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Roger Marolt: A few odds to no ends

Mid-season observations on straightliners, moguls and the milquetoasting of Snowmass

Roger Marolt
Cluster Phobic
Roger Marolt for the Snowmass Sun

I have a few mid-season observations.

We got on the Ajax Express to kick off Saturday of Presidents’ Day weekend. A young couple lost somewhere in their thirties joined us at a fork in the lift line and we rode up together. They were dressed to the nines, she speaking in Valley Girl revival pitch, he mostly silent like Tennille’s Captain. They were touring a few ski areas. Park City was what they liked best, so far. They stayed for six weeks.

She looked over at the NASTAR course and suggested Honey might like to try it out. He grunted disapproval, mumbling it cost twenty bucks (a mere fraction of the likely cost of her fur fringed mittens, I thought). I encouraged that it was free. She said he is really a good racer. ‘Hmmm,” I indulged, trying not to encourage her. Yet she went on: he had gone 84 miles per hour, according to the app on his watch.



“What?!” I exclaimed. “Where?”

It was on a groomer at Park City. What I wanted to say was something like, “Are you out of your damned mind? I seriously doubt you hit 84, but whatever it was was too damn fast for a run open to the public without protective netting and padding lining it.”




It seems to be a thing these days that some ski hobbyists equate speed with skill, straight-lining with proficiency, a sport watch recorded speed above the posted limit on an Interstate highway the mark of ultimate achievement.

Making elevens down a regular ski run is actually nothing but sheer stupidity. The mark of a good skier is execution of a precise turn where they don’t necessarily want to make it. The proof of expertise is the ability to link dozens of turns like this together. The best of the best can do this over any terrain and in all conditions, and they make it seem effortless. Take your dumb sport watch and smart phone app over to the free NASTAR course and see if you can hit even 30 mph. At least then you won’t be ignorant.

Instead of telling these fools this, I remarked dully, “wow.” Hopefully, my lack of enthusiasm for their BS made my point, but I doubt it.

By the way, who stole Gowdy’s cornice? Last time I checked, which was last weekend, it was gone, replaced by an assortment of really weird moguls, haphazard cross cuts, and a bunch of rocks leading into one of Snowmass’ classic (or at least it used to be) expert ski runs.

I don’t know if it is just the unusual snow and wind patterns that we have experienced this winter that have led to the disappearance of the wall of snow normally drifted in place, suspended between two cliffs guarding either edge of this noteworthy run, or if it was due to intentional work of the ski patrol to push forward the milquetoasting of Snowmass. Either way, Gowdy’s has lost its pizzazz.

I would have mentioned this earlier, but it wasn’t until lately that I made my annual pilgrimage to Snowmass to ski Gowdy’s. Yes, I live in Snowmass Village and, yes, I am an Aspen Mountain regular. No speculation necessary — there just isn’t any chemistry between us, except for Gowdy’s, and how many times a year can you go there just for that? It seems Gowdy’s is closed more often than not, so I limit my trips and hope to get lucky when I elect to make a one-day stand there.

A cornice is a terrible thing to waste. For those paying attention, there aren’t any others than Gowdy’s in this part of the ski world that I can think of. Even Highland Bowl lacks any. The best we can do is travel to Mammoth Mountain in California that grows them like bunions on a ski instructor’s ankle bone or wait until Independence Pass opens in late spring and hike up Mountain Boy to make a few leaps of the monster that forms up there.

Finally, how about the moguls this year? Never before in over five decades of devotion to this sport have I spent more time wondering if you can actually love and hate them at the same time. If it’s only my imagination that they are humongous this year, age has brought high definition to my daydreams. We have renamed “Easy Chair” on Ajax “Electric Chair.” Get your tips hung up in those babies at just 24 mph and you might be looking at a lethal ejection.


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