Saturday, December 23, 2006

Things To Do In Colorado Before Turning 5 or 34: Ski

Last weekend marked the first time that my 4-year-old son got on skis. It also marked my first time on skis. I started snowboarding when I was 18 but I never skied.

We spent the weekend in Glenwood Springs and signed up for lessons at Sunlight Mountain. Sunlight has a reputation for being a family friendly resort just to the north of Aspen and it did not disappoint. The staff were probably the most friendly bunch I've ever encountered at a ski resort. We pulled into the parking lot at 9:30 and took the first spot two staircases from the lodge! My son's package cost $70 total. By comparison, our friends just took their son to Breckenridge for lessons and dropped $160. At one point on the lift, my instructor looked at me and asked if I knew what Aspen charged for his 4 hours of private service... $500.

I started my lesson in a group with a woman that had never been on a mountain and I was pulled out after 30 minutes because I was progressing quickly. The combination of snowboarding for 15 years and ice skating for 26 really made my transition to skiing relatively easy. In fact, my instructor scolded me several times for "turning up hill too much" when in fact I was intentionally stopping with a hockey stop like I've done probably a million times in my life. Stopping was exactly the same on skis as on ice skates for me, just longer "skates". And really, I think adjusting for slope and terrain is 75% of what you need to get down a mountain on either a board or skis. But I was most impressed with how easy skiing is on my body. On a snowboard I really torque my hip and knee in the lift line, strain my ankle on the lift up, pray getting off the lift, sit down to struggle with my less-than-limber muscles as I try to strap into my frozen bindings, push all of my weight to get up, then constantly work both edges of the board by twisting and flexing on the run. I felt like I spent 80% less energy up and down on skis. The most significant gains were getting off the lift and just gliding/going and just letting the skis release or not having to battle against the edges of the skis constantly. The day may have converted me... Talking to my friends that both ski and board, they said they like to board during powder days and ski other days or if they're with skiers. And come to think of it, I do still truly cherish my Ride Timeless!

Quote of the day, toilet wall scratches: Chuck Norris' tears cure cancer, but he never cries.