Grab a hold before it’s too late |

Grab a hold before it’s too late

Tony Vagneur

A lady friend of mine from days gone by – who grew up in Aspen and now lives in another part of the country – and I keep in some sort of regular correspondence during the course of the year. In winter, the conversation at some point always turns to skiing, with her question being something along the lines of, “Doesn’t skiing every day begin to turn into a job or an obligation?” Or, “Don’t you think you’re pushing your physical impairments a little by skiing so much?”If you’re an inveterate skier, as I am, then you have no doubt heard similar comments from people you know and love. If you were going out the door to work every day, it would make so much more sense. But to be going up Aspen Mountain, or another area, every day to enjoy the passion of skiing is hard for many people to understand. The other day on the lift, a lady told me her daughter snowboards now because she became bored with skiing. I told her that if skiing bored her daughter, then she wasn’t really skiing, not by any stretch of the imagination, and was in for a rather flat-line existence down the road. The look I got was memorable. It’s hard to explain to people the feeling, as my buddy Bob says, of “puttin’ the zipper” on an almost perfect line through some big bumps and never looking back. Or how it feels to launch “big air” into Super 8 gully from the road, on any day, preferably a powder day for me.Maybe you have one of those days, in mid-January, when the avalanche danger subsides and you finally get to your favorite backcountry mine dump and find it untracked? Exhilaration is a good word to identify how you may react when you first see the virgin snow, but there’s really not a word good enough to describe how you feel when you serpentine your way down through the bottomless stuff in your own private stash. If you’re the type that might get bored by skiing, you probably check the weather before you go up. Nobody else checks because they’re ready for whatever Mother Nature may throw at them. Oh, a look out the window is advantageous, but nothing technical is demanded. To some, skiing is about fashion and being seen, but that’s more about just having lunch than skiing, so I’m not sure how that stuff really works. Inadvertently inhaling a mouthful of powder as a blinding curtain of Aspen fluff rolls over your face may not appeal to a lot of people, but ask the skiers you see at the bottom of a steep run on a powder day how they liked it (as though you’d actually stop to do so), and you won’t really get an answer. Just a huge smile, or giggles, and a gush of enthusiasm, somewhat like a “Yesss!” at the end of an orgasm.You know those moments. You’ve just totally ripped Summit, or hammered Walsh’s, or maybe danced down Corkscrew Gully, and you look over at your partner, too depleted of oxygen to really say how great it was, but the smiles tell it all, anyway. An early morning stroll down Copper or Spar, “rippin’ the ‘roy”, will leave your lungs happy and a smile just as big. Whether you ski the steeps and deeps, or prefer to cruise groomers all day, it doesn’t matter ’cause it’s all about lovin’ the mountain. Life offers a lot of things, but the things we go after and really enjoy are the one’s that stir our passions. We can peruse actuarial tables and maps of our genetic code and figure out about how long we’re theoretically going to live. On the other hand, we can’t look into a crystal ball and see the errant car that might take us out early, or the unexpected, insidious disease that could deal us the lethal blow. We should look deep inside ourselves and grab hold of our passions, nurturing them to their fullest for as many days as we have. Tony Vagneur is passionate about women and horses, too. Reach him at

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