The Skier’s Smile
By WATERSKI MAGAZINE MARJO RANKIN SEPTEMBER 19, 2016
Link to the original article from the magazine
It’s as involuntary as the grip on a handle. It can show up at the end of the most challenging pass through the slalom course, or the jump or trick that elevates an average day to an awesome one. It happens at the end of most any set on the water, actually. It’s almost spiritual.
Have you seen it? Felt it? It’s called “skier’s smile,” and it really is a thing. Lynn Carnes, an avid slalom skier and a leadership-development coach, began documenting the skier’s smile at Coble’s Ski School in Lillington, North Carolina. It was women’s week, and the 14 skiers there ranged in age from 43 to 86. Their skill levels ran an equally broad spectrum.
“There is a certain smile you get right after skiing,” Carnes says. “It’s a unique smile, starting somewhere in the region of the toes and radiating up through the body until it bursts off the face like a full-tilt sunbeam.”
Ever watch Nate Smith run 41 off? He runs that pass with some frequency; even so, the smile is automatic. It’s no different for Carnes or any of the others she saw at ski school, including the 86- year-old whose goal was to get up on skis for the first time in 20 years.
Seth Stisher sees and shares the smile daily as a traveling coach who also has a ski school in Charleston, South Carolina. “People almost accidentally smile,” he says. “I guess a couple of things cause that smile. One of them, I think, is relief. It was something that was driving them. ... I think it’s also a sense of accomplishment.”
It’s also fleeting, Stisher says, as one goal gives way to the next, and the pursuit continues. As does the smile. “For the moment, the world’s been conquered, you know?” he says. “For that brief moment.”
From those smiles, those moments, come a brotherhood — or a sisterhood, Stisher says. As Carnes puts it, “It’s truly the smile that binds.”
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