Local hardcores give a few thoughts on keeping it fresh on the mountains
We are more than 100 days into a ski season that likely will last longer than advertised. Recent powder days aside, it is that time of the year when motivation can become a bear.
Sometimes, you get up and think: “Well, it’s only 5 inches of fresh snow. Is that really worth it?” #AspenProblems, right?
While the physical toll of skiing and snowboarding can put some folks on the sideline for a day or two, a playground like ours is hard to just look at from the window.
For many seasoned skiers and riders, getting on the hill is a compulsive endeavor each day — an addiction of sorts.
“Follow your nose and listen to your instincts and that will guide you to the right place,” said Doran Laybourn, a 38-year-old professional snowboarder and Basalt High graduate. “Don’t force it.”
And maybe that’s the key. Go when you feel it, sit back when you don’t.
While Laybourn gets in more than 100 days on the mountain (resort or backcountry) each season, he says exploring a new place or just trying a new line on a familiar run can be equally exciting. He grew up a skier in the Aspen club, and has covered pretty much every inch of the four local mountains.
That’s another one of the tricks for staying stoked over a long winter.
In an effort to find ways to “keep it interesting,” we asked Laybourn and a number of dedicated local skiers and riders how they keep it fresh. What games do you play?
One suggestion was to try to ski every run once in the season at all four resorts. For the record, there are 338 runs spread across Skico’s 5,537 acres. Yeah, doesn’t sound so easy when you look at it like that.
A less daunting challenge is try to ride each of a mountain’s lifts in a day. That’s a lot more attainable, but it will take some doing at Snowmass, where 20 of Aspen Skiing Co.’s 38 lifts are spinning.
We live in an area with passionate skiers. But even the most committed have their moments of doubt.
Mikey Wechsler is a longtime local who is well-known for his pursuit of not only the coveted “100-day” pin that Skico awards to those who hit the century mark in a season but also skiing well past that mark: Every. Single. Day.
Wechsler, 58, has a superhuman level of passion. His “claim to fame,” as he puts it, is that 2018-19 is his ninth consecutive season of skiing every day. He said the last time he missed a day that Aspen Mountain was open was in 2010 when he missed four.
He figures he’s had at least 15 seasons tallying 100 days. Wechsler, who works at a local bar and restaurant, has had his moments of angst over the years.
“When you ski every day, it’s a lot of ups and downs,” he said. “Some days, like the powder days, you wish it could be like this every day. And sometimes it feels like I have someone else’s boots on.”
Speaking of boots, one trick passed along from a longtime Skico higher-up was shooting for a crossover day — skiing, snowboarding and telemark in one shift.
And if you are not capable in one (or even two) of those disciplines, try to become more disciplined in your technique.
When you’re busting through consecutive powder days like the ones we’ve had in the past week, it’s in the front of mind to stay balanced on your skis or back on your board. But when you are pushing through a dry week and you’re on day six of groomers, complacency can set in.
Bobbi Teliska moved to Aspen nine years ago. Now 71, she’s gotten in nearly 90 days this season, and is on track for her eighth 100-day season.
And like so many others, it’s not about the pin. It’s about being on the mountain.
Teliska said she works nearly every day to master the Clendenen Ski Method to become a better moguls skier and be solid on her technical skiing on the black runs. She takes the first run each day to focus on her feet to get a sense of balance and correct form before going to hit the big stuff.
“To me it’s an art and something that can be experienced differently each day,” she said. “Each day offers a new perspective.”
Sometimes perspective can be gained out on the hill with just your thoughts and the lift. For many of the people who get out four or five times a week, more often than not they are solo days.
Mixing a little quiet time and perhaps a bit of poetry is a way to be in tune on some days. Other days, it could be starting alone, meeting up with friends and then back to solo.
Those are the days when you’re able to do what you want, when you want. Do 10 laps off the same chair? Sure. Sing to your music at the top of your lungs? No problem. Pickup a paperback of nature poetry from Thoreau or Wordsworth and do some light reading on the lift? Have at it.
“Skiing is such a great way to get your day going, and any day on the mountain is a good day,” Wechsler said. “I’m always in a much better mood. Skiing is like mental floss. It puts you in a good state of mind.”
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It was inevitable, right? Wine in space.