Sean Beckwith: Pining for the 100-day pin
December 19, 2017
When I'm setting personal goals for myself, I often don't relay my aspirations to the public because when I eventually give up or lose focus I don't have to worry about condescending people asking me, "How's that gym membership working out?"
I don't indulge in substance-fueled, late-night B.S. sessions. I'm not sure how many friends have professed their dreams of owning a bar and grill, but it's definitely in the double-digits. And if you're wondering who that condescending person who's the first to ask, "So whatever happened to your Suds and Grubs business plan?" — it's me. I'm the guy laughing and breaking down your delusional fantasies.
My schoolyard-bully approach to your goals is precisely why I hesitate to state my objective for this ski season: getting that elusive 100-day pin.
I've come close in the past, but I never had a schedule that would accommodate snowboarding as much as possible. To be honest, I'm not sure my double-shift-filled weekends will allow me to even hit 100. I haven't done the exact math; however, I know I'll need some days in April and maybe a weekend or two after to reach 100.
That said, the season isn't off to a great start. I'm not sure why Mother Nature is trying to sabotage my quest — it might be that I referred to myself as a schoolyard bully who s—s on others' dreams — but my merit is already being tested.
In the past when the snow hasn't been plentiful, we've had at least enough to run groomers on Snowmass, Aspen Highlands and Buttermilk by this time of the year. The only days I've logged thus far have been on Aspen Mountain. That hour-and-a-half arts-and-craft session decorating my powder board with stickers in late November could have waited another month, at least. On Monday, I relished my first turns on Ruthie's.
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In past years, I would become apathetic and be rendered to checking the forecast and planning my schedule around potential powder days.
I don't have an option now. Motivated to preserve my promise and to save face, I am in tune with the best runs even as they grind and gouge my rock board into the ski shop's SVU. At this point, I could lead a powder tour, if that tour was a guide to the least sketchy groomed terrain. I — or more aptly my edges — hold on for dear life on my favorite runs to straight line. Visitors are clogging once wide-open trails and turning them into a test of patience. I'm used to jerrys and gapers making navigating town difficult this time of year, but not on the mountain.
This stupid 100-day pin feels more and more like a potential trip to the hospital. My snowy season approach to snowboarding is to get out as much as possible because who knows how much longer I'll have the luxury of a 7-minute bus ride to the base of the gondola. When, or more appropriately if, I'm able to reach the 100-day milestone, I'm supposed to be thrilled with a pin that I'm too nervous to wear in fear of losing it, along with the material confirmation that I did indeed spend most of my free time on the mountain? Nah, Aspen Skiing Co., you have to come a little harder with that prize.
How about a T-shirt or plastic trophy or celebratory sticker or flask? I only own one suit, and it would be pretty silly to sport a 100-day snowboarding pin on the lapel during the two occasions every five years that I'm actually required to wear a suit. It's like getting 25 cents from your cheap relative for 10 hours of raking leaves.
My main reason for continuing this charade is the hope that I'm building up enough weather karma that the skies eventually open up and reward my dedication to snowboarding. It's like the "If you build it, they will come" approach that only worked for Kevin Costner in a fictional movie. At the very least, when we do get snow, my ski legs will be in prime shape due to shredding sheets of man-made snow and ice.
I would like to thank one specific group of people, though, and that's the groomers and snowmakers. Nature is essentially handing them the "make a gourmet dish from a vending machine" challenge from "Top Chef," and they're turning Chex Mix and beef jerky into a three-star meal. Thanks for doing the best with what you have.
As for this season of snow stress, you can only do so much — well, at least those of us locals who can't audible out of our Christmas plans and take the private jet to Cancun or the Alps.
You know what I can do that those persnickety visitors cannot? Snowboard as much as damn possible and earn those apres beers and, hopefully, a 100-day pin. Just don't expect me to tell you if I (or the season) comes up short.
Sean Beckwith is a copy editor at The Aspen Times. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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