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generation Y rocks

Wednesday,  02/22/06  07:14 PM

I am not really in touch with Generation Y.  This would be today's "kids", from teenagers to say mid twenties.  I am vaguely aware that they have an identity, and vaguely aware of some of their values and ideals.  I am vaguely aware of their music, and the sports they like, and the entertainers they like, and stuff like that.  But I am not really in touch.

So today I really came into contact with Generation Y.  And it was cool.

I am off skiing at Mammoth.  I have been skiing since I was a kid myself, maybe thirty-five years.  "Back then" there was only skiing.  There was no snowboards, no freestyle.  Skiing competition consisted of racing, and there were two varieties, slalom and downhill.  If you were a great skier it meant you had the longest skis you could find and you could make them turn in big moguls and you could ski down hills with a 50% grade without killing yourself.

But these days there is snowboarding and it is "the sport" of Gen Y.  I was skiing with my kids (Megan, 8, was on skis, but Alexis and her friend Katherine, 12, were on snowboards).  On most of the mountain, skiers and snowboarders are about 50/50, and share the hill.  There is a trend that younger people tend to be on snowboards, but not all, there is a good mix.  As you get to the top, there are more skiers; you have to be a pretty good snowboarder to ski the black diamond runs off the top at Mammoth.  But that isn't the main reason; it turns out that turning in big moguls and skiing down hills with a 50% grade without killing yourself is no longer the goal.  Now the goal is to "get air", and to go freestyle.

We were skiing around and we accidentally ended up on chair 4, aka "Roller Coaster", where Mammoth now has a "freestyle area".  Here the demographic changed.  Everyone was young, and everyone was on snowboards.  It was a total Gen Y scene.  Loud music was blaring from speakers all along the run.  There were twenty foot jumps, and rails, and tubes, and a monster half-pipe.  Kids were flying through the air, doing tricks, and wiping out.  The most commonly spoken word was "dude", often with an exclamation point.  (Dude!)  Here the cool thing was getting air, as much as possible, and then doing as much as you can while in the air.  Flips, twists, grabs, you name it.

So now I'm going to generalize, in the manner of a Martian observing Humans.

  • Everyone was "nice".  Really.
  • Everyone was having a great time.  There was competition, and there was flirting, and there was good-natured ribbing, but it was all in fun.  The adrenaline level was high but the threat level was low.
  • Everyone was trying.  Sure there was some posing, and some sitting on the sidelines and watching, but in general it was okay to try and fail.  In fact the only way to learn freestyle skiing is to try and fail, and try and fail, and keep trying and keep failing until finally you succeed.  (Pretty much like getting good at anything, I guess :)
  • Everyone was in shape, and in form, but not vain.  Snowboarding clothes tend toward the baggy and unstructured, but there's no hiding trim athletic bodies of either sex.  It seems you want to look cool, but looking cool doesn't involve looking beautiful or handsome or sexy.  Or at least, not obviously :)
  • And this is the most amazing of all - everyone was listening to rock.  The music playing on the run was rock - Bad Company, Led Zeppelin, Thin Lizzy, Ted Nugent, even Pink Floyd.  Virtually everyone had an iPod, and virtual everyone was listening to rock.  No rap.  No hip-hop.  Nothing negative.  Just good old fashioned rock 'n roll.  Awesome.

I really enjoyed myself.  There is hope for the world.  Generation Y rocks.

[ Later: Want to know how not really in touch I was?  This post was originally titled Generation X Rocks!  I was off by a whole generation.  Sigh.  Thanks to Dave Johnston for gently setting me straight. ]