I'm done skiing
Date: 2022-12-18 | observe | adventure | skiing |
This year I decided to hang up my skis - largely due to three factors: cost, opportunity cost, and DANGER.
My short ski career
I picked skiing up during the 2020 panedmic as a way to get out of the house and see friends. Over the next 2 years I had the pleasure of skiing ~14 days (6 + 8) at ~5 resorts around the US getting to a comfortable state on most blues.
I'd been out on the slopes a few times in college previous to 2020 but those times were all as a snowboarder and ended with lots of bruises and a few dislocated shoulders. So when the 2020 pandemic came around and all my gnarly friends decided that they were going to continue their regularly scheduled quest for #pow despite national health restrictions in ~half the nation - I figured it would be more fun than sitting at home and being dpressed.
pow is a real term coming out of people's mouths. People talk about finding and experiencing it in the same way I'd expect Pokemon trainers to trade stories of shinies.
Over the next 3 seasons I joined some winter sport die hards (aka some friends) for their regular outing, hitting many of the big name resorts I'd heard of. This is my way of saying look I tried this thing a lot so I think I have enough experience / context to make an informed decision to not do it again.
Places I went, in no particular order:
- East coast
- Hunter Mountain
- West coast
- Park City
Now onto reasons why I'm done skiing.
The most obvious case against skiing is cost. It is not cheap - with a hefty entry fee and significant ongoing costs.
- Equipment: $100s - $1000s (depends quality, newness, and if you rent)
- Examples: Jackets, gloves, helmet, pants, under layers for warmth, goggles, etc
- Note: Renting may lower the up-front costs but that gets added into ongoing, so tradeoff
- Ski Pass: $50-200 per day (or ~$500 for season)
- Equipment: $50+ / day (depends on day, resort, etc)
- Examples: skis, boots, helmets, etc
- Equipment: $50+ / day (depends on day, resort, etc)
- Lodging + Transportation: $100+ per day (prices go up cause peak time)
- Travel to mountain areas
- Air: ??? (can be high as peak time)
- Train / Bus: ???
Would rec just looking around internet for more concrete numbers, but idea is it's high.
Now obviously depending on how you choose your adventure, costs may go up or down. But the point is that the median ski trip is not cheap. Low $100s per person for a couple days would be a steal but it's typically much higher than that.
Whenever something is not cheap, I like to seriously consider it as this has a large impact on a core domain for my life - finance. Over the past few years I realized that skiing turned into one of my single largest expenses. On further reflection - I don't think it's one of my largest sources of joy. So maybe this is data pointing that it's not optimal for me.
A big question is that given the high monetary costs of winter sports, is there something else you'd rather be doing with those resources?
One common argument for "no": what else would you do during the winter if you're not skiing?
Well if you buy a high $100s ski pass, probably not much as you want to amortize that cost per day as much as possible.
If you don't ski then maybe you'd sit at home and do nothing? Maybe. Probably in my case. Is that so bad?
Yet there are so many other things you could do - especially at those prices.
- For low change / low savings: Just go to the ski resort and enjoy the outdoors (sans skiing)
- For medium change / low-medium savings: Reallocate the resources from this peak winter trip to ilke anything else (an international trip or two could easily fit within such a budget)
- For high change / high savings: Stay at home (?)
At the end of the day if what you're doing is not worth the cost it may not be the right thing to do. A lot of the time, cost is actually meaningless until you compare it against what you now can't do because you've already spent resources on something else.
In the case of mid-tier ski trips, this could easily be a medium / large trip internationally or just good padding for your savings commitment rate.
While I enjoyed my time skiing, I eventually realized that what I really enjoyed about it was the time spent adventuring with friends. I'd often cut ski days short to grab lunch, sip a coffe, and read / enjoy the view (read: not ski). This is something none of the wintersport afficionados did.
All this is data that maybe skiing is not how I want to be spending my time / resource allocations - as long as there's a better way to fill my values.
Even with the likely suboptimal cost / opportunity cost of these trips - it's not really a deal-breaker for me. Sometimes I do things not because I particularly love the primary thing but because it has favorable side effects - exercise for health, helping a friend in need for support / connection, saving $ for long-term stability.
But typically that thing needs to have small downsides. Like sure I'll help a friend with their code or to get a job but probably not to rob a bank. The downsides are a bit too steep.
So I've been amazed the past few years at the widespread, near-ubiquitous belief that sliding down an icy hill (often mountain) at 10 (or 20/30/40/50+) MPH is a normal or reasonable amount of risk for a human to take. It is so potently irrational and widespread that it reminds me of the NY NJ hate, Brooklyn love.
Now I was open to the idea that maybe I was just being paranoid. Like jumping out of an airplane and scuba diving both seem like pretty dangerous things but the data actually shows them to be pretty safe (when done professionally).
But over the last 3 seasons there has not been one where I didn't see multiple people with serious and perhaps life changing (if not quite threatening) injuries. Even more common (and I think likely not included in the official data because no paper trail) are the more minor injuries - enough falling that a butt pad is essential gear, strains to knees / other ligaments, wrist / shoulder dislocations that don't quite end in a hospital visit to name just a few.
But let's look at the "official" data:
Okay actually this data (or at least comparable data) was really hard to find so I've tried to find data we can compare.
Per 100k incidents (cause that's "normal sport" incidence):
- Regular Sports - 2014 Data
- Bicycling – 126.5 per 100,000 individuals
- Basketball – 61.2 per 100,000 individuals
- Baseball and softball – 41.3 per 100,000 individuals
- Football – 25.2 per 100,000 individuals
- Soccer – 23.8 per 100,000 individuals
If you have better data I'd be happy to see it, until then I'm going wit hthe takeaway that winter sports are far more dangerous than other sports per person.
- 201x - Me - dislocated shoulder, nearly tore knee
- 201x - Naveen - Tore both labrums, surgery, and months of therapy
- 2020 - Sean - torn tendon, years of therapy and surgery, maybe permanent issues
- 2023 - Bob - Broken shoulder, healing unclear
I liked skiing. It was a great experience and got me to go to a lot of locations I never would've gone - mostly snowy mountains. I'm planning on more ski(less) trips in the next year. Just no skiing.