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Thrills and spills are a downhill experience

By Cheng Yuezhu | China Daily | Updated: 2022-02-10 09:15

Skiers prepare for their last run of the day at dusk, as the sky morphs from blue to pale yellow and then pink, at Beijing's Nanshan Ski Resort.[Photo by Cheng Yuezhu/ China Daily]

Tackling the slopes is not for the fainthearted but the indignities and bruises are worth it, Cheng Yuezhu reports.

If the raison d'etre for zoos is the close and safe observation of animals, then ski resorts provide a valuable insight into humans at play. At least that's what I gathered from my friend's impressions after she sat at the bottom of the slope for the entire afternoon in a state of self-doubt and ennui.

She went snowboarding with me under my elaborated descriptions of a newfound interest in snow sports, spurred on partly by the highly romanticized portrayal from Vladimir Nabokov's short story Wingstroke.

In the words of Nabokov, who has an eye for beauty in the most everyday and untended minutiae, good skiers exhibit an effortlessly elegant mien. "Hands nonchalantly thrust into the pockets of her leather jacket and her left ski slightly advanced, she sped off down the slope, ever faster, scarf flying, amid sprays of powdered snow," he wrote.

In his eyes, "all was merriment and azure" at the ski resort. It is true, based on my impressions of the Nanshan Ski Resort in Beijing. Every time I am there, it seems like a little world of its own, staying perfectly still as people come and go. The sky is always a deep azure, and the sun gleams on the snow-covered slopes, a reflective layer of sheer white.

This is where you can appreciate human wisdom, to acknowledge and put into warming context, this perfect solution to the chilliness and indolence of winter. Simply by combining the snowy hill, a couple of boards and the law of gravity, coldness is no longer an annual torment, and snow is not something that prevents people from going out, but an ideal environment that can be made use of to go even faster.

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