Come along with me for the first run of the season!
Arapahoe Basin first opened with a single rope tow in December of 1946. The founding fathers included Frederick Schauffler, a medalist from the Olympic Ski Team and Laurence Jump, a soldier from the 10th Mountain Division. It has come a long way since then. With its high elevation and above tree-line peaks, this ski area is usually one of the first to open and the last to close. Danny broke his leg jumping cornices at Spring Splash on May 16th, 1987! I asked him how he still remembers the date and he replied, “It hurt.”
Wolf Creek beat out the Basin this year by opening on October 8th. A-basin began running its lifts five days later and Loveland followed on October 14th. Copper Mountain and Keystone shared opening day on November 5th and Breckenridge will be next on 11/11/11.
I rode up the chairlift with a snowboarder who had been back-country riding on Loveland Pass. I told him my son Kelly broke his back and pelvis over there while being filmed snowboard jumping in October his freshman year in college. “The snow was thin like this,” I said. He assured me there was a lot more on the top of the Continental Divide.
“Preseason can be pretty dangerous,” I said.
“I broke my leg last year,” he replied, “I learned when to quit. That’s why we came over here for our last runs.”
“I love the adrenaline rush of snowboarding,” he continued.
“I know!” I said and smiled, “It’s like racing your bike downhill really fast.”
“Do you waterski?” I asked.
“Yah, I wakeboard.”
“You know when everyone is in the boat waiting for you to say ‘hit it,’ but you have to wait until the moment is right when you feel balanced and you’ll be able to pull out of the water. Well that’s what it’s like for me.”
“I know what you mean,” he said.
There is a comradery among skiers that I love; the casual conversation on the lift, sharing crowded tables at lunch, and patiently waiting in lift lines. I have met people from all over the world. One year, I introduced myself to some DU students from Kuwait. They had ridden up on a bus from their college. Their uncle had bought a house in Denver years before and since then many relatives had come to school at DU. The more out-going young man of the bunch said, “I can open a drawer and find left over possessions from those who have used the house before me.” They teased one of their shy friends about “shredding in the bumps.” I don’t think he understood the word “shredding” or the word “bumps”and think he was still at the snowplow stage. I learned a lot about their culture and that we share the same sense of humor.
The second lift to the top of the mountain almost presented me with my first casualty of the season. As I snapped a photograph, my ski pole dropped from under my left arm. I don’t really know how I caught it between my skis. Danny looked down at the exposed jagged rocks below and said, “It would have been time for new poles!” The mountains could use some fresh snow, but this is the earliest I have ever skied.
Today’s run wasn’t very challenging, but I found the fresh air exhilarating, the mountain vistas breathtaking, and a few muscles I haven’t used since last March. It’s time to hit the gym in anticipation for our La Nina year. That could mean a very snowy season in Colorado’s high country. There is a snowstorm heading our way this week that will help build a base for all ski areas.
Let’s go skiing!
What is your favorite sport?
Have you ever gone skiing?