Episode 204: Examining Skiing, with Love

INTERVIEW WITH HEATHER HANSMAN & TORI DUHAIME

Journalist Heather Hansman digs deep into the past, present, and future of skiing in her new book Powder Days. Her love for the sport leaps off the pages, but that doesn’t stop her from looking at skiing through a critical lens as she explores its challenges and triumphs across an expanse of timely subjects: climate, accessibility, culture, and more.

We’re joined from the side of a ski hill by Tori Duhaime for this episode. Tori’s a lifelong skier and it’s the sport they choose above all else. While they grew up skiing in Durango, CO, Tori’s a recent transplant to Richmond, VA and has a newfound love for mom & pop ski hills that are found back east. Reading Powder Days got her fired up about a sport she wants to make more accessible for everyone to experience

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Featured in this episode: Heather Hansman & Tori Duhaime

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Heather Hansman

Tori Duhaime

The book: Powder Days

Veteran ski journalist and former ski bum Heather Hansman takes readers on an exhilarating journey into the hidden history of American skiing, offering a glimpse into an underexplored subculture from the perspective of a true insider. Hopping from Vermont to Colorado, Montana to West Virginia, Hansman profiles the people who have built their lives around a cold-weather obsession. Along the way she reckons with skiing’s problematic elements and investigates how the sport is evolving in the face of the existential threat of climate change.” (Goodreads)

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TRANSCRIPT

Note: This transcript was lightly edited and created using a transcription service. As such it may contain spelling errors.

Gale Straub – Narration:

I’m Gale Straub and you’re listening to She Explores.

Gale Straub:

Tori might try to jump on later. So hopefully that’s not too jar if that happens, but that’s great. I do love that she was hoping to dial in like from a mountain.

Heather Hansman:

That seems perfect.

Gale Straub:

Okay. So, uh, the really quick and easy first question is if you could just share your name, um, your pronouns and any other identifiers that you wanna share.

Heather Hansman:

Um, my name’s Heather, Hansman my pronouns. Are she and her? And what, what do people say for identifying factors?

Gale Straub:

Do you call yourself a, a journalist?

Heather Hansman:

Yeah. Yeah. I, I actually stumble with that question a little bit. Cause I don’t know what the, I think it’s so hard when you’re you work for yourself to kind of like decide what bucket you fit into. So I say, yeah, I say I’m a journalist. I say, I’m a writer. I think I can say that I’m an author. That’s like a funny one to be like, when do you, when do you claim that? Yeah, I’m a writer.

Gale Straub – Narration:

I’d say writer sums up Heather Hansman pretty darn well. She’s very much an author too. We last had Heather on She Explores back in 2019 to talk about her first book, Downriver. In it, she paddled down the Green River to research water in the west. It was part adventure memoir, part investigative journalism as she made sense of the people, flora, and fauna that depend on the river’s waters. This time around, we’re talking about Heather’s latest book, Powder Days, which digs deep into the past, present, and future of skiing. Both books benefit from her personal experiences switching off between working ski mountains in the winter and being a river guide in teh summer:

Heather Hansman:

Did I spend my thirties writing about things in my twenties? Like, what am I gonna do next?

Gale Straub:

Just an infinity mirror.

Heather Hansman:

I know. Yeah. Need a Newick maybe you do need a little bit of distance to be able to really kind of like dig into those. I think it takes time to kind of sit with those issues and sit with like the kind of complicated feelings about that to really, they kind of unpack them. And I think like the interesting thing about like putting a book together is that it takes so much speaking and processing and compressing and funneling to like come to the final process. So I think a lot of these stones were things that had been sitting there for a long time. And that’s actually like one of the things that I love the most about reporting and writing and this the is the coolest is that you kind of get this permission to dig into these things that you have to push into like a deeper level.

Gale Straub – Narration:

Not only has writing Powder Days given Heather permission to dig deep on subjects like skiing culture, the extreme wealth divides of ski towns, who gets to access skiing, climate change, and more – Powder Day’s existence allows anyone who opens its binding to dig deeper. Heather says that it’s a book filled with questions that begets more questions. Which helps generate conversation. And that’s what this episode is today. My teammate Tori Duhaime (she/they), who you usually hear on podcast ads or behind the scenes on our Instagram, got really charged up after she read the book. Ask Tori about skiing and they’ll say that “skiing is everything to them.” Tori grew up in Durango, CO, where she learned to ski at Purgatory, often with a gaggle of dudes while her parents volunteered at guest services every weekend to secure their season passes. Later, she started backcountry skiing in the San Juans with their dad. Recently, Tori moved to Richmond, VA and has found a new love for independently owned resorts. She’ll actually join us on this interview later from Snowshoe Mountain in West Virginia. One, i couldn’t pass up the opportunity for us to join us for a conversation about skiing from the ski hill. But two, and more importantly, Tori is wildly passionate about changing the ski community for the better. But in the parallel universe of this interview, Tori was still finding reception. And I started off by asking Heather about her early experiences skiing.

