Colbert: A 100-day journey to the pin |

Colbert: A 100-day journey to the pin

Aspen Times sports editor Austin Colbert takes a selfie in the Silver Queen Gondola after reaching 100 days for the season on Friday, April 21, 2023, on Aspen Mountain.
Austin Colbert/The Aspen Times

My favorite hill to ride is Aspen Mountain, and it’s not close. Even after 90-plus days this season, my love for Ajax hasn’t waned. But the days I remember most were from when my co-worker, Audrey Ryan, would drag me to Snowmass for some reason or another. I have my personal qualms with that ski area — I have a talent for finding every flat trail — but the company was always nice.

Reflecting back on 100 days this season, the snowboarding isn’t always what comes to mind, as good as the snow has been. But reaching that milestone for the first time has been a challenge years in the making, and it’s important to take pride in your accomplishments.

My 100th day came this past Friday, April 21. Like the majority of my days, it came on Aspen Mountain. I made quite a push these past few weeks — I can’t recall how many straight days I did, but it was a lot — to reach the century mark. I was tempted at times to call it off and accept a final day count somewhere in the 90s, but the disappointment from my followers would have been a lot to bear.

After all, I began the season with 36 straight days. At no point was that ever the plan. I had no goals entering the season in regard to day count and never thought I’d give my previous best mark of 76 days a run for its money. I was in a similar position to push for 100 days during the winter of 2019-20, but a day after reaching No. 76, a pandemic shut down our chairlifts for the season.

Thankfully, when I hit 76 this winter, the Silver Queen Gondola didn’t slow down for a coronavirus, nor did the amount of snow we were getting. I powered through, finally reaching 100 on Friday (thank you, Skico, for the extra week of riding), with 101 scheduled for closing day on Sunday.

Aspen Times sports editor Austin Colbert, left, takes a photo with co-worker Audrey Ryan during the World Cup ski races on March 3 on Aspen Mountain.
Audrey Ryan/The Aspen Times

This was my seventh winter in Aspen and my eighth total on a snowboard — I spent one season in Steamboat Springs prior to coming to the Roaring Fork Valley — so I’ve come a long way from that Kansas kid who moved straight from the flatlands to a ski town back in May 2015.

During that time, I had never come close to reaching the century mark, though I’ve had it in my head that to be a true valley local, one must earn one of Aspen Skiing Co.’s coveted 100-day pins. This is hogwash, of course, but I’ll admit getting to 100 days does give me a bit of self-validation, a warm glow.

For most of the season, I’ve been updating my day count on a regular basis via Instagram (@austindcolbert), which is where the peer pressure came into play. People knew I was closing in on 100 days and kept asking about it. At some point, I felt obligated to get there or risk being disowned by friends and co-workers.

That said, reaching 100 days should only be about the personal journey. I got there because I wanted to say I had. It wasn’t to prove I’m some rad snowboarder — trust me, I’m not — nor was it to try and one-up anyone in day count, as there are plenty who hit 100 days long before I did.

Aspen Times sports editor Austin Colbert rides the Silver Queen Gondola on April 18 on Aspen Mountain.
Austin Colbert/The Aspen Times

But I got there, and I’m proud to say I have. It took more years than intended. It took friends like Audrey dragging you out, even if she preferred Snowmass for some odd reason. It also took a lot of stubbornness and something bordering on madness to keep grinding out days regardless of conditions or other outside factors.

But that’s kind of what makes us Aspen, isn’t it? We are a bit stubborn and a bit crazy – but in the best ways. I tip my cap to anyone else who reached 100 days this season. Heck, if you got to 50, I’d call that a darn good winter. And to all you uphillers and backcountry animals who may not get an official day counted toward your ski pass, you have my respect. We know you’re the real kings and queens.

Now, I don’t know about you, but after 100 days of shredding, I’m not opposed to some summer sunshine. Then again, if it keeps snowing like this, maybe Skico will let us go for 200.