Alison Berkley: The comforting weight of youth
December 31, 2003
It just occurred to me that I am a snowboard whore.
I am the lady in red (literally) who accepts cash at the end of the day from the ultrawealthy ski vacationers at Snowmass who think I’m a miracle worker because their brain-dead kid actually got excited about something besides video games for the first time since the day she turned 13.
They call us “snowboard pros” which makes it sound a lot more legit than it really is. Whatever. My parents are just happy I’m a professional at something, especially after all that money they blew on boarding school and the six years it took me to get through college.
No, I’m not bumming around some upper-crust resort. I’m not afraid of the so-called “real world” or facing the responsibility of becoming an “adult.” I’m a snowboard pro, bitch. That’s Alison Berkley, S.P.
I’m so rad, I’ve got my own private locker at the mountain so I don’t gots to carry my board on the bus or stash my sneakers under some ice-cold bench. I’m that girl sitting next to you on the Rodeo Lot bus looking all casual in my street clothes, donning that shiny black Polo RLX jacket with Aspen/Snowmass logos all over it that just screams “fashionable athlete.”
I’m head-to-toe in enough designer Gore-Tex to climb Mount Everest even though it’s 45 degrees out on Fanny Hill. I only look four months pregnant in those high-waisted baggy gray pants and oversized red jacket, pockets filled with little pencils and class lists and release forms and sunscreen.
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I’m the mysterious snowboard-instructor chick behind those iridium pink Oakley goggles and matching pink hat. Duh, I know red and pink clash, but part of being hella-cool is being humble. I don’t have to be sexy every minute of every day.
Forget about powder days on The Wall or Hanging Valley Glades, I get to spend almost all my time on Assay Hill, which, let me tell you, is the best tanning spot on the mountain. Even when Sam’s Knob and Big Burn is getting dumped on all the livelong day, chances are the sun is shining on Ass-A, which is essentially below the bottom of the mountain (which might explain the retarded name).
The lift on Buttknocker Hill moves ever-so-slowly so you have an audience whilst teaching your crew of ADD poster children, who put on quite the show. They usually make it about five feet before they catch an edge and blow up, like little grenades in a mine field. Boom! Oooo! Boom! Ooo!
Carnage abounds while you scream “Lean on your toes! Lean on your toes!” at the top of your lungs even though they can’t hear a god damned thing through the thick lining of their oversized helmets.
I especially love it when my class of gargantuan fifth-graders tower over me by at least a foot. They’re always like, “Ali, how come I’m taller than you even though I’m 10 and you’re 40?”
“I’m 33 you little shit bag,” I reply.
Anyhoo, since I’m so good and can ride switch with one foot out of my binding and one arm tied behind my back, I help the fat retarded kid who can’t stand up on his own by “dancing” with him, holding his hands and riding board to board, guiding him down the rabbit mound so he can get the hang of what it feels like to ride on his snowboard instead of his face.
He’s heavy, so naturally we start to pick up some serious speed. I try the ol’, “Lean on your heels! Lean on your heels!” since that never works. Of course whale boy doesn’t get it, so we head straight down Butthole Mountain at Mach 6 and counting. When we finally crash, I generously land beneath him so the edges of his board slice across both my thighs and he has my nice little body to cushion his fall. Brilliant!
All the instructors on the lift laugh with me, not at me. I’m sure that snowball was meant for someone who actually knows what the hell they are doing.
Thank god I get a discount on that pizza I get to eat almost every single day so I can bulk up on empty calories and better prepare myself for human bumper pool. The kids always share their candy bars and Skittles, so I get plenty of free food and never complain that it’s not organic. My friends in Cali would die if they knew I could be so flexible with my diet. I can be fat because I am all that. I am a snowboard pro, yo.
I spend so much time on Fudgepacker Mound that you can’t blame me for not knowing the name of every bloody trail on Snowmass. When those rich people pay $500 a day for a private lesson, I can easily hide the fact that I have no idea where I’m going by pulling the old, “Let’s take a look at the map and decide where you want to go next.”
Let the client feel involved in the lesson ” very empowering.
The real reward comes at the end of the day when the kid from hell has a really hot dad who loves me because his little monster actually likes snowboard school. He thinks that has something to do with how way rad I am. He has no idea it’s the sport that his kid loves, or even being outside all day surrounded by mountains so beautiful that even a comatose eighth-grader can appreciate them.
Hot Rich Dad gives me that little nudge-nudge wink-wink and slips me those precious 20s and 50s and even crisp one-hundies (they can slide those right into my G-string undies). So what if I’m selling not-so-cheap thrills? I’m cool enough for snowboard school.
[The Princess may be suffering from brain freeze after working every day for a week in subzero weather. E-mail your warmest thoughts to firstname.lastname@example.org]
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