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Roger Marolt: Roger This

The Aspen Times
Aspen CO Colorado

There was a short story in the paper the other day about “real skiers” talking about how spectacular the skiing was Saturday on Aspen Mountain. One “real skier” said that it was the best day he had ever skied.

It was not the best day I have ever skied. For crying out loud, the weatherman tells us this is the third-driest winter in the past 50 years, and it hasn’t snowed in three weeks. If those are the best conditions you’ve ever had, you haven’t really skied.

Obviously, the “real skier” in question was not really talking about how great the skiing is. He was playing an old Aspen game. It works like this: In response to some people, possibly tourists, in a bar somewhere in town discussing the subpar skiing conditions, a “real skier” interjected that he thought it was actually pretty good in order to make it clear he’d been around long enough to know where the good stuff was hidden and that he skied well enough to take advantage of it.

Yet another “real skier” who heard him went somewhere else and in a similar conversation proclaimed that the skiing was really good. After that, still another “real skier” declared in another bar that the skiing is great. The next one said it was excellent. Finally, the realest skier of all had to announce that these are the best ski conditions ever!

Can we please just stop trying to out-“local” the next person? Four decades of this nonsense is long enough. Just stop. Now. It’s ridiculous.

On Saturday in the Aspen Daily News, columnist Lo Semple insinuated that anyone who uses the name “Highland Bowl” around here is a “new local,” like that’s the worst tag you can hang on a person. He claims true locals call it “Highlands Bowl” with an “s.” I have to tell you that both my father and great-uncle, who lived in this town for a combined 157 years, called it “Highland Bowl.” Do you know what either of them would have said if you called it “Highlands Bowl”? Nothing. They didn’t care.

I am not a “phony skier,” nor am I less of a “local” than anyone else simply because I don’t agree that Saturday on Aspen Mountain was the best day of skiing ever or say “Highlands Bowl” when I set out hiking with a pair of skis over my shoulder.

The same goes for basing my status in town on the number of days I happen to ski every year. A few years, I’ve put in 100 or more days on the slopes. In 1996, I didn’t make a single turn. Most years are somewhere between. Does this mean some years I’m a local and others I’m not?

Think about the things you like least about Aspen, and I’ll bet that near the top of the list is the smug rich guy who comes to town and throws his wealth in our faces at every opportunity. He acts snotty. He demands special treatment. He’s the one who boxes singles out of his gondola car to keep his ride up the mountain private. Yuck!

So what’s the difference between this rich jerk and the “local” who is smug on the slopes, demands the locals discount at places that don’t offer one, ridicules folks for saying “Highland Bowl” and boxes singles out of his gondola car to keep his ride up the mountain private. I would say it’s the same personality flaunting a different currency. Yuck!

We are an enlightened, live-and-let-live town, right? So why set up a hierarchy to climb to the coronation of “localdom,” which means absolutely nothing? That’s promoting conformity in the name of stupidity.

Let’s make a deal. From now on, none of us will volunteer how long we have lived in the valley, especially in order to win an argument. We will not use how many days we skied last season as an introduction. We won’t work the snow conditions during the winter of 1984 into any conversation. The last thing we need is another “real skier” driving around town wearing their goggles.

We know of Aspen’s halcyon days when the wealthy visitor came to town and blended in perfectly at the bar with the regular crowd. So what happened to the other component of that blend? Where are the regular, laid-back people for whom it was fortune enough to simply live in the Aspen moment, not trying to distinguish themselves as having a superior experience to everyone else? If my memory serves me, that was the local who made everyone want to be one.

Roger Marolt thinks the skiing stinks right now, has fewer than 20 days on the slopes and calls it “Highland Bowl.” He can be reached locally at roger@maroltllp.com.


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