“How to: Composing the Perfect Ski Run,” Madison Scheper (2012) — Inquiry 1

Writer’s Reflection

Composition: A finished product, whose organization was controlled by individuals and outside factors.

Drafting: a planning process, where ideas taken during brainstorming are regarded with what is realistically possible and in consideration of the final composition.

Throughout my essay, I supported and elaborated upon my above definitions of composition and brainstorming through using and demonstrating my own personal experiences. I showed the reader, rather than told them about these experiences, and I feel that this will help the reader to better see the definitions from my point- of-view. I also used word choice that I thought better supported my argument, made my presented argument stronger, and that made it easier for the readers to understand my experiences. The audience may not have been skiing before, and it was critical to the argument that they understood the final composition. In consideration of the reader’s potential lack of skiing expertise, I made sure to explain the thought process behind the decisions made in the shown experience, so that they may further comprehend the final composition being described in the essay.


Usually it is on the lift line or at the split in the trail where skiers make the decision on what hill to ski. Yet every ski trip they imagine the perfect run, the ideal lap, and they wait and plan for when the best time would be to achieve that run. This is the brainstorming process, imagining how that run would go and what it would be like, but already as we start to plan this ideal run and consider the factors and what is realistically possible, we are drafting. The weather, snow conditions, and time of day are all factors considered when planning ahead, or drafting, for a run. How will the visibility be? Is there new snow, or just a sheet of ice? Will I be able to catch a lift back to the frontside of the mountain? These are all control variables, planning that happens before the lift lines start moving. Not only that, but one must consider how they themselves are feeling that day. If they are tired or pulled a muscle, they might not be able to pull off that double- black.

You can hear the blasts echoing through the air as you ascend the chairlift and skate down the cat track to the gondola. You know because of the snow last night (hence, the avi bombs), and the bluebird skies today is predicted to have, that it will be a beautiful day for skiing the peak. Yesterday was the first day that you skied real mountains in awhile, but that hot tub eased your tired muscles and the moment you clipped in the bruised shins were promptly forgotten.

Skiing ability and experience is another variable to consider when planning a ski run. This is the drafting process, when the ideas considered in brainstorming are gathered together in a sensible way. No sense in getting up the lift, taking one look at the hill and turning around to beg the lift operator to let you ride down again. One’s ability to ski different types of hills, or their desire to expand their experience and skill set is inevitably one of the most important decisions when deciding what hills to ski. Going on hills that are too difficult makes one a liability and danger to others, but going on too easy of hills makes the ski trip utterly uneventful.

In the lift line you can hear the locals talking about the powder stashes and untracked lines they will be racing to, but you will be staying on Liberty Bowl, still a black, but with no avalanches. It is perhaps not quite as steep or deep, but its safer for skiers like you, used to lapping groomers in the midwest, without beacons or shovels. At 10 the gondola opens and the crowd begins shuffling forward, skis and boards in hand. Fifteen at a time can fit in the small capsule that will take you to the top, and crowded though it is it gives your face a break from the wind that inevitably blows at 11,000 feet. The ride up is breathtaking and you gain altitude so rapidly that your ears pop multiple times. At the top everyone piles out of the small cable-car and many promptly clip in and glide away, leaving nothing but two small tracks as evidence that they had been there.

One of the final factors that is consciously considered is opportunity. Will you get the chance to do this again? Will the conditions allow you to do this again? Will there be time to do this again? If the answer to all of these questions is ‘no’ then it becomes very difficult to ignore the opportunity and walk away. Its the same mentality as when someone states, “it is a one-in-a-lifetime chance”. This is also part of the drafting process as it strongly affects the plans that are made.

You understand that you won’t be able to come up here again during your trip so you struggle to operate your half-frozen digital camera with thickly gloved hands, wanting to document the incredible view from the peak. When this task is complete you slide down past caution signs and orange tape marking where the edges are- after all you are on the peak of a mountain. On the left a weathered sign points to the Liberty Bowl, otherwise indistinguishable from the other descents, and with some trepidation you turn your skis downhill.

Often this is where drafting processes end and composing takes over, but it is possible to continue drafting as you go down. Perhaps there is an obstacle that you didn’t know existed, you become too intimidated, or there is another run that looks too good to pass up. Then the drafting process would occur when making the decisions in response to these instances. While skiing the hill– composing– you are also constantly brainstorming your line, figuring out where you will make every turn. The brainstorming process never really stops until the composition process ends when what you are composing is a ski run, especially in areas where the snow varies.

With one clean turn they clear the first snow fence– the top foot just visible– and suddenly you forget the nerves. How silly you had been! The scenery was intimidating but you had skied much more physically and mentally demanding hills before. You make your way down the wide, white expanse. It’s hard work. There is lots of snow, it burns your quads, but you don’t want to slow down as you fall into a rhythm. Up, weight on inside leg, turn, down. You keep looking ahead, avoiding areas that look vague, and planning where the best turn will be. Every now and then you carve just right, and it feels like you’re floating on a cloud.

The compositional and brainstorming processes ends when the run is complete, there is no way to go back and change or perfect it, as you might do on an essay. You only had one chance to make the ski run how you wanted it, but maybe that’s why its so rewarding and why people are drawn to the sport. It can become a personal challenge, to strive for good composition.

All too soon, the trees come into sight and you are funneled into another run which leads to a groomer taking you to a lift on the backside of the mountain. That run alone took two hours, and your stomach grumbles its hunger to you. Though for now it will have to settle on trail-mix, you are already heading off to your next run.