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A blank canvas

Eben Harrell

Man, it feels good to write this column. You see, I don’t suck at writing. I stare at this blank white page and I know that I’ll be able to traverse safely to the bottom, demonstrating as I go at least a basic proficiency that doesn’t lead to total embarrassment.This is not the case for me when it comes to skiing. A fresh ski run is just another canvas onto which I can plaster my latest humiliation. I am 6 foot 4, long limbed, with a strong instinct for self-preservation. So when I lose my balance in any situation – be it in socks, skates or skis – my efforts to keep myself upright lead to wildly comical performances that only I seem to realize are the stuff of hip-breaking (if not heartbreaking) tragedy.I was not thrilled when my girlfriend suggested last week that we “hit the slopes together.” Ever careful to protect my fragile sense of dignity, I insisted we choose a mountain that would situate me as far away as possible from anyone who might recognize me or with whom I might ever again have even the most casual contact.”Yep, Sunlight it’s going to have to be,” I told Alexandra, landing an already hypothermic index finger on the map of the hood of our car.Sunlight doesn’t seem to be on the maps of many other Aspen skiers, which seems a shame to me. It’s a nice place, manned by nice people with some very nice runs. The views, too, are spectacular.At least that’s what my girlfriend tells me. What I can report is that the kiddy-pen at Sunlight is remarkably similar to the kiddy-pen at Snowmass and Buttermilk and probably at any mountain that allows inexperienced, uncoordinated novices like me on its slopes. Also I can report that the food at the restaurant is greasy, served in large portions, and perfect for anyone who spends the afternoon eating away his loneliness.Which is what I did. Sulking because I still suck at skiing and because my shoes were stolen from the locker room.But hey, I didn’t fall down in front of Alexandra, or anyone else I’ll ever have to see again. And hopefully she’ll still love me when she sees I can at least write a column.

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