No walk in the park
I often hang out with middle schoolers. High schoolers, too. For some reason I still venture into the terrain park, even though I’m 25 and I suck at riding rails.Admittedly, I was a better snowboarder back when I was in my teens. I didn’t worry about insurance deductibles or emergency room bills then.Growing up in Boulder, I would head to the mountains nearly every weekend during the winter with my pack of shredder friends. We’d either hop on the bus and head to Eldora (the windiest resort in North America) or someone would convince their parents to give them the car so we could drive to Breckenridge. Then we would do laps in the snowboard park, or freeride looking for little jumps on the sides of runs to practice 180s and 360s.I picked up a lot of bruises, but it was always fun. My heroes were Todd Richards, Terje Haakonsen and the great Jim Rippey. I still remember my first Rippey pro model board, the Mission 56, which had a sizzling hot redhead on the base wearing a skimpy nurse’s outfit. I paid for it after a summer of mowing lawns. Every once in a while at Breck, we’d see Richards destroying the halfpipe, and we’d all stare in awe, as if stumbling upon Michael Jordan in his backyard.The cool thing is that Richards and Haakonsen still kill it, even though Richards is now 36 and Terje – the future of snowboarding before Shaun White – is 31.It’s one of the reasons why I still ride the park, I guess. Although now I do it alone.I usually trail behind a group of fearless youngsters, trying to build up enough courage to slide a kinked rail or launch off a huge kicker.I’m not half bad in the halfpipe, which really means that I’m only good on one side. I also don’t try spins as much anymore. For some reason, I have this unshakable fear that I’m going to fall and dislocate my shoulder and lose the rest of the season.The funny thing is, it’s the fear itself that lures me back into the park from time to time. I don’t think there’s anything comparable to facing something that really scares you, then overcoming it. For me, staring down a huge kicker, then pushing aside all the butterflies and pointing my board downhill keeps me feeling young and free. It lets me forget about all the trivial things that come with growing up.If only for a short while.Snow reportThe Aspen Skiing Co. was reporting 2 inches of new snow on local slopes at 5:35 a.m. today. At 6:30 a.m., snow was continuing to pile up, however, so expect a full-fledged powder day by the time the lifts open.Avalanche reportThe backcountry avalanche danger in the Roaring Fork Valley is moderate with pockets of considerable 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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Friends of Colorado Avalanche Information Center has contributed to the state’s avalanche center for several years to help with forecasting for backcountry visitors. It cannot hold in-person fundraisers this year so its asking supporters to sign up for an annual membership.