Rick Carroll

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December 15, 2009
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On The hill: Play on words

ASPEN - Whenever we play word games such as Scrabble or Boggle, my 10-year-old son often pulls out words that he hopes are actual words, simply because of their phonetic value. Non-words that sound like words, to a fifth grader, at least - such as "fon" - come to mind.

Friday night, he employed the same strategy.

"Is 'gaper' a word?" he asked.

It is around here, I told him. Sure, it might not be a word according to Webster's Dictionary, but you'll find this definition of "gaper" in the Urban Dictionary: "A gaper is a skier or snowboarder who is completely clueless. Usually distinguished by their bright-colored clothes and a gaper gap, the gap between goggles and a helmet/hat."

This happened to be the night before our first day on the mountain together. As is the case every ski season, I made the pitch for Aspen Mountain, while he argued for Buttermilk. Which added some irony to this debate, since he skis and I board.

But the kid relishes the terrain parks, of which Buttermilk has a few, so I caved in (as usual), and we headed there Saturday morning. As we assembled our gear in the parking lot, I reminded Quinton what a gaper is.

"Don't act like one of them, especially since you live here," I told him.

He laughed, and proceeded to show me he's evolved into quite the anti-gaper, joyfully sticking jumps like he's been doing them all of his life (he pretty much has).

As much as locals like to turn their noses up to Buttermilk, it sure beats the snot out of sitting on the couch, especially when you've got a 10-year-old hamming it up on the jumps and rails at Red's Rover. The Crazy Train Terrain Park was closed that day, so he'll have to exploit its landscape another time.

Tiehack had some nice snow, though it was a bit crusty down lower, and Quinton led the downhill charges, a bittersweet truth that he is outperforming me in some activities, but will have to wait his turn in others. And that includes Boggle.


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The Aspen Times Updated Dec 15, 2009 06:33AM Published Dec 15, 2009 12:14AM Copyright 2009 The Aspen Times. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.