Gale Straub:

Do you remember your first time going to a ski hill?

Heather Hansman:

I don’t remember my first time. I have a pretty clear memory of when I was, you have to miss him at six. I fell and broke my thumb. When I was a kid, I was ski with my dad and he had taken me down a black diamond that I wasn’t supposed to go down cuz the trail that he wanted to take us down was closed. Um, and so I was very clear memory of like being in the clinic at the bottom of the ski hill and my mom being really frustrated with my dad. But yeah, I don’t have a like super clear initial memory. My family, I grew up in new England, my family sort like casually skied all growing up, but I got really hooked into it in high school cuz my high school had a really good kind of easy pee for free ski club.

Gale Straub:

Mm oh you could ski for free, but the ski club,

Heather Hansman:

They had what was called the bagel bunch. And if you sold Baals at the bagel bench, you got to, you basically like made money for ski trips. So that was one of my like high school, high school things. Um, and other than that it was, I think it was like 40 bucks or something to, if you wanted a ski and you got a bus up to mountain and you got rentals and you got lessons and you got the whole shipping. So it was a really good, I mean regardless of three year, a four, a really, really good deal.

Gale Straub:

Hmm. Yeah. Yeah. I also grew up in new England, so I also have those ski wasn’t my life memories, but we would go every now and then, and also had night skiing. I remember doing night skiing in high school at like pads peak, which is a pretty, pretty small mountain, but it was fun. It was fun. It’s uh, hard for me to wrap my head around the idea of, of the ski bum or the, the kind of dream of at west. I never, I never experienced that myself, but have definitely felt very, very cold on a mountain before so I can relate to that

Heather Hansman:

Somewhat universal.

Gale Straub:

Yeah. Yeah. True. I would love to hear a little bit about how, how it feels when you’re skiing in it and it feels right. Would you be able to describe that for me?

Heather Hansman:

Oh, Gail. That’s like the hardest part. I think that’s why that’s the hard part writing or talking about any kind of physical activity I think is that like the words it’s really hard to figure out the right words and explain it without feeling cheesy or overwrought or flowery or that kind of thing. Mm. But I think one of the things that somebody told me at some point in the, the reporting on this is that they think a lot about gravity. And I think in skiing more than anything, I’ve never, you know, jumped out of airplane or anything like that. But I think in more than anything else that I know of, you get to sort of like not abide by the rules of gravity and there’s this sort of like maybe surfing maybe sometime when you’re like riding a bike downhill at or something like that. But there is this sort of like, you’re not quite playing by the rules of physics element of it. And you’re floating that I think is really hard to get anywhere else.

Gale Straub:

Yeah. Is there a kind of gravity that you’ve experienced in your life that has taken you towards this like ski culture or that lifestyle? Like, could you describe the gravitational pull that you need to think about? It’s a different way, but like thinking about the planets yeah. And the way that you kind of fell into skiing.

Heather Hansman:

Yeah. Yeah. I think, and I think that kind of pull, you know, one of the things that for myself and sort of like in thinking about this book, obsession is one of those things that I’m really fascinated by and like why people get obsessed with something and why something as sort of like, you know, like arbitrary skiing can become this thing that becomes gravitational pull of your life. For me, there’s sort of this element, this physical element where it feels really good and you’re outside. And there’s also a piece where you’re like connected to people and plug a new community and you’re kind of pushing limit and there’s this like real, I don’t know if adrenaline’s exactly the right word, but there’s this like way of sort of like pushing yourself and testing yourself. And so in a lot of ways that seeing thing for me initially, especially was like sort of this framework to fit all these pieces that felt important in that it was sort of like me pushing and testing myself. It was a way to like, feel like I was, something was a way to be outside. It was sort of like this, maybe like a little too tidy container for all that stuff. But I think there were a lot of, a lot of things that I was looking for and a lot of things that I didn’t even know that I wanted that ski initially let me kind of access.

