The Lift Line
A sociological examination of behavior in the queue.
Sigmund Freud should have studied the ski area lift line. If he had, rather than screwing around with silly Oedipus theories and catering to his clear obsession with breasts, he would’ve found personalities and behavior of another order: the Order of the Line. And I’m not talking about jockeying for position on a powder day.
There are many microcultures within the modern ski area social framework. These cultures are observable, recordable, and each has characteristics that set them apart. And with two major ski areas within driving distance, Bozeman is a perfect center from which to study the people of the Line.
This skier or snowboarder believes he (and it’s always a he) is entitled to free lift tickets, line-cutting privileges, first tracks, and cafeteria snacks. He lives and skis within a tight social network of other “Bros” who gratify one another endlessly with examples of “Bro-ness.” He is often a transplanted Bozemanite who tells everyone he’s “from” Bozeman, even though he’s really from Vermont. He speaks in cliché lingo, using internet-driven catchphrases to help support his Bro image. He can be identified by his constant and vocal need for affirmation, his too-cool affect, and his above-average-but-not-really-that-stellar skiing skills.
The Hardcore Chick
This female skier or rider is all attitude, all the time. She often associates with Bros, but unlike them, the Hardcore Chick is secure in her identity. Because there are far fewer of them than Bros, Hardcore Chicks know they aren’t competing for attention in the Line. They are solid skiers or riders but often wuss out when it comes down to a truly gnarly line or huck. They are masters of The Excuse, the Fake Injury, the Feigned Hangover, and the Giggle. They don’t date within the Line but flirt incessantly with Bros, Stoners, Locals, each other… pretty much everyone. They eventually abandon the Line scene after too many ski-bum boyfriends and become the Jaded Low-Key Shredder.
This specimen is either: (a.) self-conscious and lame, or (b.) charging like only a Wisconsinite can charge and having a great time despite razzing from Bros, Hardcore Chics, and Loud Guys. Can be seen wearing L.L. Bean clothing, using rental skis, having a Palin-esque midwestern accent, and maintaining a shit-eating grin, even after completely eggbeatering down Flippers.
The Loud Guy
This is the person who everybody cumulatively hates in the Line. He manages to ski with a swagger (this ability hasn’t been explained by science), self-promotes at every opportunity, and thinks nothing of having loud, inappropriate conversations about coital exploits, binge drinking, chauvinistic fantasies, and, of course, the “50-footer I just stomped.” Can be identified by a general repulsion by everyone else in the Line and by a volume of conversation (both in quantity and decibels) approximately thrice the norm.
Usually quietly giggling or staring at their “trippy” snowboard or ski graphics, Stoners are among the best-behaved members of the Line. They are patient, happy, and just go with the flow so long as The Loud Guy isn’t too distracting. Can be seen darting into and out of the woods frequently, and if stalked, they often lead pursuers to a Stoner hive, AKA: renegade smoke shack.
The Singles-Line Poacher (SLP)
Singularly intent on avoiding the Line altogether, SLPs often ski alone or with other SLPs. If skiing with other SLPs, they all go into the singles line back to back, to the serious chagrin of all of the others in the Line. Though not entirely illegal, this practice is largely considered unethical, and Loud Guys may voice their legitimate concerns on behalf of the Line. SLPs sometimes overlap with Bros and vice-versa. Can be observed boldly skiing into the singles line wearing a guilty grin and catching a chair ten minutes before you do.
Unique to Bozeman and a few other ski towns with universities, Freshman are stoked. All the time. They know they have at least four years to explore Bozeman’s ski areas, and they still have Mommy’s credit card; what’s not to be stoked about? Often wide-eyed and frantic to find friends, Freshmen are easy targets for recruitment and frequently become Bros, Loud Guys, Hardcore Chicks, or Stoners before their first Bozeman Christmas.