Meet Johnny B |

Meet Johnny B

Devon O'Neil
Special to Vail Daily
Aspen CO Colorado

Vail ” John L. Botterell ” “Johnny B” to those who know him ” drove into town in 1985, a young Canadian armed with two years’ experience loading lifts at a ski area west of Toronto. Before long he’d filled out an application to do the same work at Breckenridge Ski Resort.

He has learned about society, seen his ski days dwindle to about seven a year and agonized countless hours over the demise of the singles line. Here, he shares his thoughts on skiing and life, some prompted, others just a glimpse at a free spirit’s personality:

“I call it ‘lifter.’ ‘Liftie’ sounds too … I don’t know … ‘lifter,’ I like that better.

It doesn’t take me long to figure out what people are going to do. I’ve seen just about every which way there is to load a chair. … I was working the bottom of the Colorado [SuperChair] yesterday. One guy, it was amazing, he came out so quickly and he had so much force coming through the gate, and one ski ended up crossed over the other, and he ended up flat on his face. His ski pole got jammed in and went flying over to the corner of the building. It was amazing. I stopped the lift, helped him up, got him back on his feet. They want us to be really nice to these people, not lose our temper, so I didn’t say anything to him, other than, “Are you all right?”

A lot of these people in society now, they don’t communicate as much as they used to in the olden days. They used to, you know, queue up and ride with other people on a double chair. Like at the bottom of Snowflake lift, they’re all standing around, and I have to yell out every 10 minutes, “If you get together and pair up, it’s a lot better! It’ll be quicker for you! I’m here till 4 o’clock, but if you want to get on the lift and get on your way and make use of the day of skiing, you might as well pair up!” But they don’t do that anymore. They all ride single because everybody’s afraid to talk to other people.

People thank us, but they really don’t have to. They’re here on their vacation. They’re paying big money for this. You know the ones that don’t want to be talked to. They look away from you. They’re looking at the other side when they could be looking at your side. It’s OK. Just as long as they sit in the middle of the chair.

Snowmass picked up 5 inches over the past 24 hours, according to the Aspen Skiing Co.’s Saturday morning snow report. Aspen Mountain and Highlands both got 3 inches; Buttermilk got 2.

The Colorado Avalanche Information Center report for the Aspen zone on Saturday, Jan. 25:

A long period of west and southwest winds that were strong enough to transport snow will keep the avalanche danger at considerable on north, northeast, east and southeast aspects near and above treeline. Winds have created some tender, fresh wind slabs on these easterly aspects. Natural avalanches will be possible today on these aspects and human-triggered ones probable. The avalanche danger on all other aspects near and above treeline and all slopes below treeline is rated moderate.

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