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Roger Marolt: Roger This

Roger Marolt
The Aspen Times
Aspen CO Colorado

I tip my helmet to the 500 or so people who skied more than 100 days this season. That’s a lot of boot buckling, ski lugging, and long john tugging. I hope you found the time to wash your ski socks a few times between days on the hill.

I skied a lot this year, not enough to be awarded the coveted blue “100 Day” pin given out by Skico to customers with tenacity enough to end up paying less than $11.50 per day for skiing (note to local restaurants: Don’t invite these people to the off-season all-you-can-eat buffet), but enough to where my body reminds me of the effort.

And an effort it turned out to be. I didn’t set out with a goal of the number of days I wanted to achieve on the slopes this season. The snow was so good from the get-go that I went out more often than usual, especially in the early part of the season when the snow and my legs were both fresh and light. Then somewhere around the beginning of January I was blindsided and caught the dastardly bug.

I rushed through the electronic ticket scanner for a late afternoon run and the son-of-an-ice-cored-slush-bump of a liftie monitoring his monitor as I did so remarked, “Not bad, thirty days so far.” It was the first time in my life after the Thanksgiving weekend of any season that I actually knew how many days I had logged.

I have always adhered to the notion that counting your ski days is silly, if not downright dangerous, mostly because it doesn’t matter and especially considering the often overlooked risk taken in doing it which bodes even worse for the person who premeditatedly murders time counting the number of vertical feet skied. To me this seems one compulsive disordered step after another towards dropping into the unmarked, uncovered manhole of counting the number of snowflakes skied over during the winter, which has to be one manifestation of frost-induced insanity. Some old-timers have said that ski-day counters turn into soap-scrap hoarders after they hang up their boards. There exists no evidence I know of that disproves this.

At any rate, the infection squirmed in the back of my mind, festering and constantly working its way to the front. There was no physical pain involved with its persistent mutational growth from 30 to 31 to 32, and so on. It became more like the irritation of a low-grade virus that had to run its course despite efforts to wipe it out with remedies as ineffective as wild cherry throat lozenges and Phenylephrine hydrochloride nose drops. There wasn’t one day for the rest of the season that I didn’t know what day I “was on.”

I found myself on days when my joints were inflamed and my legs feeling like they were cast inartistically from molten scraps of tire balancing weights when I should have been on heavy doses of ibuprofen instead of skis, heading up the hill for just one run to ease my unease with a calendar day when the moguldometer wouldn’t otherwise roll. I was a paradox on P-tex. Whatever quantified satisfaction I was getting out of counting ski days, much I realized like a convict marking off days on his cell wall until eventual release, was countered by the disintegration of intangible satisfaction I was getting out of inhaling fresh air and absorbing vitamin D.

What gave me serious pause was the sacrificing of my body requisite for continuing to get up for the count. While I did succumb to the addiction of tallying my days, I did not yield to the oldest trick in the book for keeping the count high: Skiing like a wuss. I mean, yes, you can get 130 days skiing without much medial collateral damage if you are willing to water down the sport to primarily using Spar Gulch as the link between the unloading and loading stations of the gondola, but then you are also in danger of acquiring the habit of drinking your daily lunch on the rocks at the Sundeck bar to relieve the boredom.

Using Tylenol to short-circuit the electronic impulses of pain sent from my getting-older-but-not-old-yet appendages to my brain, my body continued to seek out the bumps and crud it craves. On the many days I went up only for a single run, more to turn the day-counter than the skis, this meant eschewing a warmup cruiser down Ruthie’s and getting straight to a bone-jarring power lunge down the tortuous moguls of Red’s.

Why? Because at times playing the numbers game made skiing a thoughtless obligation where not even personal sacrifice for it was considered. I liken it in hindsight to counting money. From the day a grandfather drops two bits into the tiny palm of his grandson, it, too, is fun, and it seems always from then on that the more you have of it the more fun it will be. But, no matter how much satisfaction we derive from accumulating as much of it as we can, at some point it is transformed from a pleasurable ritual into work. It is at that point that shelling out hundies to play golf for recreation becomes attractive. How much more pleasurable might it be to live out one’s days on a beach not knowing if you are rich or poor?

… Next year I’m not counting my ski days.

Roger Marolt has ridden his bike exactly zero times this spring. He hopes the weather is better where you’re counting. Count on him being at roger@maroltllp.com.


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