Skiing and being


‘If I can still beat this uphill / will there be another one? / Will there be another uphill? / Will there still be another uphill?’

Punctuated by etheric panting, the catchy refrain comes from a Finnish pop singer’s minor hit ‘Mä hiihdän’ (‘I keep skiing,’ 2017) that my daughter happened to play the other day.

In fact, we listened to Antti Tuisku yesterday without having the faintest idea that the Tour de Ski simultaneously got underway. You see, in our family people prefer to ski themselves instead of watching other people ski.

What I did subsequently remember was the final climb of the Tour de Ski – final, grueling and, according to some, classic climb of Alpe Cermis.

‘You get married, I keep skiing. / If I can still beat this uphill / will there be another one? / Will there still be another uphill?’
While only the most pedestrian songwriter would resort to running as a metaphor of life, skiing seems to have novelty value as a figure of speech even in the snowy Scandinavian countries. St Paul’s allusions to running have been subjected to innumerable analyses, John Bunyan’s The Heavenly Footman is known as Taivaaseen juoksija (‘The Heaven Bound Runner’) in Finnish translation, but who has ever heard of spiritual skiers?

Undoubtedly the skiing metaphor has been neglected by bards and poets. If life is a road or a trail, as we have been persuaded to believe by so many scribes, why not have it covered by snow? Indeed, why not tackle the entire trail by skiing?

‘I keep praying, I keep skiing. / Your children grow up, I keep skiing. / Sea levels rise, I keep skiing.’

At the risk of stating the obvious, all of the above refers to cross-country skiing. When it comes to the poetic uses of downhill skiing, one immediately encounters sheer nothingness – le grand néant, as the Sartrean reader might put it.

Hilly New Year to my non-Sartrean readers as well!


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