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Futili-tree

Jon Maletz
The Aspen Times

ASPEN ” I was reveling in seemingly endless powder one recent afternoon, arcing confident turns in unison with the tones of the meticulously-crafted playlist blaring in my earbuds.

I could do little to hold in the smile that began forming at the corners of my mouth ” and why would I want to?

As I let my skis hang and stretched out for a ride on the Couch, my goggled eyes scanned the backside of Bell Mountain ” from Seibert’s to Back of Bell 1 ” then paused on Knowlton’s. I watched a skier (one with much better technique than I, mind you) negotiate the soft snow from top to bottom.

I had to give it a try.

It seemed like a good idea at the time.

I leapt off the lift, slowed momentarily to slide my gloves into the pole straps and jetted right to Knowlton’s. I slid right past the sign and stopped a few yards farther down the catwalk, eyeing a somewhat intimidating and steeper line through dense trees.

I adjusted my boot straps (I’ve studied the habits of avid skiers, and most of them do this), then ran through a list of tips I picked up on the pages of various magazines ” and from the ski instructor conversing with two clients on the gondola ride.

Keep an athletic stance. Make sure your shins are touching the front of your boots. Keep your poles where you can see them. Look at the spaces in between the trees, not the trees. Ski like you’re trying to impress a girl (my own variation of “be confident”).

And what happened? One turn into my run, I inevitably abandoned every piece of advice. My muscles tensed as I eyed a pine directly in my path, I got caught in the backseat and my arms began flailing behind me. I looked like a Pinto weaving back and forth across the median with both doors open.

It wasn’t a good combination. My right ski popped off, and I was sent tumbling downhill. If not for a large pile of snow, I most assuredly would have hugged a tree. (I’ve done it before, and it’s not as inviting as it sounds.)

I took a moment to take in what just happened ” and ponder how my boots came to rest above my head. I struggled to my feet, then began sidestepping up the hill to retrieve my ski. I haven’t sweat that much since my last date.

I spotted it peering out from a tree well. My self-confidence still is buried out there, though.

It seemed like a good idea at the time.

Aspen Highlands received 7 inches of new snow in the past 24 hours, according to the Aspen Skiing Co.’s Friday morning report. Snowmass picked up 6 inches, Aspen Mountain got 5 inches and Buttermilk got 4 inches.

The Colorado Avalanche Information Center report for Friday, Jan. 8:

The avalanche danger for the Aspen zone is high on N-NE-E-SE-S aspects near and above treeline. Elsewhere, the danger is considerable. Go to http://avalanche.state.co.us/ for the full report for the Aspen zone and statewide conditions.


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