APRIL FOOL’S: Man skis year-round at Vail
Vail Daily Road Rash Technician
Vail, CO Colorado
VAIL, Colorado ” When most mountain dwellers are putting up their skis and pulling out their bikes and fishing rods, Vail, Colorado resident Cooper “Gnar Gnar” Schmaltzberger is only mid-way through his ski season.
Schmaltzberger, 31, said that he used to mourn the end of the ski season every April until he realized that he didn’t have to stop skiing.
He imbedded wheels into an old pair of skis, in similar fashion to the little wheels found on those roller shoes all the kids are wearing these days, allowing him to “roll” down the mountain. The grass fields are his groomers, and rocks and stumps become his moguls, he said.
“I mean, ski season starts late as it is,” he said. “I just see it as maximizing the season. It’s really not that different from skiing, say, in New England.”
The summer skiing is not for the faint of heart, he said. He learned the hard way, after taking one particularly nasty mid-July fall while wearing shorts and a tank top coming down Vail’s Highline run in July 2004.
You also have to watch out for hikers and fishermen while on the mountain, he said.
“You think waist-deep powder is real skiing?” he scoffed. “Wait until you’ve hucked a cliff in Blue Sky during mud season.”
A local touring company said it is considering trying the sport this summer by offering summer skiing tours to guests. It would be an extreme form of skiing, drawing heliskiers and big mountain skiers.
There has been some interest, the company said, although it is having some trouble getting liability issues worked out with the insurance company.
Despite the obstacles to the sport, sports psychologist Herbie Pickledeggs said that summer skiing could be the answer to ‘skier doldrums.’
“The doldrums are a very real problem,” Pickledeggs said from his makeshift office behind the Chair 5 lift building. “It is the depressed stupor that overtakes many skiers when the mountain closes for the season.”
Many community groups have rallied to battle skiers’ doldrums, organizing support groups and “Adopt a Ski Bum” programs.
Sign up to adopt a ski bum at your local town hall ” adoption packages include a photo of your ski bum as well as a list of baked goods your ski bum would like delivered to their Volkswagen van.
Others said that summer skiing pushes the limits a bit too much.
“You’ve got make the transition out of ski season,” said Vail local Shooter Goobermoon. “I know it’s hard, but you just gotta man up and pull out the summer equipment.”
Goobermoon said he actually looks forward to the end of the season so he can start training for his summer sport, Xtreme Ultimate adventure racing.
The multi-sport races are done in teams and require athletes to compete in a series of events, including the 50-mile barefoot trail run, ostrich race, and whitewater rafting via a caulked wagon, as seen on Oregon Trail.