Strap on some nerve and enjoy sliding down Colorado’s slopes

Features writer Rachel Sauer tries to hold her teapot stance as she slides down the bunny hill at Powderhorn Mountain Resort. Adam Goeden, assistant manager of Powderhorn’s Ski/Ride Center and Rachel’s instructor for the day, give instructions from down the slope.



121513lsAdventuring1

Features writer Rachel Sauer tries to hold her teapot stance as she slides down the bunny hill at Powderhorn Mountain Resort. Adam Goeden, assistant manager of Powderhorn’s Ski/Ride Center and Rachel’s instructor for the day, give instructions from down the slope.

Rachel Sauer, left, instructed by Adam Goeden, gets ready for a turn at Powderhorn Mountain Resort..



121513lsAdventuring2

Rachel Sauer, left, instructed by Adam Goeden, gets ready for a turn at Powderhorn Mountain Resort..

Melinda Mawdsley smiles against the cold while riding up a lift at Powderhorn Mountain Resort. Melinda, who lived in Steamboat Springs for five years and spent plenty of time on the slopes, recently accompanied fellow features writer Rachel Sauer for a snowboarding lesson.



121513lsAdventuring3

Melinda Mawdsley smiles against the cold while riding up a lift at Powderhorn Mountain Resort. Melinda, who lived in Steamboat Springs for five years and spent plenty of time on the slopes, recently accompanied fellow features writer Rachel Sauer for a snowboarding lesson.

I thought maybe my teapot was broken. How else to explain why I kept falling down?

“Think about the song,” advised Adam Goeden, who’d taken on the Sisyphean task of teaching me how to snowboard. He put his arms in handle and spout position, a visual aid to help me remember where my own should be in relation to my snowboard as I slid downhill.

I responded to this useful advice in a rational, adult manner: I pouted.

Yes, I was bitter that my feckless muscles apparently had no memory of the two lessons I’d taken in January 2011 (and written about! I drew a whole cartoon about my experiences!), and I was mad at Rachel of the Past for not trying again since then. So, when fellow features writer Melinda Mawdsley and I headed to Powderhorn Mountain Resort on Tuesday, I was literally and figuratively starting at the bottom of the hill.

Melinda, who lived in Steamboat Springs for five years, is an experienced snowboarder who just needed a little refresher on her already-established skills. And I should point out that she is from Iowa. Iowa, and she can snowboard better than I can. And I’m from here.

Of all the adventures a person can have in this area, it seems that snow sports are the defining ones. Colorado is known worldwide for its skiing and snowboarding.

Sigh.

I called Powderhorn, where everyone is so nice and so helpful and so cool and would never judge me for my habit of going through the world in the manner of a newborn giraffe forced into roller skates. Adam, assistant manager of Powderhorn’s Ski/Ride Center, manfully stepped up to the task.

“Don’t blame yourself for anything that happens,” I told him before we even stepped outside. I didn’t want the poor guy to feel bad.

It’s just… so slippery, isn’t it? Strapped to my snowboard and more or less upright, I’m an ace at breathing shallowly and standing perfectly still. The train careens off the tracks when I actually have to move.

Adam, being the consummate pro, took it in baby steps. First, he had me practice balancing my weight. Then, we got a feel for what my legs, arms and hips should be doing during turns. Finally, and still in the practice area near the base of the bunny hill, Adam had us sit on a bench he’d put at the top of a tiny incline, to practice getting off the chairlift.

“OK!” Adam said, standing about 30 feet in front of me. “One, two, three!”

I kept sitting. I felt like he should have counted to 10, maybe, or 50. Finally, though, after much dithering and fluttering my hands, I pushed myself off the bench and didn’t fall! The days of miracles have not passed.

Things did not go so well getting off the chairlift to the bunny hill. I know it’s not, but that little hill at the top of the lift feels K2-steep. As you might imagine, I left my seat like I was starring in a Jerry Lewis movie and someone had just thrown a pie at me.

(The next two times, Adam very kindly asked the lift operators to slow it down to snail speed so I could stay upright, inspiring this heartfelt correspondence:

Dear Powderhorn lift operators,

YOU ARE AWESOME. If you ever feel like you need cookies or something, email me and I will make you some.

Very sincerely,

Rachel Sauer)

But once off the lift, I now stood at the top of the hill. And I know it’s just a little hill, and hardly an incline at all, and nothing to worry about, and youths barely out of diapers regularly fling themselves down slopes that probably could qualify as walls, they’re so steep, but… I was standing on a giant tongue depressor on top of several feet of snow. That’s unnatural.

As I mentioned before, however, Adam was fantastic. And patient. As was Melinda. They were supportive as I practiced going down on my board’s toe edge and also its ... toe edge.

“Now let’s practice heel edge,” Adam said.

“No,” I said.

I got overridden. Heel edge is a lot more difficult, I find, and just try standing up on your heel edge. I spent several quality minutes crab-crouched over my board as it slid sideways down the hill.

Then, we practiced turning from toe edge to heel edge:

Adam: Think of it like you’re making an arc with your hip pocket.

Me: (Plop.)

Adam: No worries. Now just try arcing your hip around, then look back over your shoulder toward where you want to go.

Me: (Plop.)

It is a mark of stellar character, I think, that I always got back up and tried again, mainly so that I could scowl at Adam as I flounced past (as much as you can flounce on a snowboard). And on my last run of the day, I not only didn’t fall, but made several successful heel edge to toe edge to heel edge turns. I don’t think it’s overstating this accomplishment to call it triumphant.

Plus, so fun. So, so fun! I get it. I get why people study the weather report with Talmudic fervor and sprint for the slopes at the first hint of flakes. Heading down a pristine white slope on a bluebird-sky day, with nothing to worry about except how much cocoa I can guzzle later, is one of the best thrills this beautiful area can provide.

So, yes, I will try again (and you’ve been warned, good people of Powderhorn).

Get going: Powderhorn Mountain Resort offers a variety of private and group ski and snowboard lessons daily from certified instructors, as well as special programs for all ages. Information and schedules are at powderhorn.com. To schedule a lesson, call 268-5700, ext. 2080, or email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). For general Powderhorn information, or to commend everyone there for being so kind and so chill, call 268-5700.



COMMENTS

Commenting is not available in this channel entry.




Search More Jobs






THE DAILY SENTINEL
734 S. Seventh St.
Grand Junction, CO 81501
970-242-5050
Editions
Subscribe to print edition
E-edition
Advertisers
Sign in to your account
Information

© 2014 Grand Junction Media, Inc.
By using this site you agree to the Visitor Agreement and the Privacy Policy