Getting my gaper on: A snowboarder buys some skis for the first time

Aspen Times sports editor Austin Colbert takes a selfie while riding a chairlift on Aspen Mountain last winter.
Austin Colbert/The Aspen Times |

Please, don’t tell my beloved snowboard, but I recently bought my first pair of skis.

It hadn’t been my plan that day during Four Mountain Sports’ annual blowout sale. Nonetheless, I walked out with my Nordica NRGY 90s and ski boots, probably looking like a Jerry as I awkwardly tried to carry the foreign equipment back to my car.

This is my third winter on a snowboard, and I finally feel like I know what I’m doing. I have big plans for my Never Summer this season, including triple-digit days on the hill, more bowl laps than I can count, and finally braving the Buttermilk superpipe.

Learning to ski will be a whole new adventure. I clearly remember my first season on a snowboard — which, again, was all of two years ago — and the eternal struggle. Thankfully it came on the gentler slopes in Steamboat Springs as opposed to the icy, vertigo-inducing gem that is Aspen Mountain (which, to be clear, no longer intimidates me and is my favorite area mountain to ride).

What I recall most about learning to snowboard is falling — a lot — and in general redefining what it means to be a gaper. Now that I’ve matured into a somewhat legitimate rider, I look forward to regressing back to the awkward teenage years as I learn the difference between pizza and French fries and the purpose of a ski pole.

I’m sure someone will try to convince me skiing is better than snowboarding, or vice-versa. But to be clear, I’m not here to choose sides, nor do I believe there is a better one (although the relative comfort of snowboard boots can make one never want to put on a ski boot ever again). I’m only here to learn a new way to shred pow.

Now that the season is finally here, the daydreaming can end. I think I’ll stick to my snowboard on opening day, but I’ll have those skis on the snow soon enough.

Probably at Buttermilk with the toddlers, where I belong.