Gale Straub:

Mm. And when did you start to think about some of the, a problematic aspects of, of skiing because you know, powder days is a book that covers a lot of different topics and it’s really complex. It’s like super intersectional, you know, and I think that one of the things that I’m excited to talk to you about is the way that, you know, with pretty much everything we do with outdoor recreation, there is, there are these like multiple truths that we need to hold about the things that we love. Um, so I’m curious when, when you started thinking about some of the aspects of, of ski skiing and ski culture, that didn’t always feel as good or didn’t always feel the same as like, like that great feeling that you get when you’re, when you’re going down the mountain.

Heather Hansman:

Yeah. I think the, the good feelings can often be really fleeting, the hard people, a little more baseline and solid. I think, I dunno what the like very first chin in that was, but I know when I was starting to work on this book, I went back and kind of read a lot of the journals that I had been keeping when I was know 21 and right outta college and move to the mountains for the first time. And it’s funny kind of looking back on it. It’s so easy to tell this story. That’s like, oh, it was the best thing ever. All we did whiskey all the time and hang out with my friends. And we were just like adventure, adventure, adventure, and going back and reading kind of what I was actually thinking at that time, I was sort of like anxious and insecure and worried that I didn’t fit in and worried about, you know, like jobs and money and what I was gonna do next.

Heather Hansman:

And there was this kind of like under, and like maybe I’m just sort of an anxious person anyway, but there was this kind of like underlying level of, of instability that felt present even when I was 21 and objectively didn’t have a ton to worry about besides supporting myself and taking care of myself. And then, and I’ve been working, I worked kinda after I did the dirtbag thing, I worked in P magazines. And when you’re trying to kind of cover stories on that and report on that to try and tell stories that are more interesting than just like, here’s a cool adventure, which I think is like inherently not that interesting of the story, I would agree. You’re yeah. You’re kinda, which is like a trope about writing about the outdoor world that we can talk about. But I think that in starting to dig into that, you, you start to see the cracks fairly quickly.

Heather Hansman:

I mean, I think that sort of, even though when you talk about like the quote unquote E bomb, which is like a phrase that I think can be sort of is a little cheesy, there is this sort of narrative that it’s like this person who’s like living below the surface and breaking the rules and like slamming by. And it’s sort like if you even just unpack that and you’re like, where does that come from? Who gets to do that? The first place, there’s some heavy levels of privilege and economic leveling and access, even in that sort of like base idea of who, who the most obsess is here might be. And then I think like, you know, I kind of wash outta mountain towns for like, I don’t know if you would call it a real job, but like something different to be a journalist.

Heather Hansman:

And in watching my friends who kind of, it’s almost like the sliding doors aspect of your own life, where it’s like, what if I had stayed in mense patrol or something like that, watching kind of like my peer group grow up and try to buy houses, haven’t have kids and be real people in these highly elite exclusive towns and then deal with less deal with climate change impacting their lives, like watching those sort of real life factors. If you try and grow up in this fantasy land, I think, and to try and kind of like align the reality with the idea, I think is sort of this like core thread that weaves through the book. And also just like weave through the way I am, like thinking about the world and trying, trying to grow up.

Gale Straub:

And one of the, the things that I loved talking with Tori about your book in preparation for this interview was the fact that for her reading, the book made her want to ask even more questions about, about the ski industry, about ski culture. So one of the things that we were curious about was there’s a gap between you write a book and it, it gets released. I’ve published a book and had it, it took a year between like when I finished it and like when it came out. And so even in that time period, I had learned a lot thought maybe differently about certain things, certain things were in print that maybe I was like, maybe I would’ve that if there’s like another addition or something. Uh, but we were curious if there was anything that you felt like you, you left out of the book that you wished you’d included, you know, when we think about these different topics of, uh, ski culture, access climate.

Heather Hansman:

Yeah. Yeah. I mean, so much of this is kind of a moving target too. You know, the timing for books is funny. I had a first draft of this, like January 20, 20, and then COVID hit. And I mean, first of all, I was like, oh my God, is anyone gonna read, wanna read about skiing? This self centered is not something worth talking about, but in a lot of ways COVID has really sort of exacerbated a lot of the issues that we’re in the, in the book, in that, you know, we kinda have this like zoom boom of people moving people who are all of a sudden untethered from their jobs who can be anywhere who wanna move to the mountains and that bumps up real estate prices that sort of shift the knob on who can live in these places. And so there are just these kind of like crowding and like in the, of face with that, I think, I know, I think a lot of people have like really wanted or craved or needed to be outside more when we’re in a pandemic and can’t interact the way we used to.

