As convenient as it would be for the sake of nostalgia… (“the sign of a dying culture,” said some guy whose parents never let him play with knives or mud or anything fun in his youth… one time I was building a walking robot dinosaur in my basement and cut my finger open with an x-acto knife. Gawd, those were the days, when I could stitch up my problems with the basement washtubs and a roll of toilet paper).
Ok. As convenient as it would be for nostalgia, my world of skiing did not start at Powder Ridge. When I was about two years old (the same year that my father was supposed to be watching me at the house, but somehow I ended up running around on the roof)… or three, or four, or whatever… my parents went out to Breckenridge and dumped me and my sister in their ski school/day care/kennel. Parents were able to cast off the shackles of their genetic inheritants and play on the Big Mountain (or mountains, as anyone who has been to Breck knows that it’s spread across a number of groovy peaks), as their squalling balls of frustration played on the insubstantial hill at the kennel.
I, of course, don’t remember any of this. As I creeped into my later elementary school years we made a habit of going out to Colorado every spring break to ski. We would always stop at a restaraunt called Casa Bonita in Denver, which was a slapdash arrangement of Mexican food and high-class entertainment. They had cowboy shoot-outs and cliff jumpers and waterfalls and caves and mariachi bands and a gorilla that kept escaping. It was the coolest place ever.
We usually went to Copper Mountain and Winter Park… or maybe we went to each one only once. I wasn’t blogging when I was nine so there’s really no way to look back and figure out what I did when how many times with who. One year we went out to Big Sky in Montana. One night as we were staying in a hotel in Winter Park we watched Jaws Two, and that pretty much ruined the ocean for me for a good portion of my youth. I think it was that same trip where we first got introduced to Twin Peaks, so that would put it around ’91. My mother and sister became obsessed with the show. I was too young to understand what was going on, but thanks to DVD technology I am able to relive the obsession I never had.
When I skiied it was never about form or posture. One time we went skiing with the Prestons (why the hell-?) and I remember Mrs. Preston talking about balancing a tray on her arms and then “prowling like a cat.” I thought she had gone crazy. I stole a rocky mountain rock on my way down that run. My family said I would get arrested by the forest service.
At Big Sky (I think) a photographer tracked our family down and offered to take our pictures. In an uncharacteristic mood (we usually viewed such things as unnecessary expenses) we agreed and shot a few family photos. This was the neon stage of the 80’s and I was decked out with matching head band, snow pants, gloves and jacket. By matching I mean neon green and pink. It was awesome.
Hmm. I think it was actually the early 90’s. We probably didn’t get over neon until ’92 or ’93. The move Encino Man has pure 80’s hair and style and color, but it wasn’t made until ’92. The decades aren’t nearly as distinct as you think they are. Damn.
My poles and skis matched too, and by matching I mean neon orange and yellow. After I got rid of the bondage skis back at Powder Ridge, I got some white Elans along with my sister. Given my record for losing things my father write my name and phone number in permanent marker across the tips of both skis. I felt like such a dork. I grew out of these skis as quickly as possible (or lost them) and got some K2 Rage skis. They were the envy of the 5th grade, hip and black with neon artwork and yellow bottoms.
They were also the last downhill skis I ever bought. In junior high we had something called Idea Day. Idea Days relieved our unappreciated teachers by letting kids go out and have fun in the real world while supposedly learning something. There were lots of options. You could go to the zoo. You could… uhh… go to the zoo. You could not skip Idea Days and were required to choose an activity. Either you go to the zoo… or… uhh… go skiing, I guess.
It was ’93 or ’94. We took a coach bus up to Spirit Mountain in Duluth. It was the last time I ever experienced the K2 Rage. It was also the last time I would downhill ski for seven years.