Saturday, November 21, 2009

Skiing Breckenridge and Keystone Colorado November 2009

Here I am in Breckenridge Colorado, what a Life this DUG guy has. The flight out was uneventful, but long. Flying a Cessna a little over 1,500 miles is a long way, I think we had to stop for fuel 8 times. I need to play some poker and hopefully earn enough to buy a commercial ticket back to the East Coast. I love flying with Austin, but maybe I need to wait until he gets a faster plane for these long trips.

We met up with Big Ed at the Valdoro Mountain Lodge what a great place, facilities seem new and the people are very helpful, the best part is the place in empty, between the lack of snow and the economy, we have the place to ourselves. Who ever said a depression is bad.

We all met up about 3:00 PM on Saturday, got situated, the place we are staying, is a time share so Big Ed’s place has two bedrooms, a living room and a kitchen. We went out and rented skis, though the snow is light we have confidence we will get some snow before we have to go back. We got our skis at Mountain Outfitters in Breckenridge. We also did some food shopping, then we just hung out.

Sunday morning I got up and did a quick work out, I am trying to hold my fitness from the Wineglass Marathon, as I might do a spring Marathon and I have registered for the Diamondman Half Ironman Triathlon in September 2010. I was happy the altitude did not bother me as we are at 10,000 feet.

Once we all had breakfast we headed to the slopes. There is a gondola in the center of town that takes you up to all the ski facilities. I had not skied in over 25 years and that ski experience was a fall down an icy mountain in West Virginia and then a few days in the lodge drinking beer. So I thought to get a better handle on this ski thing, I should take some lessons. Big Ed decided to join me on the lessons. Austin was going to try Telemark skiing so he also was going to take lessons.

The folks at the sale center were very helpful they lined up Jay as Austin’s instructor and Ian Leirfallom as Big Ed’s and my instructor. We all met at 10:00 am I had signed up for a 3 hour lessons. We started with the basics, it was very interesting in that most of the other students in the area were under 6 years of age, and most had more skiing skills that I did.

Once I learned how to wedge (stop) we went to the bunny slopes, were Ian taught me a few skiing skills, tipping, wedging my skis to stop, and how to turn. I felt like I was getting these skills and could go down this VERY gradual slop in full control. I was skiing and enjoying it. We had about 15 minutes left in our 3 hour lesson. Big Ed was a much better skier then I, so Ian had spent time teaching Big Ed how to ski backwards.

To get back down to the ski village, we had to go down a much steeper slope then we had been learning on. Ian said it would be easy and just focus on the skills he had taught me. The last skill taught was how to crisscross the hill so you do not gain too much speed in fact you could turn up the hill to slow or even stop. I could do this skill to my right very well, but not at all to my left. We started down the hill / mountain, I crisscrossed about 4 times and then started picking up a lot of speed and knew the only way to get control back was to crash and boy did I crash, ripping off one ski and wrenching my knee. Luckily nothing broke. Ian helped me up and we slowly made it back down the mountain.

Austin enjoyed his Telemark lessons, but decided he was more of an alpine skier. After a $40.00 lunch (3 hamburgers), Big Ed and Austin went skiing on the harder trails, and I went back to the bunny slope. I realized a good part of skiing, like mountain biking is confidence, the last fall had taken away some of my confidence and I felt like I was starting over from square one. After about 1.5 hours of practice I was getting tired and still had to go down the steeper hill (where I had crashed earlier) so I decided before I got to tried I better head down. Almost in the exact same spot as before I crashed. This time I was going a little slower and was a little more graceful, the big issue was without Ian to help, I could not get back on my skis, no mater what I tried I could not get up. After about 5 minutes of trying to get up, a very nice couple saw me struggling, and stopped to helped me up they also made sure I made it the rest of the way down.

I found Big Ed and Austin having a blast on the harder trails, my knee was still aching so I just hung out and watched for a while. I decided to ordered another ski lesson with Ian for the next day.

After Austin and Big Ed were done, we headed to town to exchange Austin Telemark skis for Alpine skis. We were all a little sore so we headed to the hot tub for a few hours and then a nice dinner at Taddeo’s Italian Restaurant the service was great and the food just OK.

After dinner we all crashed hard, a day of skiing can wear you out.

Monday we headed to the mountain I had another lesson with Ian at 10:00, when we meet he explained he felt some of my trouble was do to my skis. He said they he thought the skis I had were to long and high performance for a beginner. So we went over to the ski shop where Ian helped me get a pair that would better suit me.  This alone was worth the cost of the lesson. We then headed up the mountain and reviewed all the basics from the day before, we spent about and hour practicing the skills he had taught me and then we went down the long run I had crashed on the day before. I made it down 2 out of 3 times without falling. I was building back my confidence. While Ian was helping me Big Ed and Austin had been doing the more difficult runs. After Lunch I went back to practicing on the harder part of the easy run, making it down several times without falling. Big Ed and Austin offered to guild me down a much longer run telling me it was not any steeper then the run I had been doing just longer.

So we took a lift that went up and up and up and up to the top of the mountain. As we got off I saw clearly that this run was MUCH STEEPER then the run I had been doing, but the only way down was by skiing so off we went. Big Ed and Austin did a great job of coaching me down and I only fell once. I was very pleased with my progress and decided to take a break.(See video below)

We skied a few more runs and then called it a day. We were all fried, I returned all my skis I had two sets at this point and then we picked up a new set for Tuesday. We cooked dinner in, and then just all vegged out.

Today (Tuesday) we are going to ski at Keystone also JB, Big Ed’s wife is coming to town to meet up with us. Her assignment was completed early so she decided to join up with us. I still have not figured out if she is KGB, CIA, MI6, or CSIS, but she has to be a agent for one of these spy agencies.

It ended up that Keystone only had blue black trails open, so Big ED and Austin did a couple of runs and then we headed back to Breckenridge. I focused on the green runs and really improved my skills. Big Ed and Austin worked all the trails. We all had a blast. We meet up with JB, and had a great dinner at Hearthstone Restaurant beside having great food and service, during the week they have a two for one special. During dinner, JB talked a little be about her last assignment, though she is very discreet, we figured out it had something to do with getting a Pakistani scientist out of Pakistan to gain asylum in the United States. As you look at the pictures you will not see any of JB as she tries hard not to be photographed.

One great thing that happened today on the ski lift I ended up sitting next to a US Airways pilot who is also an armature poker player. We worked out a deal he got me a free ticket on a flight back (first class) to the east coast and I have to give him some poker lessons over the internet. This was a huge plus as I have been so tired after skiing that I have no time to play poker, so if this ticket did not materialize, it would have been flying back with Austin.

Heading back to Botswana next week, it has been almost 2 months on the east coast.

Some Bad news on my return, Big Ed emailed me that Haley Rose Gans had died on the same slopes that Big Ed and Austin had been skiing on. Haley was just 14. This really sucks.


See pictures and videos below.

Video DUG Skiing Breckenridge

Video Big Ed and Austin Skiing Breckenridge

Video Big Ed and Austin Skiing Keystone

1 comment:

Anonymous said...


Did you really stop 8 times for fuel on the way out? That's crazy. The most dangerous part of flying is taking off and landing, you upped your risk profile dramatically.
Glad you learned to ski, I could envision the whole process.
I don't believe you about the USAIR situation, you probably bought your own ticket.
Sad about that girl!
Enjoy Botswana, we'll leave the light on...