Time just seems to fly And we keep changing you and I We're all just putty in the hands Of old father time . . . -- Jim Ringer, songwriter
Sure, times change, but this is ridiculous.
In 1960 things were simple. If you were taller than 6 feet 2 you were the center of the basketball team. If you had a Chevy Supersport you were a ladies' man, if you smoked cigarettes you were a hood and if you suffered the supreme misfortune of being built like a whiskey barrel you were a guard on the football team.
Twenty years isn't that long, is it?
So how come they don't even make Supersports anymore? Is there a kid left out there who still smokes cigarettes? Is anybody between the ages of 15 and 20 wandering around who isn't 6-2? And who is this guy in the car, bopping to the beat of Michael Jackson on the tape deck, who claims he is a guard on the Churchill High School football team?
This guy can't be a guard. He stands a wiry 6-4 and he can run the 40-yard dash in 4.9 seconds. There wasn't anybody in my high school who could do that, on ice skates.
Now that football season is over this big, strong guy is heading for Ski Liberty. In the back of the car is piled the wherewithal for his real No. 1 sport. There are skis and a slick, tight blue suit, fancy poles and another tape deck and earphones and yellow speed goggles. He's going skiing.
A guard on the football team.Going dancing. On skis, for crying out loud.
Rick Peterson himself concedes that something funny is going on.
"Big people aren't supposed to be able to ski fast," he admitted. "But they're not supposed to be good skateboarders, either."
Peterson, the football guard, has won trophies for trick skateboarding. He's a member of Ski Liberty's ski-racing team. And now he's on his way up to Liberty to demonstrate how you can boogie down the mountain in your own little self-contained roundstage, wowing everybody.
"This is my tape deck," he said, pulling a slick blue bag out of the pile of paraphernalia. He had brought along two ski ballet tapes. They were not exactly Rachmaninoff. More like Blood, Sweat and Tears, Pure Prairie League, the Rolling Stones.
"I really like this song," he said, turning the sound up loud. Michael Jackson's hot beat came bopping through.
"Keep it up, baby don't stop. Don't stop till you get enough. . ."
Peterson, crammed in the front seat, rolled his shoulders to the beat, gearing up for the mountain.
Peterson is Washington's version of Suzi Chapstick. He's a freestyle skier, one of so few in the area that he can't think of anyone else that does it.
On the slope he explained a little about this strange, solo sport.
"It 's all your own stuff," he said, whirling out of a 360-degree "helicopter" off a mogul. "There are some books, but you can't really tell from the pictures what they're doing.
"I just get into the music and make up my own routine as I go along."
Peterson's idols are western mountain daredevils that few outside free-styling have heard of -- Scott Brooksbank, Mike Shea, Airborne Eddie Ferguson.
He also is fond of Alan Schoenberger, a freestyler who got so sick of blowing out of his ski bindings that he had his ski boots bolted to his skis.
"The only way they'll come off now," said Peterson, "is if a leg comes off."
Freestyling is the antithesis of organized sport. Most ski mountains have signs up saying don't do it, and the little handful of eastern freestylers has to sneak around the rules-keepers.
There is no formal freestyle competition, though Peterson says there is hope for an exhibition of freestyling at the 1984 Winter Olympics. Maybe international competition will evolve from that.
But for now, the ski dancers are just out to show off.
"That's mostly what skiing is anyway," said Peterson. "You see some girls and you follow them down the mountain. Or they see you and follow you down."
It works both ways and it doesn't hurt a bit if on the way you can throw in a few royal christies, a backscratcher or two, some daffy ducks, a spreadeagle and a handfull of Austrian high steps, one of Peterson's own creations.
He had sworn before our expedition that ski ballet was performed principally on flatter stretches of the mountain where beginners go. But the snow was slow at Liberty that day and after one run Peterson wanted more speed. He convinced me to go to the top with him.
"You can do it," he said."I'm a ski instructor, too. I'll help you get down."
So I went, and got to watch from various places I wound up either tumbled or sprawled. I watched this giant of a man-child soar down the mountain, grooving to a musical beat, poles and skis flying as he spun and swayed. Watched and listened to the oohs and aahs of the struggling masses he swept past.
I tell you, it's just not fair.