Heather Hansman:

So I think that that sort of like desire for, and the kind of like ability of who can do this thing, who has the economic capital or the ability or the flexibility to do. It has really pressurized a lot of these questions. And I think that, like what you were saying earlier about like you come in with more questions, I feel like I, you write a book and people are like, what’s the, what’s the, you know, what’s the takeaway. And for me, it’s like, there’s not, I, I almost came out with more questions than I went in with. And I think that to that is like, there’s not one answer answer, or there’s not one like switch. We can slip to be like, okay, here, let’s like open up the channels of access to this super elite sport. Or like, if we do this, there will be snow forever.

Heather Hansman:

Like none of these things are super easy, but yeah, I think that, I think that it’s kind of a changing the framework is constantly change changing. A lot of these questions have been like even more pressurized as we’ve gone into it. I do think the, kind of the, the section that I feel like I didn’t dig into as much as I could have, or I can to wish that, I mean, and this could also be a whole book on its own, but just like who gets to be a ski who has access, what are the barriers around, especially around race and physical ability. And I think this, when we say like Skiba, the archetype is such a, and you look at media for 50 years, the archetype is such a white privileged, straight able bodied, cisgender dude. And to even like break down that kind of representation is such an important kind of line in, I think, and even just to break down that kind of like, what does a ski look like archetype? And then also what are the actual pathways to getting I, people who don’t have those levels of privilege into the sport, I think is a really, really complicated and also a really important question.

Heather Hansman:

People, you know, will and do and continue to dig into for if we want this thing to keep existing.

Gale Straub:

Yeah. Yeah, totally agree. Um, and I know I saw, I saw Tori try to jump in. I don’t think it’s be possible.

Tori Duhaime:

Uh, I’m here and I can hear you all, but I don’t know if I come across clear enough, I have run all over the mountain trying to find clear wifi. And the ski school lady is letting me like hunker down. So I’m not out in MC I, but if it doesn’t, if it doesn’t work, I don’t wanna mess up the entire

Gale Straub:

Now, you know, Tori, you sound good. I think this could be a first for, she explores, we’ve got like a live reporter coming 20 minutes into the conversation.

Heather Hansman:

Be perfect. Like, I think this is how it should be.

Tori Duhaime:

I mean, I just like ripped down a random back dirt road in West Virginia with a non-alcoholic demo, free beer in my hand.

Heather Hansman:

Oh my God.

Tori Duhaime:

I feel like I’m just adding to the potential authentication of the ski BU lifestyle.

Gale Straub:

Oh yeah. This is the future of skiing right here. No alcohol and West Virginia. Yeah.

Heather Hansman:

Yeah.

Gale Straub – Narration:

Okay. Now that Tory’s here, the conversation can really get started after a quick break.

Gale Straub – Narration:

We’re back before the break. And before Tori joined us, Heather had talked about some of the areas she wished she could have dug deeper into the book around representation, which was a perfect segue to a question Tori had around language.

Tori Duhaime:

I’m very curious about just some of the, the barriers that we have created, especially around the idea of who belongs in who doesn’t and through reading, especially around the conversation of Aspen and cloud nine, and some of the, the more like elite ways of engaging with skiing. I was thinking about how we’ve potentially taken that need to reject the elite in some ways and how that’s actually then perpetuated the way that we, we also mock all wrongfully. So those who are, who are still just gaining access and the way that, like the idea of the gaper somewhat started from the mocking of elite. And yet now it’s turned into being a barrier for, for low income entry and, and what have you. And that there’s this kind of interesting way in which we, we utilize language and, and appeal and apparel to gate keep. And yet it, it’s actually sort of this weird middle ground that we are projecting onto both other ends of the spectrum. If that makes sense.

Heather Hansman:

Yeah. Yeah. So is it being like high school, basically a question it’s Like,

Gale Straub :

I thought the same thing that was Victoria, I was like, this feels very high school.

Heather Hansman:

Yeah. Yeah. But I think that’s like, that’s a really perceptive way of thinking about it, I think. And that there is this insider outsider. It, but I think is true. Like, I’ve felt that in surfing, like I think there’s many sort of places where that can kind of show up, but I think in skiing, especially cuz there is this financial barrier to entry too, that there is this sort of like inside, I, I felt this and seen this where like, and even when I was like, can lift tickets on the mountain, we would see these like fancy people show up at the RITs with their helmet on backwards. And you’re like, oh, look at that, Jerry. He doesn’t know what’s going on. So I think there’s a, there’s a level at which it’s sort of like hard line, but also not obvious, like very sort of like socially encoded inside, outside aspect of this that I think is really problematic.

