On the Hill: Flaky perceptions | AspenTimes.com

On the Hill: Flaky perceptions

Nate Peterson

It’s hard for some people around the country to fathom, but the 2005-06 ski season in Colorado is already two weeks old.There are pictures to prove it. When Loveland opened Oct. 14, The Associated Press sent not one but two photographers to capture skiers and snowboarders getting their first lift-served turns this season.When Loveland’s neighbor on the other side of the Continental Divide, Arapahoe Basin, opened Sunday, the AP was also there. The funniest thing about those pictures – at least the ones from Loveland’s opening day – was the credibility gap between what the photos portrayed and what it was really like to be there.I know. I was one of the wackos from Aspen (believe me, there were others) who made the two-hour drive to Loveland that Friday morning to get in turns. Those turns came after a 25- to 30-minute wait in line, followed by a slow climb up the mountain in an outdated three-person chair.The one run that was open was a narrow blue cruiser made up of uneven man-made snow. I heard more than one person refer to the crowded thoroughfare down the mountain as the “White Ribbon of Death.” To see the AP pictures, however, you might have thought Loveland was in midseason form.At least five of the 10 or 11 shots that hit the wire showed skiers and snowboarders slicing through the air with no trace of snow in view. There were also a couple of shots of snowboarders riding rails. There was only one picture (as far as I can recollect) of just a skier – one middle-aged, average skier – leaning into a turn. That was to go along with two shots of the first chair of the season heading up the mountain.The perception: Loveland was one big terrain park on opening day, and everybody – or almost everybody – was throwing down.The reality: A four-hour drive probably wasn’t worth the gas money for less than 1,000 feet of vertical and two lame fun boxes to entertain the jibber crowd.But maybe that’s missing the big picture. People are skiing in Colorado. And pictures of people skiing in Colorado – especially pictures like the ones the AP shipped out – make people from outside Colorado want to come here and spend money. And that’s not such a bad thing.