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World Cup is a world of fun for skiing fans

FemaelstromAlison OsiusGlenwood Springs, CO Colorado

The World Cup was coming, and Belinda the ski coach said frankly, “Friday would be a good day for the kids to miss school, and watch and ski.”Two weeks before, we’d been worried about covering Strawpile, the course on Aspen Mountain, with manmade snow; who knew the WC would coincide with our biggest snowstorm? On Thursday night, 18 inches fell, and Friday the downhill was canceled for too much snow, but my sons were in line for the first gondola.

Two of their friends from Aspen, where school was canceled, were shocked to see these two Carbondalians – ahead of them, even. “We just called you five minutes ago rubbing it in!”The boys skied so much powder they couldn’t breathe, and had to keep stopping. On the Jackpot run, Roy, 11, said he was “chewing snow,” and Teddy, 14, that at one point he couldn’t even see, just kept turning without knowing where he was going. On Saturday we were up at 5 a.m. Teddy was due at Lift 1A at 6:45 to help with coursework. Never mind that we live downvalley, or that I’d gone to my office Christmas party, in Redstone, the night before, or that we were volunteering at the Aspen Valley Ski Club gala fundraiser that night, returning home at midnight.We drove up in silent snow to the 1A dropoff, still dark but abuzz with people carrying skis, drills, gates, and spools, and where crate-filled vehicles pulled in and out.Roy, incoherent with lack of sleep, and I drove off to ski at Aspen Highlands, where I have my pass.We rode up the Loge lift to see the first skiers, shouting, drop into the humped depths of smooth, ghostly Steeplechase. I anticipated first tracks as well, but Roy’s goggles fogged up, and he fussed, and we had to go into the patrol shack.

Ten minutes later we dropped into a now-tracked Steeplechase. It was my first day of the season, Roy’s 11th. I soon fell; then linked tentative turns to where Roy waited.”Havin’ a little trouble, Mom?” he asked.As we proceeded, he shouted instructions, which turned out to be, “Arms out! Carry your speed!” I reached him and snapped, “Don’t shout while I’m skiing. Wait until I stop.”From behind his opaque lenses he said meaningfully, “Maybe I couldn’t tell if you were moving or not.”He got stuck, ski tips auguring, as we skied under Loge, and I had to dig him out. Then I fell, and suddenly understood how people smother in snow. Straining with every muscle, I moved barely an inch. I struggled, panted, and rested; fought anew. On the lift directly above, people shouted “Woo hoo!” as I lay prone in my pink jacket. Many laughed, and I wanted to bellow, “Bite me!”I suggested Olympic Bowl, though Roy murmured, “I have a bad feeling about this.” Then we floated, whooping; my arms out, speed up. And all was well, and we skied it again before heading back to watch the World Cup.



That night at the gala, a semicircle of boys stood talking with the smiling champion Lindsay (Kildow) Vonn, and Teddy met Tamara McKinney, the only American woman ever to win the overall World Cup, when she crooked a finger at him and his friends. Teddy thought they were in trouble for stealing olives from the bar, but she only wanted to ask about their race program, and she took a picture of him with her 9-year-old daughter.The next day, as my unread newspapers piled up in their plastic wrappers like firewood, Teddy sideslipped the unbelievably steep and icy course. From the side, he watched the women race.”They’re so fast!” he said. “I saw them come down sections that were so icy and rutted, any of the junior racers I know would have been sliding.” The women punched it.And we drove home, and the World Cup moved on until next year.Alison Osius lives in Carbondale and can be reached at aosius@hotmail.com.


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