Heather Hansman:

And I think that, yeah, I think you’re right. And that maybe it did initially come from this, like, Hey, this is my town where the locals, I wanna make sure. Or like, you can’t just buy your way into this thing. But I think there is, it, it has become, and probably always was this way to gate, keep people who weren’t in any kind of like exclusive community. You actually said this better than I did in the beginning. But like there, it has become this way of using year of using skill of using access to keep people out or to kind of like, like Jerry of the day, you have these Instagram accounts where you see like, you make fun of the cos. And I think that that sort of like a hard line of saying like, Hey, I’m in and you’re out in a way that’s highly, highly, highly exclusive. And also like I was talking about, did you guys ever listen to the Adam bounds podcast with Adam Jer? He’s another, he’s like a Massachusetts guy.

Gale Straub :

Tori does,

Tori Duhaime:

I’ve listened to, I’ve actually listened to more of big stick energy. The, the one led

Heather Hansman:

By to yeah, the women’s

Tori Duhaime:

One. Yeah, exactly.

Heather Hansman:

Yeah. But Adam’s Palestinian. He has this, like one of his things is like, Hey, I have this like whole group of family and people and like community that I wanna bring in and the barrier to entry of even getting them on give gear is so high and hard. And he’s like, he’s telling me the story about like taking his uncle of skiing. And he was like, it wasn’t my uncle. And he didn’t have me to like tell him what size boots he needed and what like what year he wanted. There’s like no way he would’ve gotten in and had a good time. So I think that like that step can be so hard even in just like the knowledge aspect and in the access to gear, knowing where to go, knowing how to hold your skis. Like there’s so many, these sort of like levels of coding that are hard to break through and then to have the people on the inside be and judgey and be posting pictures on the internet, making fun of it just like adds this other barrier to entry. And I think, yeah, that’s kind of question of how did that an exclusivity flip from punching up to punching down? I don’t know if that was, if there’s like a clear line on that or if there was always making fun of the whoever it might be, but I think it is. I think it’s definitely there. I think it’s definitely problematic.

Tori Duhaime:

So I actually grew up in the San Juans myself. And so I, I, oh, nice. The end, which I managed to read just last night before today, which was just a lovely little cherry on top. For me personally, it’s been so interesting since moving out to the Mid-Atlantic where skiing is just a very different type of accessibility and the ways that it’s actually had to put me in front of my, my own, uh, perspectives and some of those, those biases that I’ve absolutely perpetuated because you see such a different range of diversity and even just in income levels and sport levels. And I feel like out west, everybody in their mother was like trying to go pro and it’s been, it’s been really cool to people simply enjoying the sport because so much of that is something that I’ve perpetuated. And I think that’s one of the losses of the ski bum is that the pro model is in a way making it so that we, if you start to become well skilled and skiing, you almost lose sight of simply enjoying it because there’s a pro model to look towards or possibly monetize this thing that we just enjoy doing.

Tori Duhaime:

And I love seeing people just enjoy doing the sport again.

Heather Hansman:

Yeah. I think there’s, there’s so much tied up in that. And I think part of that is outside expectations and social media and how you’re seeing it presented to you by your peer group and other people. But I think that that question of like, what is skewing for like, do we all need to be going, do we all need to be sponsored athletes? Do we all need to be constantly pushing at like the upper level of what it might be? I think it’s such a, I mean, that’s something that I have struggled with too, where it’s like, you know, I like I’ve had ski days where I’ve like ski around, you know, for a story or something and skied around as athletes and been like got in the worst gear in the entire world. This sucks. And you’re like, wait a second. What’s your baseline?

Heather Hansman:

What’s the point of this? And I was in during a couple weeks of a skiing with a friend who has a, has a young kid. And she was kind of lamenting that, where she was like her, her kid’s three. And she was like, I feel like we should be getting her at skiing cuz everyone else around us has their kids been on ski since they were one and a half. And like, are we doing it wrong? And it’s like, and no, if you don’t feel like it, if your kid’s not into it, why, why is there this like constant achievement level for something that’s like recreational and for most people like can and should, and is only recreational and should be something that just like is fun and joyful. There is a level, I think, where one of the appealing things about skiing is kind of pushing it and kind of like seeing what your body can do and what your brain can do. But I think that that’s not the only part of it. And I think if you’re always chasing that it can be dangerous physically and mentally, and it also can be a way to like drive yourself crazy and not enjoy it. And like what’s the point of that in any aspect?

