On the Hill: Back on the slopes
November 24, 2006
Since those first tracks on opening day at Aspen last week, I’ve learned the same lesson over and over: I still love skiing, even after hiatus of nearly 10 years.I started before age 5 and was running gates by 8 on the icy slopes of Seven Springs in Western Pennsylvania. Our family took regular trips to the likes of Killington and Stowe in Vermont, and we had a memorable vacation in Alta, Utah, where I learned to ski powder up to my eyes.But I got burnt out on racing in my early teens – I took up wrestling instead – and while I still enjoyed skiing for years, I did it less and less.I spent part of a ski season in Vail after college and that really ruined me. I got spoiled. Once you’ve hit fresh champagne fluff in the back bowls and ski to Minturn for margaritas at the day’s end, there just isn’t any going back to a few hours drive for East Coast hard-pack at $70 a pop.Sure, I’d march out the old 210 cm Kastle racing boards to impress a girl and enjoyed a few surreal days of skiing when I lived in Japan, but I more or less dropped the sport.The smell of wet wool and packed lunches would still take me back to those pre-dawn family Buick rides from the suburbs of Pittsburgh to the mountains. And a drop in the temperature still woke something deep inside me, but graduate school, travel and life’s twists and turns kept me off the hill.I arrived in Aspen in August, and I keep hearing stories punctuated by adjectives like “epic” and “gnar” about skiing the steeps here. So I opted for the Premier Pass and dropped a wad of cash on equipment at the November ski swap.I thought I’d have to relearn, especially with these ridiculously short skis, but from the first turn it’s been like I picked up right where I left off.The Aspen Times, Aspen, Colo.