Marolt: The case of cruel and unusual punishment and the pin prick

Roger Marolt
Roger That

My fellow prisoners in gondola car 114 started chirping right after the doors slammed shut. They claimed that Aspen Ski Co. has discontinued its 100-day pin program. That’s serving the sentence where, if you get your ski pass scanned 100 times during the ski season, they give you a little pin as a reward. My cellmates, themselves, had been notching hashmarks on the wall toward this end. They claimed victimization. I tried to point out that they were now free.

I do not know if this rumor is legit. You know how prison talk is.

If true, it means there will be no more pin pricks in our lift lines, on the gondola, or in any of our local bars apres ski. Not that they were ever serious threats to anyone. If you encountered one, I suppose you could call the ski patrol — we’ve all seen them when they are inflamed and nasty looking — but there really isn’t much much point in that. Ignore them and most pin pricks disappear quickly.

Pin pricks notwithstanding, make no mistake about it; if you manage to pack 100 authentic ski days into a winter, that is serious time served. I am not talking about jumping in the bucket for one cruiser down Spar Gulch and calling that a day, either. I mean skiing! I mean cruising with purpose. Get into some bumps. Break some rocks. If you don’t sweat and max your heart rate out, it is not a day of skiing.

If the primary reason you went to the trouble of gearing up and heading up the mountain was to fulfill the obligation of counting the day, where is the thrill? That is not a day of skiing. It is the antithesis of a day of skiing because it misses the point of breaking out and getting away entirely. It shouldn’t be a relief to get the day punched and over with; it should be pure pleasure or at least an invigorating workout. This is not mandated community service.

At any rate, I doubt Skico has ever been sued because of a pin prick, so what could be the reason for the pin’s rumored demise? It couldn’t be cost. If those things cost a nickel apiece, I would be surprised. They are not nearly as nice as the Nastar pins, which they hand out like candy at the bottom of their courses; the bronze ones, that is. The platinum are tough. You can’t steal those. Getting your hands on one makes the 100-day pin look like child’s play.

Speaking of stealing, if the 100-day pin is indeed gone, my guess is that it is because they got devalued by cheaters. The lifties know. I bet they keep themselves amused by folks walking by the ticket scanners in street clothes and scanning their passes while on their way to the store or lunch. I have never witnessed this, but I have thought about the possibility. Admit it; you have, too. I’m not saying you would do it any more than I would, but any skier even halfway paying attention has recognized the temptation. If you haven’t, then you probably regularly pay for parking on national holidays or forget to use the HOV lanes when you have a car full of screaming kids, too; both things I have done myself. But, I’m not asking for a confession.

Good riddance to the 100-day pin! Hasta la vista, baby! I liked the idea, but not the execution of it. The pin doesn’t say anything about the wearer except that they managed to get to the slopes most days during the winter. The 100-day pin was only about quantity and never about quality. It would have been more meaningful if they scanned your mug every time you went through the lift line and then determined how many of those times you were genuinely smiling.

That’s leaving everything to a jury, though. If they ever decide to replace the 100-day pin, they ought to award it by a quantitative measure that guarantees a qualitative achievement. They have the technology.

Rewrite the law. The new pin should be awarded to those who nab a million vertical feet in a season. That is a lot of skiing and difficult to fake. Covering that amount of terrain would almost certainly guarantee improvement in skills and a deep enhancement of experience along with strengthening of body and character. A participant would either finish the year rehabilitated or be completely broken down; either way, a pin on your lapel or one holding your tibia together. Instead of a pin, maybe they should award an orange jumpsuit.

Roger Marolt doesn’t know for sure if the 100-day pin has been locked up and the key thrown away. Email at


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