Tori Duhaime:

Totally.

Gale Straub :

Well, I’m gonna steal one of Tori’s questions because I wanna kind of allude back to Heather when you were answering the question about, uh, language, you used the phrase locals or like locals don’t do this, or so what do you think of as the definition of, of locals for these mountains?

Heather Hansman:

Yeah. I mean, I think that is, that can be load question in a lot of ways, but I think for me, it’s like, okay, who are the people who are living and working in this town who are then supporting the economy or supporting the function of like this being, I think that’s another one of those sort of like gatekeepery questions talking to, I think I was in telled and someone’s like, oh yeah, you know, like I’ve lived here for 30 years. So in another 30 I can call myself a local. And so I think is the sort of like you and I felt like that when I first moved to PE towns, like the first season I was there, the people who have been there for a while are like super, super skeptical and are like, I’m not gonna, I’m not gonna take the time to make friends with you.

Heather Hansman:

Cause like you’re probably gonna be gone soon. And then after you stick around for summer and another winter people are like, oh, okay, you’re you’re here. I can like be of you the time of day, which I think is sort of a defense mechanism in these places that can be really transient and really mobile. But I think that like in the framework of like, how do we take care of locals in Ky town and how do we hold onto a local community? I think it is that like, okay, who are the people who are like working the jobs here, who are the key instructors and the patrollers, but also who are the teachers who are the doctor, you know, like who are the people that kind of like support the local functions? And like I was saying, I was in Jackson last week and one of my good friends used to work for the newspaper there.

Heather Hansman:

And he was on this journalism panel that I went to and they were talking about that kind of issue of like, how do we, it’s gotten so economically divided there. Housing is such a big issue that it’s just like pushing, pushing the people who work, the kind of jobs that support those towns out of town, out of the valley, like the radius is just getting bigger and he was kind of saying, he was like, I just feel really worried about this community, cuz like there might be a point where like the only people who can afford to live here are second homeowners or people coming in from other places and you lose that sort of local ecosystem of people who actually depend on the depend on the town. So I think that that who is a local, I think we can drill it down just to be in like the people who are like part of the, I say ecosystem will, I don’t know if that’s like exactly the right word, but that kind of like world that makes a place work. Hmm.

Tori Duhaime:

It’s also interest. I sometimes I think of like city hall in a future of a town of only second homeowners and what’s it look like to have to have a community that’s not able to be actively the present for the, the future planning and the, the city structures systemically. And I mean, there’s also this sort of deeply heartbreaking mirroring of the displacement of indigenous people in this conversation as we talk about the, the loss of, of who’s considered local and that, you know, localization is also in and of itself of a displacement.

Heather Hansman:

Yeah. Yeah. Like who’s, if it kind of gets back to that language question of like, who is the one defining what that means and who has the power to kind of like put the framework around it. Yeah, totally. But I think it is that, that, that of like, okay, who’s gonna be making the decisions to replace who gets to kind of chart out what the, what the future looks like. And I think that’s one of my big takeaways in this. Or like we talked earlier about like, what are the lessons for that? Like what comes out of it? And I think one of the kind of like questions or things that I’m chewing on is this on Chandler who’s the head of sustainability at Aspen kind of told this thing where he was like ski bombing is sort of like historically and essentially anti citizenship where there’s this like, idea that you’re kind of like working under the system and you’re not paying for anything.

Heather Hansman:

And you’re like skating by and he’s like, that’s not sustainable. And like, if you want this thing to exist and to like, you know, whatever that thing, you know, seeing no, whatever the thing is, you have to engage with it and you can’t just be like, you can’t be off at change if you’re not engaging with it. And there are a lot of really, that’s an oversimplification, there are a lot of really big economic power structure factors going into that. But that to me has been one of my things. It’s like, okay, we grown up now. Like if you want this thing to try and be good or to try and change in the way they want, like you have to engage with it and you have to work on that and you have to show up and vote and go to city council meetings and put things on the table. Like you can’t just kind of turn your hands up and be like, well, this sucks. I don’t like how this is going. And I think that that’s like that runs counter to this kind of like dirtbag beating the system ethos. But if it’s gonna continue to exist, like we have to evolve that way.

Gale Straub :

Absolutely. Tori, do you have anything to add there?

