To ski or not to ski

According to the Internet, the newspaper is on its deathbed. Indeed, the Internet would have us believe that the Internet, with its hordes of untrained and easily duped citizen "journalists," is the newspaper of the future - and for all I know, the Internet is right.

But the printed word isn't dead yet, and - like half a dozen other Americans - I occasionally feel compelled to shake open a newspaper, breathe deeply of its pulpy aroma, and get my fingers inky. And while giving into this perverse compulsion always makes me feel headachy and unclean, every so often it also forces me to contemplate unflattering memories.

Just last week, for instance, I accidentally glanced at a local rag's sports page (I usually only read "Hints from Heloise") and noticed that the Winter Olympics are upon us. Although I count myself among the seven percent of Tri-Lakers who have never participated in the Winter Olympics, I have participated in one sport the Winter Olympics are famous for: downhill skiing.

More to the point, as a kid, I competed in a number of downhill ski races put on by the New York Ski Educational Foundation (NYSEF, to civilians). By "competed," of course, I mean "finished dead last." For all the difference my participation in those races made, I might as well not have shown up - and I've often wished I hadn't.

Was it really that bad? You tell me. Imagine you're a scrawny ten-year-old perched at the starting gate, staring down a 12,000-foot vertical drop. Your skis have been coated with a special wax designed to send you hurtling through the course at 500,000 miles per hour - even faster than the speed at which Charlie Sheen's last shred of dignity vanished when he joined the cast of "Two and a Half Men" - but, because of your awful technique, you still can't manage to go faster than a drunken sloth.

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