Coach’s Corner: New year, new lift
January 20, 2016
I was wrong. I feel like now that it's in place, a lot of people were wrong.
I'm referring to the new High Alpine chairlift. I had a lot of trepidation going into this season in regard to the new quad. I don't believe I was alone.
I was scared it would cut into some of my favorite glades on the Snowmass ski area. I was concerned it would be an invite to those who weren't necessarily ready for the terrain it accessed. I was worried the top of the mountain might become as crowded as Fanny Hill can be during the holiday break.
Now that a bit of the season has passed, I'm pleasantly relieved. I was there for opening day. That was a bit of a bust, as some will recall. Mother Nature can be a fickle lady. I was there the next day with my Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club crew of shredders. They are between the ages of 10 and 12, but don't be quick to discount their ability due to their age. As a newly appointed Development II coach, I inherited quite a talented group of athletes. The new lift doesn't intimidate them the way the old two-seater did, and the terrain it accesses excites them.
They've been in that terrain before; the only difference is now they get there more quickly and in more comfort.
In regard to the runs being overly crowded, the chairs are spaced far enough apart to allow for the same number of people to access the terrain in the same amount of time — or so it feels to me. The difference is now we as chairlift riders are not subjected to the cold and slow ride provided in years past. Now we've got ourselves a more comfortable, padded, four-person chair to get us to the top in style. That means more teammates and friends to ride up with, converse with, plan with and get excited with while eagerly awaiting some of the steepest and deepest terrain Snowmass has to offer.
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It also provides much easier access to more runs. We experienced a benefit from this instantly last weekend during the fresh-flake extravaganza. Heading over to Upper Green Cabin on the way to the Cirque Dikes used to be a pain for snowboarders and skiers alike. Skating or trudging along with poles made it a trek sometimes not worth the gamble. Now, thanks to the well-thought-out placement of the new lift, there is a slight downhill pitch, removing any trace of a slog. Having watched the ski patrol hop on the lift a few chairs behind us, we as a crew decided to wait a moment or two at the Cirque Dikes gate in hopes of first tracks. Our patience paid off as the patrollers came by moments later, thanking us for not ducking the rope and welcoming us into paradise.
Four inches of fresh snow might not sound like much, but for myself having come from Kentucky, that's a supreme powder day, and for my team, which collectively averages about 31/2 feet tall, this past Sunday was pretty amazing. While we could have found a good time anywhere, we chose to try out the new High Alpine lift and were incredibly happy we did. Hopefully, you got in some good turns, as well. Thank you, Aspen Skiing Co., for the new lift — bravo on a job well done.
Josh Ganz is a snowboarding coach for the Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.