Tori Duhaime:

No, I I’ve sort of lost out on the tail end of that, but it sounds like it was very well, um,

Tori Duhaime:

Teased out,

Heather Hansman:

Go vote,

Gale Straub :

Go vote. Yeah,

Tori Duhaime:

Exactly, exactly. I think one of the really interesting things that you started to touch on at the end, and I think you maybe grazed over it. I think in this conversation is the, the sort of obsession with like the, the first ascent and the mirroring of that possibly turning into who, who ends up getting the last ascent. Like that was a, that was a hard statement to read. Uh, as things started to wrap up in, in the book, I guess I’m curious, I, I don’t know if you’ve gotten to talk too much in the climate realm yet in this conversation before I got here,

Gale Straub :

Haven’t touched a, it actually that we might not get to and that’s OK. Stay

Heather Hansman:

Down for another hour.

Gale Straub – Narration:

Yeah.

Tori Duhaime:

Um, but I think that’s such an interesting mentality because there’s also, I mean, there’s already in and of itself some like problematic nature in being obsessed with like, even the idea that any of us could have first a sense as if there’s there weren’t people climbing these mountains before skiing or what have you. But regardless like it’s, it’s such an interesting concept to try and process climate change in the con context of culture this way. But I, I don’t know. I guess I’m kind of curious for you to elaborate on that idea of that full circle first to final ascent descent.

Heather Hansman:

One of the things, but like I thought about a lot in thinking about skiing is this sort of way it aligns with this like problematic frontier narrative go west young man. Like we are the white people who are gonna go conquer the country narrative that I think is so implicated in American history. And it’s so problematic. And I think that, and it’s tied to all these other, you know, it’s tied to growth, it’s tied to capitalism, it’s tied to the way we try and like have this, like chargey into new, new things. I wanna be the first I wanna do it. Right. You know, like it’s the way we look at technology. It’s the way we look at Mars. Like it’s tied to so many of these things. And so I think that changing that framework around like, okay, that’s not a realistic target. I mean, maybe it never was a realistic target, but it’s not, at some point we’ll have we have, we will have we, or have touched all the places.

Heather Hansman:

How do we then switch a framework around, you know, like not growing and pushing and trying to like take care of the things that we have and like switching our mindset around, like you can’t pushing towards that goal of something new or of growth or change is not realistic. We have to like switch our swap our framework, I think, is this like really interesting social, psychological cultural question. And I think that, that, you know, in a lot of ways, I’m so far down this, you know, skiing, skiing as a metaphor, but I think that it is this way to kind of tangibly look at how we can’t just set our frameworks like that anymore. We, it just expect that things are gonna keep growing and growing and growing and going forever. Cause it’s not realistic within the framework of resources and of society. So I think it is, I don’t know how to shift that framework and be okay with it. But I think it is something we’re gonna be running up against in so many. We already are running up against, in so many ways. I mean, I was even thinking about that in the context of, of BIS and just being like how many more spins can they do? Like whats, like how far seriously, like at what point are we done?

Tori Duhaime:

There’s out so much conversation about that. The snowboarding world that I’ve been listening to on another podcast with my partner and yeah, this idea that like, there’s actually a point where other, other regulations are gonna have to come place. I think about this in the back country so much ever since that access started to become more desirable. And honestly, like it’s one of those things where it’s like, absolutely I want everybody to want to do this. And like, but do it safely. And the pandemic sort of drew us into this a little bit of like carelessness of access to the back country, uh, when everything shut down. And that that’s very much my, my perspective. I don’t wanna speak on behalf of anyone in that, but if we start like putting others at risk in, or even in com competitions, like if you start just constantly hiring that barrier, then war regulations actually have to come into play in order to create public safety. Or there’ll be a point where somebody gets so injured in the Olympics or something that they have to be like, Hey, like we can no longer even have this sport in the Olympics because like the caliber is so high that people will just throw everything at it to the degree where injury is of no cause.

Heather Hansman:

Right. Yeah. And I think it’s like, I don’t know. It’s like the snowboarding is too much of a metaphor, but it’s like, what do we lose in style when we’re just going for spins? Like if you’re just trying to push, what are the cool things that you kind of like lose in the process?

Gale Straub :

It brings me back to when we were talking about winter Olympics when I was like kid, I remember watching Tara Lapinsky and Michelle Kwan, what year this was, it was for, it was a while ago. And I just love Michelle Kwan so much cuz she was so graceful. Like I loved the, I loved the beauty in it, but I’m always someone who like defaults to beauty over like technical things.

