Friday, February 10, 2017

Snow, Aspen and Skiing

I hope all of my friends on the East Coast who were affected by yesterday's snow storm are digging out and are safe. Several businesses I purchase from had sent out emails that they were going to be closed because of the storm, and I know the afternoon news reports showed some pretty nasty weather. The only person I can imagine jumping up and down for joy would be the husband of a friend. He loves to snowboard. He may not have been on the mountain yesterday (I have no idea if the runs were closed while the snow was coming down), but I'm sure he's pushing to get onto the slopes as soon as possible now.

I learned to ski on the slopes of Buttermilk Mountain at Buttermilk Ski Resort. As
the mountains around Aspen go, this is the mildest and the one more geared to
beginners. It sill has some more challenging slopes higher up, but the lower
slopes were, and still are, very beginner friendly. 

I used to ski; I was raised in Denver and Aspen, Colorado, after all. Skiing is a business out there and an almost mandatory activity. My parents were not athletic or sports lovers and they weren't fans of snow, so we lived in our house in Aspen for the summer months while we attended musical and theatrical events put on by the Aspen Institute. The house was rented for the winter months to people who did love to ski. In fact, the entryway of our newer house had ski and boot storage right there, inside the door in a mud room, before you entered the actual house. It helped to keep things neat and clean on the interior floors.

At the time I learned, fiberglass and composite skis
were just becoming common. I had a set of wooden skis
very similar to this set. I threw them in the dumpster at
college after wrecking my knee on the slopes of
Eldora Mountain Resort while skiing with college friends. 

My cousins, however, lived in Aspen full-time. They went to school up there, at least through their high school years. I was invited up to spend a week or so with them every now and again, and that's where I learned how to downhill ski - on some of the best slopes in the nation. I had great instruction, wonderful snow, and excellent slopes. My equipment, however, was second and third hand, so not very good. Maybe if I had better equipment I might have enjoyed the entire event more, but my parents couldn't afford to rent some, so my aunt gave me some really old skis, boots, and poles.

Cable bindings - what a joke. I really hated those things. The other student's
skis were much newer and had step-in bindings. So much easier and faster.
I blame my blown knee a few years later on my bindings, and threw the skis away
since they were a set - a really bad set. I kept my poles for many years, though,
in hopes of hitting the slopes again with better equipment. Never happened! 

My skis were cable bindings. Any of you familiar with those? We're talking 1950's-1960's old. The skis were wooden with metal edges and they weighed a ton. Of course they were long, too, and probably not sized very well for my height. Add heavy leather boots, the old wooden skis and poles that might have been, but probably weren't, aluminum, and I felt like I had just put on an additional 50 pounds. Maneuvering in those skis was well-neigh impossible. I was a figure skater, not a skier, and I always felt I would have done really well with shorter, lighter skis. But those weren't available until after I had given up on the sport.

I think snowboarding looks like a lot of fun. I was a skateboarder when I was
younger, so I think the mechanics of a snowboard would be sensible for
me. Unfortunately, I'm over 60 with bad bones. I won't be hitting the slopes
for skiing or snowboarding within my foreseeable future. 

So if you have an opportunity to take advantage of this East Coast snowfall (or snow in your own area of the world), rent good equipment. I might have really enjoyed downhill skiing, but too many things were stacked against me. The mountains were (and still are, of course) really spectacular. I wish I had been able to take better advantage of them. Have a wonderful Friday. We're starting in to a week of much warmer weather now and it's already 20 F/-6.66 C. A veritable heat wave compared to yesterday!

No comments: