Hey, it was a great ‘Sköl
January 17, 2007
Aspen, CO ColoradoFrom what friends have said and from what I read in the newspapers, Wintersköl was a major bust this year. To be more specific, they say the Saturday parade was a disaster – no one marching, no one watching. What a mess!There are no locals left in town. No one cares. There’s no ‘Sköl spirit anymore.That’s what I heard. That’s what I read.But, hey, the Wintersköl I experienced Saturday in Aspen was great. It was a perfect old-time, all-time “Toast to Winter.”Why? Well, to begin with, it was a powder day. Skies were gray; snow was falling; we went skiing.My wife and I started the day with a stop at Pomeroy Sports to pick up a couple of pairs of the new wide skis – perfect for powder.We got there a little late (powder day or not, we sleep in on weekends). But even midmorning, the atmosphere in the rental shop was electric. The always-enthusiastic crew working there was even more excited than usual, racing around, revved up with high energy and overwhelming good spirits.”We’re closing from 11 ’til 2 today,” one of them explained. “The boss said it’s OK.””Wintersköl?” I asked.He gave me a look of disbelief and gestured out the window. “It’s a powder day!”A young woman came in to pick up her skis. The guy behind the counter glanced at her credit card and misread her name. It was something like LaMotte, but he thought the “M” was an “H.” So he shouted out “Skis for LaHot!”Everyone laughed and for the next 10 minutes, there were regular cries of “LaHot!” She was, in fact, kind of hot (at least I think so – it’s hard to tell with all that ski gear), but that wasn’t really the point. It was just a burst of enthusiasm and energy. Everyone was excited.Because it was a powder day! And they were going skiing!Once we got on the mountain, the skiing was great. Late as we were, there wasn’t much untracked powder, but on Bell and in the dumps, there was still plenty of semi-tracked powder – and it was deep and light. And those new skis really are extraordinary.On our first trip up the gondola, we wound up sharing the cabin with friends. They’d gotten there early in the day and talked about the huge mob of eager powderhounds waiting for the lifts to start running. We had a great conversation on the ride up, and then we all took off skiing hard.It was that kind of a day. We ran into more old friends. We skied some great runs. Eventually we gave up – exhausted, all skied out – about 3 o’clock.Tell me that wasn’t a perfect Wintersköl.Look, I’ve enjoyed Wintersköl just about every way possible over the years. I’ve marched in the parade. I’ve gotten so drunk, so early in the day that I sat on the curb on front of the Jerome and threw up on my shoes during the parade (while unsympathetic bystanders threw snowballs at me). I’ve skied in the torchlight descent. One year I emceed the Talent Show. A couple of years I did the announcing at the Snowmass Ski Splash. For several years I marched around, looking like an idiot, wearing an armband that said “Wintersköl Sucks!”One way or another, those were all great Wintersköl experiences (except maybe for the throwing up on my shoes).And, sure, maybe 25 or 30 years ago, when I was skiing a lot more days than I do now, I might have skipped even a pretty good powder day to march in the parade (or to start drinking too early).But I don’t care about that. All I know is that this was one great Wintersköl. And I bet those early-morning powderhounds at the lift and all the guys from Pomeroy will agree.Sköl!Andy Stone is former editor of The Aspen Times. His e-mail address is email@example.com.