Richard Connor: Fun on the slopes – Whoosh! Yee-Haw! Ouch!

Somewhere in Texas there is a young ’un scootin’ around on an elementary school playground riding an imaginary horse, slapping his sides and hollering, “Yee-Haw!”

He’s about 3 foot nothing, if you see him, and should be tackled to the ground and given a pink belly.

He was skiing in Colorado last week with most of the other Texans who do not know how to ski, behaving badly and generally giving our home state a bad name.

I was one of those Texans but unique in that I do know how to ski – or did, before I encountered that little bugger.

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Recklessly veering in front of me and screaming out of either joy or fear, the fire-hydrant-sized tyke presented me the option of running over him or heading into a deep rut on the ski slopes.

Those ruts are generally carved out on the edge of the woods by expert skiers hoping to increase the rush of fast skiing and the feeling of flying through the air.

Avoiding young “Hoss,” I found myself in a rut both figuratively and literally. I am neither fearless enough to seek the intended acrobatic thrill nor good enough to execute the required landing maneuver.

And so goes the experience of a holiday ski vacation: one day and one-hour skiing, three hours in emergency care, and four-to-six weeks of discomfort with bruised ribs and my arm in a sling from a shoulder separation.

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It’s winter, and nothing is more beautiful then mountains blanketed with snow. But an experience like mine raises a question: Why do people insist on careening down a mountainside, particularly when they most likely practice this vigorous sport only once a year and without sufficient training?

Why ruin the scenery flipping over and over in the air two or three times, scattering skis and poles all over the mountain and moaning loudly?

My guess is that even those who have skied often – and I include myself in this group – are scared to death during most of the descent down a ski run. They are always one ski edge or one crazy little Texan away from calamity.

A holiday-ending injury leaves a person with week-long lodging reservations time on his hands, or at least on the hand not impeded by the sling – time enough for another question to throb through the brain alongside the pain from bruised ribs: Who came up this skiing idea, anyway?

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Like many ideas and inventions that outlive their roots, practicality drove the idea of skis. Folks around the 18th century in Scandinavian climates wanted to move about the countryside, perhaps to pick up some nice pickled herring or dried fish from the Central Market of their day, unburdened by the tiring and tiresome task of plodding through knee-high snow.

Boards wide enough to glide on top of the snow and attached to their feet made life easier and more efficient.

Think about the great explanation by the late Robin Williams on the invention of golf as you try to imagine how skiing evolved into a sport.

Some poor Swede took a wrong turn and ended up looking down from a slope toward the grocery store. He or she pointed the boards downhill and there you have it. Wee-Hee!

How was your Christmas vacation? folks ask as their eyes drift toward the sling encasing your immobilized arm.

Wonderful, you say, except for all those darn Texans skiing in Colorado. Just wonderful.

And you offer a word of caution. Watch out for one Texan in particular, especially if you’re skiing. He’s just over 3 feet tall and he’s probably yelling: “Yee-Haw!”

Richard Connor is president and publisher of the Fort Worth Business Press. Contact him at