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A test for the best

Jon Maletz

You think you’re the valley’s best skier?Then here’s a challenge: Pull a 540 off the bottom kicker at Snowmass’ Pipeline Park – and don’t forget the mute grab. Better yet, hike up the side of Magic Carpet on Buttermilk and take turns with the Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club’s ski jumpers flying (literally) off a 25-meter hill. I can hear the heads of Aspen’s so-called strongest skiers deflating as I write. After two days watching AVSC’s young athletes, I am simply awed. In the park, skiers pulled off sex changes (it’s a trick) on rails, corked their 720s, even approached and landed jumps switch – on purpose, no less. I once tried skiing backward on my twin-tips but wound up crashing into a snowbank; I hope my friends make better physical therapists and doctors than they did that day as navigators.On Buttermilk, the young nordic jumping team members fearlessly pointed both boards downhill, gathering enough speed to hit the landing hill. The thought of face-planting or taking a fall didn’t even cross the mind of 9-year-old Sevrin Mathys; he just wanted a moment to rest after hiking up with his pair of skis, which had to be twice his height. I, too, needed to catch my breath after making the trek carrying a pencil and a notepad. I may sound like a wimp, but I’d be willing to bet that notepad had at least 200 sheets of paper in it.I joked with the team’s coach, Craig Ward, claiming I wanted to give the jump a shot. Ward proceeded to ask me my shoe size and offered to let me borrow his boots, which were amazingly my exact size. I immediately regretted opening my mouth and even tried to hide behind a photographer.Instead of taking on the challenge – one that looked so natural and yet so daunting – I was thinking about my last paycheck stub. I was curious whether my new health insurance had kicked in.Snow reportThe Aspen Skiing Co. measured 3 inches of new snow at Aspen Highlands at 4 a.m. today. Snowmass and Buttermilk each picked up 2 inches overnight, and Aspen Mountain has 1 inch of new stuff.Avalanche reportThe backcountry avalanche danger in the Roaring Fork Valley is moderate with pockets of considerable on NW-E-SE aspects at and above treeline. Below treeline the danger is moderate.Avalanche danger details provided by the Roaring Fork Avalanche Center. For more information, call 920-1664 or visit http://www.rfavalanche.org. For conditions around the state, call the Colorado Avalanche Information Center at 920-1664 or visit geosurvey.state.co.us/avalanche.


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