Heather Hansman:

It like goes back to your first question you were asking Gail about sort of like, what is it about skiing or what is, how do you kind of like talk about it? And I think one of the things I appealing about skiing compared to like so many other sports like running or whatever it might be is like style is such a factor and that everyone does it kind of differently. And so there is this aspect where like whatever, like you ski with five other people, everyone’s kind of like going down the same place in a different line, hitting little different things. Like there’s not, I don’t know. I think that as a sport is like, there’s such an appealing quality to that.

Tori Duhaime:

Well, and I, I think it loops into your chapter about risk really beautifully and like the psychology of risk. So I actually went to school for dance. That was my, my degree was in modern dance. And I, I clung onto skiing by, by cross analyzing skiing and dance as a way to not let my professors tell me to stop skiing. And I’m V I’m like I have this little internal obsession of my own around the intersection of style and survival and the way that like by pushing risk, the body will create an inherent style to survive on its own based on what it knows of itself. Hmm. I think there’s something so interesting about that intersection and what I had never actually brought into that conversation as much was that psychological factor. And I’m probably gonna now go track down those professors, you referenced and spiral into their research through this. But I think that that’s such a huge factor in all of the style that we talk about both in the body and in apparel and how you show up to the mountain. And so much of, of even the ski BU lifestyle coming back to that style and it’s, it’s actual like structure with the concept of surviving.

Heather Hansman:

Hmm. Yeah. And how do you kind of fit in the contact and show that you’re part of it, but also show that you’re unique and that you’re doing your own thing. Yeah. That’s an interest. That’s a, that’s such a bigger question. That’s so interesting.

Gale Straub :

Yeah. This is one of the things that Heather, I said at the beginning of the conversation, uh, I shared how many thoughts that Tori had, you know, from reading the book and how much conversation can be generated from the topics that you dove into with this book. And it’s, it’s really just been fun to, to hear that kind of come out just in this short conversation today as well, which really brings me to my last question, which is what for you, Heather, do you believe is the value of taking a hard look at that, that you really do love the love shines through in the book that you wrote, but there’s also this like critical lens that you put it through. And what, what do you think is the value in that for, for others?

Heather Hansman:

I think we should always be investigating in things we love and to try and understand why and what that, you know, like, you know, to kind of get to the, like, you don’t just wanna be passive. Like you, the things better for everyone. I don’t wanna be stagnant in anything. And I think that like in a lot of ways, like we were saying earlier, like this book raised more questions for me than it had answers. And it sort of like forced in, in a lot of ways, especially around the risk and mental health and like, what does this do for our brain? It kind of like brought up more hard things than I have answers for. And so like, I hope that this even just like putting the book out there, that it sort of like starts these conversations and that we can be talking about it more and we can kind of say like, okay, you know, we figured out some pain points.

Heather Hansman:

What do we do to, I mean, like, not that I’m the only person looking at this, but that like, okay, yeah, this can be a part of the conversation about like, how do we make this thing we love better and how do we make it sustainable for as long as possible. I don’t nostalgia such a sort of like piece of this story and a piece of the culture and a piece of this kind of, of like looking back glory day’s aspect of, that’s like kind of tied to this skiing history aspect. And I don’t wanna just be looking back, you know, I don’t want it to be like, oh yeah, you should have been here. You know, in the eighties it was way cooler. Like I don’t, I don’t wanna think like that. I wanna be thinking about like what the future’s gonna look like and how do we make it sort of like fun and cool and interesting. How do we get, you know, as many people as possible to have, have that experience of fighting gravity or whatever we wanna call that, that feeling and the style.

Gale Straub :

Yeah. I couldn’t agree more. And I think that that sentiment carries over into pretty much everything we do in nature in the outdoors.

Heather Hansman:

Yeah. And I think that like so many of the, these things can be so inherently, I don’t know if selfish is exactly the right word, but that’s like, you’re in your own body. You’re experiencing it on yourself. And I think it’s like, if you can kind of take that and get out of that sort of singular head space, I think that that makes it healthier for everybody and for yourself.

Gale Straub :

Thank you so much for, for joining. Thank you, Tori, for joining us from the side of a mountain to,

Tori Duhaime:

I mean, you can call me on pretty much any Saturday and I’ll be somewhere like this. So

Heather Hansman:

Yeah. Well hopefully we can all talk about it actually on a mountain at some point. Cause I feel like it’s like, there’s like so many other things to talk about.

Tori Duhaime:

Absolutely. Absolutely.

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