Marolt: Cheech & Chong or Justin Bieber; I get them confused |

Marolt: Cheech & Chong or Justin Bieber; I get them confused

Roger Marolt
Cluster Phobic
Roger Marolt

There is an unwritten rule around here that locals don’t talk about celebrities publicly. I have a personal addendum in the hopper that says any famous person farting, picking their nose or smoking in public becomes fair game for comment.

Enter Justin Bieber into our small, never-finished, faux Bavarian alpine ski/snowboard village tucked quietly into the mountains of Colorado, completely indistinguishable from other glitzy resorts except for our lack of glitz. Yes, the tween idol was spotted, followed and trapped with nowhere to go but down on Sam’s Knob on Jan. 19. It was not the paparazzi, skilled and practiced in the game of tracking the never-ending list of just-another-pretty-faces, that nabbed the photo op with the latest winner of American Ideal. It was a smallish pack of 13-year-old local girls.

Apparently Bieber posted an Instagram (I’m not sure what that is) of himself skating during his winter vacation. It turns out he was skating at an outdoor rink that, I think we can all agree, only about 16 people on the planet know about. The girls recognized it as our own Snowmass Village outdoor skating rink nestled between Town Parking Lot and Horse Poop Pond, where many of the abnormally gigantic trout have three eyes.

Anyway, the girls figured out he was here. Armed with this knowledge, they decided to go skiing. In all fairness, they probably would have gone skiing anyway because it was Sunday in January and that’s what they do all the time and it’s the go-to take-it-for-granted thing we are all wired for, but this time they hit the slopes with watchful eyes.

Lo and behold, they spotted Bieber about to board the six-pack at the base of Fanny Hill. Here’s where things get interesting. The girls get on the lift one chair before his group. Although apparently nobody else in line noticed him, he is aware that these girls are aware of him. I speculate it was the stares and giggles. The girls keep a close eye, planning their next move to meet Justin Bieber face-to-face, a dream realized and another check on the bucket list.

Now, local private ski instructors — er, outdoor performance coaches — tend to know the nooks and crannies of the mountains they work on and, most of the time, can lead their charges to places where they feel relaxed and comfortable. And so, as the two chairs approached the midway station of the six-pack, the coach raised the footrest, indicating that the celebrity group was going to disembark there. The girls saw the sign and got off the lift ahead of them.

As soon as the girls were off, the coach smiled and lowered the footrest again, and Bieber & Co. proceeded to head serenely the rest of the way up the mountain. I’m sure they thought themselves pretty clever.

They underestimated their opponents. Almost instinctively, the native girls, knowing the slopes like the backs of their iPhones, raced to the Sam’s Knob lift for a fast ride up and on a collision course with destiny.

Can you imagine the look of surprise on Bieber’s face when the pack of girls showed up at Sam’s Knob only a few minutes after he arrived there? Some exasperated member of his party asked the girls to please respect his privacy. It was a plea, not a demand. This wasn’t a Las Vegas stage; they couldn’t outmaneuver the girls on the ski slopes. The negotiations began. The girls demanded a picture with him in exchange for peace, and they won it.

There was a chance Bieber might have given the girls the slip, but this is Colorado, and apparently he couldn’t control the urge to inhale a deep breath of imperfectly legal smoky air. If only he had just moved his butt instead. The girls caught him between drags.

Apparently it looked like a joint and smelled like a joint, and this is Colorado, after all, so it would be easy to draw the conclusion that Bebier was enjoying a bona fide Rocky Mountain high. Whatever was smoldering on the ends of his lips, many will probably agree with the girls’ assessment that it was “gross.” The glamour was gone in a puff.

Perhaps living in this part of the world, with fame and fortune continually alternating in our lift lines, we learn to pay little attention to it because we are often let down by it. We are accustomed to seeing the mirrors. Smelling the smoke provided a good lesson.

Roger Marolt never saw a celebrity he couldn’t misidentify. Contact him at