Fast enough to burn his bases.
A PRE-REDEMPTION POEM
I retired in October from the Alaska Su-
preme Court, after 15-plus years. But
when I was first on the court, I created
the Alaska Supreme Court Alpine Ski
Team. It was for the court’s law clerks,
and there were two ways to make the
team: either race in an annual easy
(very easy) GS at Alyeska, or submit
an entry in the Great Ski Racing Lit-
erature Contest and read it at the an-
nual ski dinner. Two types of literature
were recognized: prose, consisting
of the first paragraph of a bad skiing
or ski racing novel, and poetry. The
ski racing was rarely pretty to watch
(although one of my clerks was an ex-
Canadian FIS racer), but the prose was
often funny and the poetry sometimes
was pretty good. Given Bode’s recent
redemption (much appreciated by local
skiers and racers who think a lot of him
as a racer), I am attaching a copy of
a pre-redemption poem I wrote about
him for the Great Ski Racing Literature
Alaska Division Masters 9
strive we all for high edge angles
rushing gates cause nervous jangles;
icy feet gripped by boots too small
comfort not relevant at all.
Is this what Bode Miller feels
when, plunging down a course, he steals
both time and pleasure from the clock
on injected snow, that, like a rock
so hard and slick we could not turn,
or stop, or stand; it’s no concern
to Bode, straight’ning out the line,
chopping off meters and more time,
trying for complete perfection
hoping for self-satisfaction.
A few perfect race turns he skis
at singular intensities;
fast enough to burn his bases
and dull the edges on which he races;
first crushed by many gravities,
next launched off a rise until he’s
high above the dropping track, then
landing 100 feet beyond, when
trying to run each turn straighter,
a scrambling arc that gets later
than he’ll like upon reflection;
dives to take a new direction
tightens the arc back into line
and once again his line is fine.
no one can avoid disaster
when trying to ski ever faster
than the laws of physics allow
and then they must submit and bow
to crushing force that drags them down,
and leaves them limp on icy ground.
But today, Bode stays on course;
he therefore suffers no remorse
some error kept him from the pace
he had set for himself pre-race.
Peak speeds exceeding ninety miles
now finishing he slows, then smiles,
deciding that he skied his best
during this self-inflicted test.
A wild man from New Hampshire woods?
or canny genius with real goods?
Bode is a complex puzzle,
The Team erred trying to muzzle.
Brilliance on a racing course
and often an outrageous source
of quotes smarter than they sounded
by non-skiing press he’s hounded.
But he provides true inspiration;
Bode is no mere sensation.
Mr. Miller’s racin’ d’etre
is, like ours: to ski bett’re.
OUR RACIN’ D’ETRE
What is our racin’ d’etre?
Trying always to ski bett’re.
In attempting to ski faster
and thus tempting grave disaster,
Inevitable some mistakes,
in these conditions no one makes
a perfect run that’s error free;
at these speeds that so few can ski
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Bryce Eller, not Ellis, took fifth in the downhill at Sugarloaf
J2 Nationals. (Juniors, March 29 issue.) Ski Racing regrets