When a friend emailed me a link to grass skiing news, at first I thought it was some kind of silliness from a humor segment in a Warren Miller film or a light-hearted brainchild of bored and creative ski bums to help them pass the summer months.
Then I dug a little deeper a realized it is a legitimate ski discipline sanctioned by the FIS, with a World Cup Tour, official rankings, 116 pages of rules and regulations, and Spandex body suits. I can only imagine how nice it must feel to lay down arcs on perfect corduroy or schralp some fluffy pow after a hard season on the grass circuit.
Grass skiing was invented in Germany in 1966 (just one year after CMH invented heliskiing!) with the idea being to give ski racers a method for training during the summer months. Now, with the proliferation of outdoor sports, grass skiing has caught on in places as disparate as Taiwan, Iran and Japan.
Caterpillar-like treads are used in place of skis, and the rolling contact between the skier and the slope seems to cause little damage or erosion to the grass slope. Compared to snow skiing, the ride looks like the difference between an Abrams and an Audi, but the body position is remarkably similar to ski racing and would surely give ski racers a way to hold their edge, so to speak, during the summer months.
So what will the future of grass skiing hold? Perhaps kite skiing on golf courses? Rodeo 720s in Astroturf-lined halfpipes far from any mountains? Grass snowboarding? Will there be a backcountry equivalent complete with gnarly lines, multiday traverses, sick air, and BASE jumping stunts (Grassbasing?) off the edge of some airy pasture high in the Alps?
Pampas grass grows up to 3 metres tall. Maybe ski areas will start growing Pampas on the ski slopes and open the lifts in the summer for the over the head, choker grass skiing experience? Or maybe, with climate change, in 50 years grass skiing will be all we get?
Not likely, but then again, I never would have guessed we’d see off-road skateboarding either...
Photo By Christian Jansky (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons