Colbert: My snowboarding anniversary |

Colbert: My snowboarding anniversary

Aspen Times sports editor Austin Colbert sits deflated in the snow last winter while learning to snowboard in Steamboat Springs.
Courtesy photo |

She saw me, I saw her, and there was nothing either of us could do about it. In hindsight, I know the slightest pressure on my front heel could have avoided calamity, but neither of us knew what we were doing. Thankfully, I managed to swoop the girl — she was probably in elementary school — into my arms before I completely trampled her with my snowboard.

This was last winter, on one of the beginner runs in Steamboat Springs. It was obvious she was just learning to ski — her father was only a few feet away when this happened — and I had only recently discovered the wonders of chair lifts and ski resorts myself.

The girl skied away with no harm done to her, while my ego was a bit bruised. But, I still consider it a necessary moment in my winterlong quest to master snowboarding. I was living in Steamboat Springs and working as a sports writer for the Pilot & Today, a fairly recent transplant from Kansas who had never before been on the snow in the mountains.

My first time snowboarding was a year ago this week. Unlike 2016, where Old Man Winter has apparently wandered into the desert and been bitten by a rattlesnake to never be seen again, November 2015 was one powder day after another. Before the lifts started cranking, I ventured with some friends to Rabbit Ears Pass outside of Steamboat to see what this snowboarding thing was all about.

Two moments distinctly stand out. One came when I suddenly face-planted onto the only hard, icy surface in the endless powder. The second was my regrettable decision to go off a small jump — I had no idea how to even turn or stop at this point — where I learned belly flopping into powder can be equally as painful. At least there were no small children to run over out in Steamboat’s backcountry.

It was an eye-opening winter for me, one that showed me the magic of snowboarding. It also was a lonely winter for me on the mountain. After all, gapers don’t make for good riding partners.

Still, I was committed. Alone or not, I spent day after day teaching myself to snowboard. A few times I was able to take lessons — which, sadly, were some of my favorite days, because they gave me people to ride with. But I slowly progressed, going from green runs to blues and blacks.

If Old Man Winter does decide to show up (he seems to be spending a lot of time in Tahoe and Jackson right now), I’ll be ready. My first winter in the mountains was amazing, but difficult. Learning to snowboard was fun, but painful.

This winter, I hope to take that next step, whatever that may be. You’ll get a chance to read about my many misadventures in my upcoming series, one I can only assume will be incredibly entertaining to you winter sport veterans. Hopefully I’m beyond the point of running over little girls and making two-foot jumps seem like 20-foot cliffs.

Then again, I’m just hoping I remember how to get off the chairlift without making a fool of myself. We’ll find out, should winter ever decide to get here.

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