpacks before that.
Skiing began as a means to get around in the winter, nothing more. Men and women strapped boards to their feet and used one long pole for balance and to help on the uphill climb. Not until skiing (1950s) and snowboarding (late 1980s) became a sport were feet fixed to the skis in special boots.
The birth of skiing in the Northeastern United States is documented in thebtiny New England Ski Museum at the foot of Cannon Mountain in Franconia, New Hampshire (there is a rock formation at the summit which looks like a cannon).
Just down the road, in Sugar Hill, New Hampshire a plaque commemorates the site of Peckett's Inn where Nordic skiing mutated to what is now known as alpine skiing, bindings that hold the entire foot onto the ski. Norpine skiing, or telemarking is a holdover variant where the heel of the boot can be released when ascending (think cross country) and fastened when descending.
The tradition of hiking up the mountain and skiing down instead of using automated lifts still continues on the other side of the Presidential Range where a hardy and fit bunch (some call us nuts) hike from Pinkham Notch, NH, from a base camp run by the Appalachian Mountain Club, nearly to the summit of Mount Washington (which is legendary for its wild, wicked, unpredictable weather).
We wear hiking boots and carry their skis, boots, and poles, plus essential camping and survival equipment to a bowl known as Tuckerman Ravine.
The headwall of the ravine is almost a sheer drop, so this is not for the amateur skier or hiker. In addition, the severe weather which can blow in at a moments notice has claimed more than a few lives by disorienting the hikers/skiers and exposing them to extreme wind chills. There is so much snow that the risk of avalanche exists, as well as rock slides during times of thaw.
Keela and I are far from Olympians: not good or not driven or not crazy enough to push the limits.
So, now you know the background. Please ask Keela any questions you might have about why she took the risks she did--braving the extreme weather to prove herself and pull out of a particularly troubling emotional state.
She's shy, but getting used to the limelight, as well as the fact that she has been getting in touch with her new paranormal abilities and met a hot guy with whom she'll be sharing more extreme adventures.
The conversation with Keela started on Andrew Richardson's Blogand will continue March 3 with Annie Alvarez. And it will be ongoing, with Rick included in the fun, on my website forums.
There will be prizes!