December 4, 2006
It sounds like a great job: Work at The Aspen Times, get your own apartment in town, a ski pass and the opportunity to spend your days on the mountain shooting photos.Who wouldn’t want that gig?Before you send in your résumé, you might want to consider the Curse of Conrad. That’s Conrad as in Paul Edward Conrad, Aspen Times photographer since 2001.In January 2003, Paul tore cartilage behind his kneecap while shooting photos on his snowboard at Highlands. A year later, he broke his wrist while shooting at Ajax. Then, in January 2005, it was a broken ankle while riding at Highlands with local Olympian Chris Klug.If you’ve ever met Paul, it’s easy to blame these misfortunes on a perpetual string of bad luck: The guy breaks or loses his cell phone about every 15 minutes and is constantly working on his Jeep, which seems to go kaput whenever a vacation is planned or a structure fire is raging downvalley.But here’s where it’s gets weird. Just last week, the Monday before the first powder day of the season, new Aspen Times photog Jordan Curet twisted her knee while snapping shots on Ajax. A trip to the ER revealed tiny tears in the MCL, which put her off snow for two weeks.After we learned Jordan was going to be OK and wouldn’t have to sit out the season, we of course gave her some good-natured ribbing. A number of Aspen Times staffers even started calling her “Paula” – a nickname she has yet to embrace fully.With Jordan sidelined, and Paul banned from shooting on the mountain because of liability reasons, the Times found itself in a pickle. How can a newspaper in the best ski town in the U.S. not have ski shots in the paper, especially during a week full of powder days?Like the model employees they are, reporters Joel Stonington and Charles “Franz Klammer” Agar – both of whom are capable shooters – stepped up and volunteered for some on-mountain photo duties. Really, that’s like asking someone to walk under ladders all day or shatter mirrors in the back alley for an hourly wage.Franz wasn’t actually shooting photos for the Times on Sunday when he took a tumble at Snowmass and ended up with a concussion and a strained neck. But seriously, what are the odds?The Curse of Conrad is real.You might want to ditch that camera, Joel. And avoid any black cats if you can.The Aspen Times, Aspen, Colo.