My 24 Minutes of Buttermilk | AspenTimes.com

My 24 Minutes of Buttermilk

Janet Urquhart

Nothing inspires me quite like the 24 Hours of Aspen, unless it’s any other endeavor that combines gritty determination, astounding athleticism and borderline insanity.

You know, like buckling your ski boots with your teeth, which would take about 24 hours, or playing basketball with your elbows until someone scores – roughly 24 days.

I’ve come up with my own version of Aspen’s grueling ski race – 24 Minutes of Buttermilk. I figure that’s about how long it will take me to get frustrated and go home.

Naturally, the event will feature an individual format instead of two-person teams. That way, I’ll have no teammate to witness the debacle.

As in the 24 Hours of Aspen, the racer with the lowest cumulative on-snow time wins. Actually, that’s a goal whenever I go skiing. The less time actually spent skiing, the better.

I decided to resume skiing this winter after a two-season hiatus. I went all out and bought the Big Kahuna – the Premier Pass – and then sat out the early season with a back injury. How was I to know winter would peak in November?

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So far, I’ve trained once for the 24 Minutes of Buttermilk. Since the West Buttermilk race course doesn’t open until tomorrow, I had to take my practice runs out at Snowmass.

In other words, my savvy purchase of a Premier Pass has thus far reduced the cost of skiing to $999 per day. But, hey, after Saturday’s big event, the cost of my skier visits is cut in half, to $499.50 per day. Just call me thrifty.

Despite an appalling lack of on-slope training time, I’m fairly confident in my ability to remain upright for the entire 24 minutes tomorrow. After all, I’ve been engaged in a pretty intensive preseason training regimen for over a week now. I did a deep knee-bend just yesterday while I was taking out the garbage, and I’ve spent substantial time on my sofa to prepare for riding the lift.

I decided not to spend any time on a stationary bike at the gym after my training session at Snowmass. Skiing, I’ve discovered, is not just like riding a bicycle.

After two seasons off skis, I kind of stood there on edge of the Snowmass mall, peering down the precipitous drop to the Fanny Hill chairlift and wondering how the heck I was going to get down there. No ingrained reflexes took control of my legs as I wobbled into motion and searched my ski tips for some sort of steering mechanism.

Needless to say, I didn’t find one, which is why I’d gathered sufficient speed to take out several small children by the time I got to the lift line. “Time to employ the old snowplow braking maneuver!” my inner voice screamed. I glanced wildly about. There was no snowplow in the vicinity to halt my descent.

“Oh, hell,” I muttered, “they’re just kids,” and I barreled into the shoot.

It was only later that I realized I’d violated several provisions in the fine print of my 2002/2003 Season Pass Agreement with the Aspen Skiing Co., namely its prohibitions on skiing recklessly, line crashing and profanity.

Look for more of the same tomorrow during a particularly harrowing 24-minute stretch at Buttermilk, unless I spend the day buckling my boots with my teeth instead, as a concession to the safety of others.

Janet tests the Season Pass Agreement provision that prohibits her from engaging in the instruction of skiing in any manner whatsoever.

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