My life as a poseur began when I joined an after-school skiing and snowboarding club my sophomore year of high school. My school required students to participate in structured physical activities, and I had been proven useless in all types and levels of team athletics. It would not be long before my supervisors and peers began to catch on that I was similarly inept at snowboarding.
I wasn't always that bad, yet I inevitably found myself irritable, numb and sprawled out on my back in a patch of moguls. Three years after learning how to snowboard, I was out of control and weaving like Bode Miller after a pub crawl. Overcome with shame and still attached to my oversize snowboard, I crawled to the side of the trail to avoid the stoned hippie snowboarders and hotshot 5-year-old skiers gliding by with enviable ease and impeccable form. Like basketball, karate and rockstardom, I had to accept that snowboarding just wasn't for me.
But I wasn't ready to abandon the great outdoors quite yet. I still enjoyed the overall skiing and snowboarding experience; I just didn't find the up-the-hill, down-the-hill routine as thrilling now that it left painful snow burns on my ass. I had to up my game. I had to pretend I was good. So I became a full-fledged, unapologetic poseur--the K-Fed of the slopes. And to my surprise, it worked.
Here are my fail-proof tips for looking and acting like a pro skier or snowboarder, even if you can't make it off a lift without eating it.
Before you "hit the slopes," you'll need to look like a professional. Don't show up in a suspendered snowsuit and Ugg boots. That getup may gain points on the playground, but it won't work with this crowd. Remember, you should aspire to look cooler than the hotshot 5-year-old.
This means nearly everything you wear to the mountain should be made specifically for use while snowboarding or skiing. If the store has underwear for skiing or riding, buy it, wear it and tell all your friends. Plaster name brands like Rossignol, Salomon and Burton all over your person.
If you're short on cash, rent before you get to the resort or borrow from a friend (preferably one you know well and can blackmail--they're the best at keeping secrets). Anything you rent at the mountain's shop will be old, beat up and obviously an on-site rental.
You will want to convince your party that the reason you've been missing in action is because you're just too awesome to be hanging out with losers on the blue squares. The cafeteria can be a delightful refuge, but too many familiar faces will send you scurrying out into the snow like a yeti. Keep time in this area to a minimum.
Hiding is a great opportunity to showcase your creativity. Squeeze behind a vending machine, build a two-story igloo or simply hop in your car and drive away. Just make sure you come back, or you may be mistaken for an avalanche casualty or a bear-attack victim.
If hiding is not enough, and someone insists on seeing you in action, don't panic. Offer to take him or her to the bar first. (Yes, this whole charade can get expensive--posin' ain't easy.) When you get to the slopes, mention that he or she looks a bit unsteady on his or her skis. Since encouraging your inebriated friend down the slopes would be irresponsible, this set-up allows you to seem both morally and athletically superior, even if you're a really deplorable human being.
Just say, "See you at the bottom," and make your way down as best you can--alone.
While you're hiding, study the trail map and memorize the names of the toughest trails. When you meet up with your buddies later, tell them you hit all the big ones. Twice. Also, look for empty areas where you dared to venture in search of a thrill, since those triple black diamonds just weren't doing it for you anymore.
When you're finished with your fourth hot chocolate of the day, go to the lodge and inquire about advanced lessons. Not for you, of course, unless that instructor wants to learn a thing or two about real extreme snowboarding. Remember the names of the instructors and the people you talk to. If your friends frequent the mountain, they are probably familiar with at least some of the people who work there. So tell them what you taught the ski instructors and describe their gratitude and astonishment in detail.
The best skiers and riders do more than look cool while shredding trails at a startling speed: they can also do spectacular tricks on half-pipes, rails, moguls and jumps. You will need to remember names of impressive tricks and have a general idea of how you pulled them off. You'll also have to know basic skiing and riding lingo (grind, air, pipe, etc.).
If you're a ski poseur, lie about doing 360s, multiple flips and alley-oop flat-spin 540s in the pipe. Faux-boarders can brag about doing backside 360s in the half-pipe, switching frontside boardslides, and pulling off four consecutive 900-degree spins. Keep in mind that grinds and indy grabs aren't that special, and feel free to make up your own tricks--no one can prove you're lying if you're bragging about something you invented.
Tubing, sliding, and sledding
If all else fails, remember that most ski resorts offer tubing and alpine slides. All are great ways to stay busy all day without any fear that your friends and family will catch you crawling out of a ditch, smashing into somebody mid-trail, or chasing after your skis.
If you have no more dignity left to lose, sledding is also an option. Absolutely no skill is necessary, so ditch the slopes and hit the gentle hills of your own backyard. That's where I'll be. I'd like to see that little hotshot bastard outrun me now.
This article originally appeared in the Boston Phoenix.