Paul E. Anna: High Points |

Paul E. Anna: High Points

Paul E. Anna
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado


We’ve all had those moments. Those sweetly euphoric times when we discovered that we could actually achieve something that we never thought possible.

The first time we jumped off the edge of a pool with our water wings on and discovered we could float. The first time we had to give a speech and trumped all fear only to get a polite handclap from the audience that, to us, in that moment, sounded like a standing ovation. The time we finished our first 10K and fantasized with perhaps a touch of bravado that maybe we could actually run a marathon.

Jennifer Walker, a grad student from Washington, D.C., had just such a moment this past Sunday when she realized that she could put on skis, ride a lift and actually make turns on snow. The feeling was euphoria for her and glee for her already accomplished skier boyfriend. It was a Snowmass Sunday that both will remember – always.

A little background: Ryan Gage is my nephew. He spent some early years as a prisoner of Vail having been raised in Avon. Though he escaped the Vail Valley with memories of freeways and crowded slopes, the good thing is he learned how to ski and it has stayed with him all these years. Today, he lives in Washington, D.C., and due to career choices, has not had the opportunity to ski in this decade.

Jennifer, his girlfriend, had never-ever skied before. In fact, she has had shaky to middlin’ knees her entire life and had been told by at least one hack…er …orthopod, that she would be crazy to even try to ski. But the two envision a future together and, as we all know, it will be brighter if the lovebirds can share some time on the slopes.

So Ryan and Jen grabbed some cheap flights to visit their Aspen-based aunt and uncle (that would be my wife and me) over the Martin Luther King weekend to see if they could capture some magic. While Ryan took to the slopes like a duck to water (in other words, he flailed his wings like a Vail skier but got to his ultimate destination), his girlfriend enrolled in a class for never-evers called “Beginners Magic.”

And that’s where the “Eureka moment” began. She started her adventure at the base of Snowmass where for $200 she purchased a package that included lift ticket, equipment and a lesson. Up the gondola she went towards the Meadows, where she would spend the next two days.

Day One was good. She learned that it didn’t hurt her knees to stand on skis, that she was not as uncomfortable as she feared she might be. Oh, and that it is really, really beautiful in the mountains.

But Day Two? That’s when things really kicked in. Her instructor took an interest and made it his mission to encourage her, give her tips and dispense homilies that apply to both the process of skiing as well as the act of living. By 3 p.m. she had it down, and it was like there was a new awakening. All thanks to having the courage to pursue something that was a little beyond her expectations and to a caring teaching professional from the Aspen Ski School.

As the shadows grew long on Sunday afternoon, Ryan and Jennifer floated, together, down the gradual slopes of the Meadows, time and again content in the knowledge that this was just the beginning.


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