Professional Usul Skiing - A Retrospective
With another Usul Skiing Season rapidly approaching, now is a great time to remember and appreciate Terror Mountain’s most exciting sporting event – Alpine Speed Racing. Many Usuls from all over Neopia have travelled to stay in Happy Valley lodges each winter for as long as snow has graced those iconic slopes. Many make their way out for recreational leisure – the ski routes around Terror Mountain are not all terror-inducing. But among the casual Usul skiers, there is also an elite class of expert speed skiers who live for the thrill of skiing and the glory of winning the annual Usul Alpine Championships.
For even the non-sporty Neopets, this yearly competition is exciting and fascinating to watch and learn about. Of course it follows that there is a rich history of talent, drama, and surprise amidst these ski slopes. A look back on the lovely tradition of one of Terror Mountain’s biggest sporting attractions is sure to not only educate, but inspire excitement for another year of alpine sports.
Many consider the pioneer of Usul skiing to be an ambitious young Usul by the name of Berta Hanover. Way back in the month of Storing of Year Two, young Berta spent most of her time in the snow. Berta and her friends were of the sporty type, but only Berta had the ability to withstand the cold. In the summer months, she could be found playing Gormball or engaging in Extreme Potato Counting, but while living in Happy Valley while it was entirely snowed over, she found it difficult to keep up the same sporty behavior.
During the fall and winter of Y2, Berta spent days and days running around the slopes of Terror Mountain. She realized the potential of these snowy hills and drop-offs, and she began to see if she could make a sport out of them. The first ski course that Berta fashioned starts behind Taelia, the Snow Faerie’s house and extends for 400 meters down a gentle slope. Called the Inaugural Course, each Usul Skiing Season features a special event commemorated by Berta herself. Legend has it that Berta first travelled down this course on skis fashioned from the floorboards of her father’s house.
It took a few years after that novel development for the Usul Alpine Championships became a nationally recognized event. By Year Four, however, the season was already drawing massive crowds, expert ski gear designers, and hefty talent. Year Five bore witness to the introduction of one of the greatest skiers who ever lived – an old Usul who just went by the name Daru. Daru, despite his old age and seemingly feeble stature, has some gumption and gusto when it comes to alpine sports.
Daru lived where Usuls did not often venture, on the side of Techo Mountain on Mystery Island. Daru lived on a very steep slope, and in doing his daily errands, he learned the ways of manipulating gravity to master the slippery edges. Living in such a remote place, Daru did not learn about alpine racing until a while after its introduction. Upon first hearing about it though, Daru knew that it was his calling. He abandoned his tropical home and made his way to the peak of Terror Mountain. He went on to win gold medals in many championships, but more importantly, paved a considerable number of Terror Mountain’s most famous slopes. Usuls can now ski alongside the Darblats on one of his more famous routes. A plaque commemorating Daru’s contributions to alpine sports can be seen near this spot.
The history of Usul skiing in Terror Mountain has not been all fine and dandy, however. Things took a turn for the unfortunate in Year Eleven when a host of events had to be cancelled because of Snowbeast attacks. The Snowbeast, who laid dormant for years during these events, woke up during a particularly raucous race between two fierce rival twins, Addie and Maddie Blue. The cheering and shouting woke up the Snowbeast, who then chased the competitors and fans alike away from the sporting site. The Snowbeast then rampaged, destroying signs and terrorizing Terror Mountain.
The response to this tragedy was one of beautiful camaraderie, however. Many of the competitors banded together to subdue the Snowbeast with specially crafted snowballs from the Ice Caves’ Ice Crystal Shop. Celebratory hot cocoa was shared when the Snowbeast finally returned to its cave, and the events continued, albeit slightly postponed. The Snowbeast, still an object of terror, has learned not to incite fear at such a respected event.
Perhaps the most heartwarming story is that of the charitability of the Negg Faerie during the most recent Usul Alpine Championships of Y17. There was a down-trodden yet talented Usul by the name of Scrap. Scrap was abandoned by his friends and family who thought it was foolish to pursue a career in competitive sports. Scrap’s unlikely story turned into one of beautiful kindness, when the Negg Faerie offered him housing and sponsorship. With meals full of healthy neggs, Scrap went on to win silver and make his name known among the alpine sports world.
Even more, Scrap went on to use his winnings to furnish a school for underprivileged Usuls to learn how to ski. This school is placed in the Ice Caves, and has funding for years and years of future students to come. Daru even teaches a course at this school, where he gives accounts of places to ski other than Terror Mountain.
The Ski Lodge Murder Mystery of early Neopets days can be saved for another recounting as that tale is hefty enough for its own article. But rest assured that that played an integral role in spooky ski tradition.
The history of Usul skiing is truly complex. It’s a tradition woven with many stories, some good, some bad, some heartwarming, and some scary. The future of Usul skiing truly looks bright, though. The competitors this year are gearing up for a solid season that starts on the 27th day of the month of Storing. Here’s to a great season of more exciting stories to come!