Seeking Aspen’s best skier
December 6, 2006
Recently an anonymous, not to be mistaken for modest, skier lambasted me for lambasting Skiing magazine, and made good use of the opportunity to let me know that he is the best skier in all of Aspen. His voice message challenged me to meet him anytime, anywhere, so he could “bury” me. I think he meant with snow, but it sounded like baloney.I am sure that I’ve never been challenged to do anything by the one person who is the best at doing that thing. I guess I should be relieved that this person is only a skier, and not a molecular biologist.This is not to suggest that I am backing down. However, I see two immediate problems. The first is that, although this über-Ullr is convinced that he can beat me “anytime” and “anywhere,” he hasn’t specified anything. Luckily, I’ve been around the mogul enough times to devise a challenge, even for a thing as all encompassing as skiing. So if my secret admonisher is ready, so am I. Here’s the test, one point goes to the winner of each event:Next Saturday, we’ll ease into it on the Nastar course at 11 a.m. sharp. It will be the fastest two out of three runs. The caveat here is that, if you don’t earn the platinum medal on every run, you’re a pretender and the event is over, more quickly than … well, more quickly than you got down the course!Assuming you pass this qualifier, we’ll continue. On the first two weekends of The Aspen Times Town Race Series, we’ll compete in slalom and giant slalom races. Bring your skintight ski racing leotard.Next, we’ll travel to a Colorado Masters’ Series event for a super G race. Then we should be ready to take on the Town Downhill in January. If you’re still standing, we will enter the Giantisimo giant slalom; racing from the top of Aspen Mountain to the bottom – hopefully nonstop.That should get us to X Games week. We have to finagle a deal with the Skico to let us go head to head on the skiercross course. (You have to ask, as I may be out of favors to call in.) Again, we’ll go two out of three, unless one of us gets hip-checked into the woods and can’t continue.Tired yet? I hope not because the following weekend in February we head out to Slot on Snowmass to have a turn at speed skiing. Speed counts, consistency is for the Tooth Fairy, so the fastest run takes it.Here ends the completely objective events in our challenge. The following proceedings will be based almost solely on people judging our performances, or our outfits. Sorry, you don’t get to evaluate yourself. Nobody is as good as you think you are.We’ll start with a couple of head-to-head runs down Ridge of Bell in late February when the bumps are biggest. Then we’ll bomb S-1 to see who’s quickest down that. Yahoo!By this time we will be in perfect shape for some marathon skiing. Common Powder Puff, it’s not all about the lifts. It’s up and down Highland Bowl as many times as you can before the patrol pulls the ropes tight at the end of the day. The record is seven laps. I recommend good sleep beforehand.It doesn’t get easier from here. Have you been out to the slopestyle course at Buttermilk? There’s some big, scary stuff out there! Two trips through – that ought to do it. You have to take the big air on the final jump, and you’re not allowed to clean your pants out between runs!Since we’ll already be there, we might as well knock out the Superpipe that afternoon. Got Dramamine?The next leg of our frozen odyssey is on the mogul course on Thunder Bowl. Here we’ll go mano a mano through the bumps with three mandatory jumps thrown in. Remember, speed counts … a little bit. The schedule doesn’t ease up. The freestyle aerials competition is next. It probably won’t be pretty (tip drop to a daffy, anyone?), but we have to do it.Now we need a little cooperation with Mother Nature – and a ski partner. It’ll take a steep slope of untracked powder to make powder eights on. There’s nothing like looking up the hill afterwards and seeing two sets of eights right next to each other. Huh, 88 … same as your IQ.Then we’ll go directly to the groomers and carve all day long in front of a panel of Level-11-certified Professional Ski Instructors of America. Hope you have some patience because these folks love to dissect, digest, and regurgitate every inch of every turn. Remember, tips are appreciated.Eventually we’ll get to extreme skiing on some really gnarly stuff. All 50 vertical feet of the Buckle, that you boastfully mention in your call, is child’s play compared to some of the sustained stuff available. La Plata Peak offers numerous choices for rapid-fire, ear-popping, cryin’-for-momma ski descents. Then we’ll do some ski mountaineering, which is just extreme skiing combined with extreme altitude, extreme weather, and extreme hiking. It sounds easier than it is.Then we’ll take to the air – big air! The first stop will be Snowmass to huck some cliffs. This is where height is in inverse proportion to brain size. Then we’ll build a Galendesprung jump on Ego Hill. This is where distance is in inverse proportion to brain size. Finally, we’ll finish it off with a couple of goes at skijoring, where brains don’t seem to matter at all. And let’s not forget doing some mono, ballet, and synchronized skiing.Whew! That’s going to be a very challenging … for a first round. Maybe we should take a week off before strapping on the telemark gear to do it all over again.Even then we may not be able to determine a winner. By the time we’re finished, it’s likely they’ll have invented another way to ski! So, be prepared. Skiing is a very broad endeavor.Now, getting to the second problem: I don’t know who my anonymous challenger is. Oh well, that’s easy enough to find out. How difficult can it be to pick out the best skier in Aspen?Of all the people Roger Marolt knows, the best skier in Aspen isn’t one of them. Point her out at email@example.comThe Aspen Times, Aspen, Colo.
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