The true Aspen snobs nonskiers
Finally, I think I qualify as a true local, as defined by – what else? – skiing.In Aspen, it’s all about how many times you hit the slopes, or not, as the case may be. New arrivals ski every day and keep a tally of their outings. Then, as the years go by, most find themselves skiing less and less, until they only bother on powder days, then, only on bluebird powder days, and finally, they just don’t bother.But here’s the weird thing – no matter how little we long-timers ski, we still buy a ski pass. Wouldn’t be caught dead without one. A ski pass is sort of like car insurance – it costs a ton of money that you’d rather not spend, but you’ve got to have it, just in case.Just in case the upcoming season is the mother of all winters, I guess.Oh sure, we go from a full pass down to the two-day-a-week option, and then to the one-day-a-week pass until finally, the seven-day Classic Pass seems sufficient. Drop down to the four-day Classic Pass and you might as well move to Denver.I may be the poster child for waning ski enthusiasm, but I’m not alone. The Aspen Skiing Co. recently conceded its skier visit numbers through February were down slightly, compared to last season, and tourists stuck in airports elsewhere aren’t solely to blame. Season pass use, i.e. locals on the slopes, has also dropped this season.”Strange as it may seem, there are fair-weather skiers right here in the valley,” Skico spokesman Jeff Hanle said.I’m not one of them.Actually, I’m the opposite of a fair-weather skier. I’m a foul-weather skier.Most of the times I managed to get out there this winter, it was snowing. And it was a weekend. Count how many times those stars aligned and you’ll know why I’m in danger of paying a higher daily rate to ski with a one-day pass than I would have by walking up to the ticket window and shelling out $82 for a lift ticket.But I buy the pass, mostly because no local would be caught dead wearing a single-day lift ticket. That’s like buying apples at the supermarket when you live in the orchard.At first, I thought my dwindling skier days was a factor of my move down the valley, but even as an Aspen resident, I know I skied successively fewer days over the course of 10 seasons there. Plus, I know a Carbondale resident/Aspen employee who managed 100 days on the slopes a season ago, securing his status as a true-local wannabe. He’ll have to leave the skis standing in the corner a lot more often than that to gain standing among the true Aspen elitists – the pass holders who snub skiing. Consider it the ultimate in Aspen snobbery – I could go skiing, I simply choose not to.It’s not like I didn’t actively participate in winter sports, though my resolve to skin up stuff and ski down melted faster than the Nordic trails come March. I managed to get in some cross-country skiing and backcountry touring, but less than I’d have liked (which is more than I can say about downhill skiing).If we get another big dump before the season’s over, I’m more likely to consider it a prime chance to stay home and paint the kitchen than to make tracks to a mountain.Still, on what was likely my last powder day of this season, I found myself mulling my ski pass choice for next winter. I really should opt for a two-day pass instead of a one-day and actually use it, I told myself. Skiing powder a handful of times each season is, as it turns out, physically difficult. My legs were never in shape for it and I always headed home after a couple of hours at most.I either need to throw myself back into the sport with considerably more gusto or buy a Classic Pass and take a few leisurely turns in the corduroy on days when I can work on my tan, if not my form.More likely, I’ll spend $900 on a two-day pass and ski seven days in the corduroy when I can work on my tan, like a true local.Janet Urquhart is looking a little pasty from the neck down. Her e-mail address is email@example.com
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