It’s never too late, or early, to learn to ski
Over the hill sure doesn’t mean no chance to go downhill.
One by one, these adult skiers slid down a tiny slope. Many wobbly, a few rather rigid but as smooth as porcelain and most with expressions of fear and anxiety plastered on their faces.
Jose Camacho gently pushed away from the safety of the flat surface and took off. Arms flailing, skis crossed and then a bit of a face plant into the snow.
“That’s OK, Jose, you’re getting better,” Barry Seitz shouted, switching from instructor to cheerleader.
Further up the hill at Powderhorn Mountain Resort, excited screams and contagious laughter echoed down toward the adults like an avalanche of taunting torment.
Learning to ski is a kid’s game. It’s easier for the youngsters. Boys and girls ranging in age from 3 to 14, 15, 16 years old were mastering skiing or snowboarding with relative ease.
The adults still were having fun. Sure, there were falls and even a few tears, but after a few tries, they all seemed to be getting it.
Camacho’s next attempt mirrored the previous fails, with a slight improvement.
“It’s all right, but it’s tough,” he said with a smile and a sigh. He’s lived in Hotchkiss for 30 years, so he’s used to the winters, but he decided it was time to learn how to ski.
At 40 years old, Camacho admitted learning to ski is not going to come easy. But he’s determined.
“I’m doing it for my son,” he said.
Up the hill, his 10-year-old son Marcus also was learning to ski. The safe bet is he’s doing better than Dad.
“I’m excited to ski with him,” Dad said.
Seitz, who obviously has glacier-like patience, shouted encouragement and gave masterful instruction to the beginner skiers. He has taught all ages over the years in his more than four decades of giving ski lessons.
He enjoys teaching adults, saying, “It’s very rewarding.”
Then, he shared a story from a few years back.
“The oldest guy I ever taught was 67 years old,” he said, then grinned. “I remember, he looked at me and said ‘Barry, this is so much fun, I wish I would have started when I was 50.’ “
Then, he laughed.
As Camacho struggled, Randy Earl, 28, and his girlfriend Jill Randall, 29, were picking up the sport quickly.
Earl looked a little stiff and a bit awkward as he glided down the slope, but he was getting the hang of it.
“To be honest, it’s not as difficult as I thought it would be,” he said. “I listen well, so I’m listening to everything (Seitz) has to say.”
After moving to Colorado from Minnesota three years ago, it was finally time for the couple to get out and enjoy the winter activities.
“We live in Colorado now, so it was time to do this,” Earl said with a smile. “I’m still staying active and like to get out, and these are beautiful views.”
“It’s something to do outside. Growing up in a winter state, you find a lot of things to do indoors,” he said.
Randall agreed it’s time to enjoy the Colorado winters.
“We have a bunch of friends who like to ski and snowboard, and we do a lot of stuff in the summer, and we wanted to do more in the winter,” she said.
After getting their ski legs on the tiny slope at the bottom of the hill, the next step was to jump on the lift and head up the mountain to test out what they learned on steeper slopes.
“I’m not nervous at all, he’s the nervous one,” Randall said, pointing to Earl.
He didn’t disagree.
“I’m nervous. I’m a little afraid of heights, which is strange since I’m so tall (6-foot-4). But I don’t plan to panic,” he said with a nervous chuckle.
After they got off the lift, each took a turn sliding down the slope. Camacho made it without falling, but it still was far from smooth.
Seitz offered a little smile as he watched.
“Believe it or not, Jose will catch up with the group after a couple of laps,” he said.
He better. Marcus is depending on it.