Roger MaroltCluster PhobicSnowmass, CO Colorado

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November 20, 2012
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Roger Marolt: It's tough to ski in knee-deep B.S.

In this day of advanced communication technology you would think that we could give our visitors better, more accurate up-to-the-minute information. As it turns out, we're serving up more baloney than a Pizza Hut stromboli. I was on a United Express flight into Aspen last week and after the captain had turned off the "fasten seatbelt" sign, you could hear the collective groan. "There's no snow!" A man behind me in the seats adjacent to the lavatory muttered, "They said they got 10 inches the day before yesterday day." You should have seen his kids' faces.I didn't have the heart to tell him that I had departed from Sardy Field when that last storm hit us; that I had driven to the airport on practically dry roads; that my flight had taken off without a mechanical. That "storm" dropped all of 2 inches in my yard. We might have gotten the purported 10 inches on the top of Pyramid Peak.We have to be more careful. I don't know who told that guy that we had 10 fresh inches of powder on the ground two days before he excitedly departed for his Thanksgiving ski vacation. He may have gotten his information from an over-eager hotel reservationist. Maybe he got it from a Skico. tweet. He could have gleaned it from Lorenzo Semple's perpetually-optimistic-about-skiing newspaper column. I don't know. The points are that he got super-exaggerated snowpack information and he got it from us.I'm not accusing anyone of purposefully lying about our conditions in order to trick money out of tourists. I'm saying we don't have a clue about what a 10-inch dump of champagne powder is. Let me put it to you this way; we probably get two or three, maybe four, storms a season that uniformly blanket our slopes with anything approaching a foot of new snow, yet almost every other day all winter long you can hear people talking about skiing a foot or more of powder here, there, and everywhere a hundred dollar lift ticket may have led them. We run the risk of our message about ski conditions becoming like a Kay Jewelers commercial; as in the "every kiss begins with K" commercials. We know what they mean, but kiss also includes "kiss my butt," "kiss of death," and "kiss it goodbye." They all begin with "K"! I'm afraid it's where we're heading if we aren't less flippant about fluff, as in fluffy white snow. After Skico finally came up with a great marketing campaign this year, we don't want the skiing public to turn it into "Before Aspen, knee-deep powder covered more than the first buckle of your ski boots."It all about education; for "us," not "them." Ironically, most tourists seem better able to gauge just about how much new snow actually falls on our slopes. They are not jaded by one-upmanship, as we are. Our lack of depth perception might be due to forever trying to justify the cost of our Premier passes. More ironically, the worse the ski season is (a.k.a. last year) the more exaggerated our claims. Most ironically of all, skiing really doesn't need hyping. It's pretty damn fun, deep powder day or otherwise! When we exaggerate pow-pow, it's kind of like pooh-poohing ordinary days on the slopes. Powder education involves two things. The first is to familiarize ourselves with a standard ruler. If you hold one next to just about any ski boot, it is easy to see that a foot of powder will just about bury your entire boot. Then comes the hard part. You have to look at this and admit that rarely in your lifetime have you ever skied through fresh snow deeper than your boot tops.The second part of the education is to understand the physics of modern skiing. If you grasp the concepts, you will realize that skiing thigh-deep in powder is as impossible as an apple floating up into the sky and making a pie there. Modern skis are fat. Fat skis float. Skis that float never drop more than a few inches (like four, maybe) into powder snow. Whether you realize it or not, that is why you like them. Get over it. Therefore, thigh-deep powder is impossible. Theorem proved! Now, let's get out there and tell tourists the truth. We'll all feel better about the skiing.Roger Marolt will settle for skiing on three feet of honest hard-pack at this point. Contact him at

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The Aspen Times Updated Nov 20, 2012 04:49PM Published Nov 20, 2012 04:49PM Copyright 2012 The Aspen Times. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.