From the workbench to the chair lift, Glenwood Springs snow sports shop helps prepare people for fun on the slopes
Brianna Carino’s knuckles flexed white Friday as the 15-year-old dragged a small, black block across the bottom of a snowboard in the Brian’s Bench workroom.
Surrounded by skis, boot bindings and myriad hand tools, the hooded teenager quietly listened to news chatter on the radio.
“This is only the second job I’ve ever had,” Carino said without looking up from her work. “I really like it, though, because there’s so much to learn.”
A week ago, Carino visited a friend working at the ski and snowboard rental and maintenance shop when the owner, Brian Benson, offered her a job.
“After I remove the excess wax, I’ll buff it up with a white brush,” Carino said, holding up a power drill with a brush attachment. “Then, the black brush, and I’ll finish it with a small wool square.”
Between a steady flow of customers, Benson popped into the workspace, apologizing for leaving Carino with nothing to listen to but the news. She shook her head as he tried to switch the channel, and told him it was interesting and easy to listen to.
Beyond the front desk, a mother watched over a handful of children, bundled in brightly colored winter wear, as they chattered about the different skis and snowboards waiting for pickup in the entryway.
“People want to get outside,” said Benson, 47, nodding to the piles of snow in his parking lot. “We’re all kind of rebounding from everything we’ve been through with the COVID-experience, and what better way than to hit the slopes?”
Home on the West Slope
A native of Colorado’s Front Range, Benson and his wife moved to Glenwood Springs about 12 years ago.
“My wife’s a teacher, and we were always applying to jobs in Summit County and Aspen — on a lark,” Benson said. “One day she got a bite, with a job offer at Coal Ridge High School, and we decided to make the leap.”
Having worked at Eldora Mountain Ski Resort’s rental shop for years prior, Benson’s skill set was in high demand, and it wasn’t long before he took a job as Mountain Sports Outlet’s mountain manager.
About five years ago, however, the business closed its doors, and Benson considered his options.
“I’d always wanted to open my own ski and snowboard shop,” he said. “I figured it was now or never.”
Location is key in any business endeavor, but it wasn’t long before Glenwood Adventure Co. owner Ken Murphy approached Benson about sharing a space at the company’s Cooper Avenue storefront.
“He made me an offer I couldn’t refuse, and I haven’t looked back since,” Benson said.
Brian’s Bench is open seasonally, and now located at 723 Cooper Ave. in a building the Adventure Co. uses for bike rentals during the summer months.
“My wife and I, we’re snow people,” Benson said. “For the longest time, we were committed to the mountain and didn’t think we’d have children. But we just welcomed our first Dec. 7.”
In 1997, Benson was working as netware engineer in Denver, when he took a weekend job at a ski rental shop primarily for the ski pass benefits.
A snowboarder at the time, Benson’s boss said if he was going to tune skis at the shop, Benson needed to know how to ski.
“When I learned to ski,” he recalled, “it totally changed the direction of my life.”
Feeding the powderhounds
Waiting for his favorite pair of skis Friday morning, Russ Brown’s frost white hair starkly contrasted his black snowsuit.
“They got about 3 inches of fresh powder at (Sunlight Mountain Resort),” said Brown, a Glenwood Springs native who’s skied Sunlight for more than 50 years. “Hopefully, they can get the top open soon, but the wind keeps blowing it all away.”
Benson handed Brown the skis, explaining he added a layer of molybdenum wax to compensate for the icy layers of freshly made snow on the ski runs.
Opened in 2017, Brian’s Bench offers winter recreation enthusiasts maintenance and rentals for skis, snowboards and equipment, such as boots, helmets and bindings.
“We get a good mix of tourists and locals in here,” Benson said. “This year, so many people are getting serious about the sport. We’ve seen a lot of renters showing up with new gear.”
In the summer, Benson works at the Adventure Co., but come the first snow, he’s dedicated to the slopes until spring.
“The business was really just an expensive hobby the first three years, but I love it,” he said. “Getting people in the snow is my passion.”
Reporter Ike Fredregill can be reached at 970-384-9154 or by email at email@example.com.
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