Record-setting fun

Powderhorn draws lots of new faces to lessons

Powderhorn ski instructor Audrey MacLennan uses a hula hoop to help teach 3 1/2-year-old Wesley Hunninghake how to ski on Friday at Powderhorn Mountain Resort.



Dante Degiulio listens to his instructor, Spencer Shanley, as he takes off down the slope on his snowboard at Powderhorn Mountain Resort.



Fresh snow and fresh faces on the mountain were what Powderhorn Mountain Resort was all about on Friday morning.

Those fresh faces were getting ski and snowboard lessons from one of the instructors at Powderhorn. The day was also about Powderhorn being part of a world-record attempt for the largest mass ski and snowboard lesson from around the country.

Zoe Hall, 8, and Vincent Dufrane, 9, got a lesson from Kristine Cox, who is in her first season as an instructor at Powderhorn.

The siblings, who are from Virginia, were on skis for the first time. They had some rough times, but lots of successes and even more smiles.

Vincent was careful, but it was obvious he was ready to learn how to go fast even if it was his first time on skis.

Is it scary?

“No,” he said.

Was it scary at first?

“Kind of.”

Is it fun?

“Really fun.”

Zoe agreed: “I like it a lot,” she said giggling.

For Cox, teaching youngsters is a rewarding job.

“I just love seeing them learn a new sport and succeed at it,” she said.

At the bottom of the lesson hill was Zoe and Vincent’s grandfather, Mark Zipse, a Grand Junction native, who has been skiing for more than 50 years.

He smiled watching his grandkids attempt to get the hang of skiing. He joked that Vincent was a little too cocky before he strapped on the skis.

“This was his first time on skis and he wanted to do it,” Zipse said. “Of course, he thought he would just slap the skis on and jet down the hill.”

With a blanket of 9 inches of fresh snow, the mountain was filled with skiers and snowboarders. Even with temperatures hovering under 14 degrees, it was a splendid day on the slopes under blue and sunny skies.

Instructors kept a close eye on their students, shouting encouragement and instruction as the newbies slid down the small lesson hill.

“Bend your knees,” they would say. “Look where you want to go, don’t look at me.”

Sometimes it sounded like a pizza commercial.

“Pizza! Pizza!” “Make a pizza!” “BIG pizza!”

“Pizza” refers to the ski lesson of making a wedge/snow plow position.

“Handle bars!” “Big triangle!” “Don’t get out of control. If you get out of control, just sit down.”

Instructions came fast and furious.

“Turn the cold water on ... turn the hot water on,” Brittany Sutherland instructed Cash, 8, and Myles Salazar, 9, from Collbran. The instruction referred to turning their wrists one direction or the other.

Dante Degiulio took a spill on his snowboard but popped up smiling and welcomed a high-five from his instructor, Spencer Shanley, for a good turn before the minor mishap.

Dante, 11, from Mesa, had the day off from school at Plateau Valley, so he decided to come up and get a lesson.

He came to Powderhorn with some classmates a while back, and that’s when he knew he wanted to snowboard more.

“I was here with my school, and I’ve just loved to snowboard ever since,” he said.

And now, thanks to some lessons from Shanley, Dante is looking to have even more fun.

“You get to learn all the tricks on how to turn and stop,” he said. “I love being able to go down the mountain.”

Audrey MacLennan was having a blast giving Wesley Hunninghake a lesson. The 3½-year-old was a quick study on skis.

In her first season at Powderhorn, MacLennan has been giving lessons for only a few weeks. And she’s loving it. She really enjoys teaching the young kids.

“It’s really fun because they aren’t scared and they’re just out here to have fun,” she said, smiling. “Isn’t that right Wesley? We’re here to have fun!”

Wesley nodded in agreement.

Wesley was getting a good handle on skiing under the watchful tutelage of MacLennan. After several trips down the lesson slope and a couple further up the mountain, it was time for a reward: Hot chocolate.

The world record attempt was part of a simultaneous effort at select ski/snowboard resorts around the nation and Canada to have the largest one-day lesson ever. Last year, nearly 6,000 people of all ages took lessons on the same day. It was not listed as a new world record.

Ryan Robinson, marketing and sales manager at the resort, said more than 25 people took beginner lessons on Friday at Powderhorn.


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