December 24, 2005
I’ve been skiing for 10-plus years. And while every season is different from the one before ” new mountains, variable snow conditions, lighter skis ” one thing has remained constant: I steer clear of most runs under a lift.
Maybe it’s because I revel in the solitude of the glades and the narrow, tree-lined trails far from the crowds. Maybe it’s that sinking feeling that always seems to creep in my head; the fear I’m going to embarrass myself in one, grand display of uncoordination.
It seemed only fitting that on my first day ever at Aspen Highlands I would come face-to-face with my fear.
The day started off so well, too. I was so confident about my turning and agility on the hard packed snow, I even contemplated dropping into St. Moritz ” until I peaked over the edge and my legs began to tremble uncontrollably.
After three hours and more than 10 runs, I decided to call it a day, carving wide turns on the flat cruisers towards the bottom. I stopped briefly on Upper Jerome to try and clear my goggles. My skis crossed.
One second later I was sliding on my back ” skis facing uphill ” down a steep pitch. I came to rest near the feet of a group of children and their instructor almost 100 yards later. They didn’t say a word. They didn’t have to.
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As I stood up and tried to shake out the snow that had crept into the back of my snowpants, I glanced upward, hoping the skiers on the Thunderbowl lift had missed the theatrics; one couple had turned around in their seat and were sharing a good laugh.
I flashed a sarcastic grin, then pointed my tips downhill as quickly as possible.
At least I had done my part to spread some Christmas cheer.
Jon Maletz’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org