Ehrler: Shredding the slopes

Before I became a professional bass angler, I was heavy into snow skiing – I mean real heavy into snow skiing.

My parents took me skiing when I was a little kid, guiding me down the slopes between their knees. From there, I fell in love with the exhilaration of slicing through powdery snow on a downhill run.

In college I set up my classes for Monday through Thursday so I could ski Friday through Sunday. Back then I probably skied 40 or 50 days a year. In fact, at one point, I had my sights set on a possible professional snow skiing career – not so much in the downhill racing category – but more of the freeskiing segment that was gaining momentum at the time thanks to snowboarding and extreme free-style skiing.

Then I just stopped skiing, cold turkey. My bass fishing career took off, my son Ollie was born, we moved and the next thing I know it’s been five years since I’ve been on a pair of skis.

A couple of weeks ago my wife Kelley and I started reminiscing about our old ski days, and we decided it was time to take Ollie on his first ski trip to Mammoth Mountain Ski Area where I grew up skiing.

I retrieved my old skis out of storage and to give you some idea of how long it had been since I used them, the edges of the skis were rusted up and mice had built condominiums in my ski boots. So I took everything in to get it tuned up at a ski shop.

The next day we headed to Mammoth Mountain, put Ollie on some skis, and he loved it. I put him between my knees and guided him down the slopes just like my parents did with me when I was a little kid. As a parent, I’m realizing the full-circle moments like that are some of the most special ones.

After we had worn the little guy out skiing, Kelley took him in for lunch and I decided to head to the top of the mountain to some of the more difficult terrain to see if I could still “shred the slopes.” After all, it had been five years since I had been on a pair of skis, so I didn’t really know what to expect.

Within the first two turns, I was right back into it like I never missed a day. I guess skiing is sort of like riding a bike, once you learn how to do it, you never forget.

I made a couple of long runs down the full course of the mountain and all I could think is, it’s been too long. I loved every second of it, and I didn’t realize how much I missed skiing.

Much like with fishing, the anticipation of going skiing is intense. Getting a blanket of fresh powder overnight in skiing is like a warm night in the early spring in fishing – I can’t sleep with anticipation of how great it’s going to be.

Also, in skiing, you have to constantly be looking out in front of you, scanning for sudden changes in the course conditions like snow quality, ice, tracks and moguls. If you don’t make the right split-second adjustments, you could end up on your butt – kind of like tournament bass fishing. The best downhill skiers are always looking a turn or two ahead of them, instantly processing what’s coming up and how to attack it. The best in our business have this same trait in fishing – they look just ahead and see the adjustments that need to be made before they get there.

If it sounds like I’m trying to justify taking more ski trips because it might help improve my fishing, then I’m guilty as charged. It was so great to get back on Mammoth Mountain, introduce my son to skiing and rekindle my passion for shredding the slopes.