Ski Tunes: the Music in the Turns

words :: Drew McIvor.

My name is Drew and I am a music and skiing addict.

If I break it down, it’s really the same sweet poison in both worlds that keeps me coming back for more. And are you ready for this? The two actually complement each other. I’ve come to the conclusion that music makes me a better skier, and vice versa. In so many ways what I experience as a musician translates to the silvery slopes and then back again.

Rhythm. It’s almost a universal expression of the body experiencing joy. Statements like: “I was in the groove, I was feeling it, effortless, everything clicked, the flow.” Whether it’s finally getting the left hand to gain some independence from the right working that Chopin nocturne, or descending into a powder-filled bowl, that moment when it starts to bounce, the push and pull all feel connected… you know.

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Overcoming Fear. I’ve watched first-timers at an open stage that honestly look like they’re going to pass out from the anxiety. And it’s not like they were forced: they signed the clipboard, brought their guitar and their friends, but gulp, where is that back door!?

Now think about the first time you took on a blue square run, then a black diamond, the first time you snuck out of bounds. “Why am I here? I was in a warm lodge listening to Daft Punk an hour ago and I think that server smiled at me. Now I’m definitely going to die!” The fear of missing out, falling, even tumbling head over heels is overwhelming, but not quite as much as the even more overwhelming thirst to go for it. And the payoff? Pure adrenalin: Facing that fear and then feeling the sweet electric bliss on the other side.


That’s what turns the page—that’s punk. Otherwise we’d still be playing lutes and skiing in leather boots.


Practice/Training. Scales, metronomes, laps, squats, gates… toughing it out in the shadows for your glory day whether it’s that opening set in the Village café or the cat skiing trip in… six days! No! When I signed up I had three months! Okay—do-re-mi, one-two-three

Heroes. Name yours. Some of mine are Paul McCartney, Glen Plake, Billie Holiday… Warren Miller! Our heroes help us see ourselves as stars in waiting, they let us know that magnificence is attainable. Honour your heroes and set big goals. Land a sweet jump off your couch while you’re waiting for it to snow, or air-guitar that dream solo before rehearsal. One day someone might look to you with those same dreamy eyes.

Fun with Friends. Now we’re getting somewhere. The boots are on, the Marshall amp is purring away, and there they are: your friends. The people you love are right beside you, in it to win it. There if you triumph, there if you crash. Last one down the mountain buys the Michelobs. Would it be half the fun if Cody wasn’t there to see you shred that solo or if Jean missed the snorkel-deep pow? Hells no. Never miss a chance to play together.

Creativity/Improvisation. “So remember in rehearsal we were gonna go to the bridge and then Bonnie was gonna go ballistic on the drums? But then we got lost and we just went for it anyway and the crowd went nuts! That was awesome!” Or: “I was coming up on that last kicker and I wanted to 720, but you know what? I just went for total air… I lost points but OMG, I thought I’d never come down!” Yep, go off script. That’s what turns the page—that’s punk. Otherwise we’d still be playing lutes and skiing in leather boots.

Mistakes. Ever wrapped your skis around a tree? Yeah, you have. Ever forgot the words and had to make it up? Poorly? Of course! Ever bit it in front of a lift line of 200 people? We all have. Those red-faced, hard to swallow moments are gold too; that’s how we learn. And really, they’re just as fun as that big air moment no one saw. That’s okay, that can be yours to keep, and the crash? Your friends are still laughing.