‘First-timers’ ready to hit the slopes | VailDaily.com

‘First-timers’ ready to hit the slopes

Melanie Wong
Vail, CO Colorado
Preston Utley/Vail DailyCynthia Wood, who recently moved here from Ohio and has never skied before, bought equipment at the ski swap and says she's excited about her first season.

EAGLE COUNTY ” Vail resident Cynthia Wood has never skied.

“One of the first questions you get asked when you meet people is, ‘Do you ski or snowboard?'” said Wood, who moved to Vail from Ohio in May. “I typically tell them I’m going to learn. They’re usually shocked, but tell me I’m going to love it.”

But Wood’s status as a slope newbie will change this season. She works for Vail Resorts, so she gets a few lessons each month, she said.

“I can’t wait for opening day,” she said.

Many new valley residents are looking forward to their first season on Vail’s slopes, and for some, like Wood, it will be their first season on skis.

Wood said she skied once, but she stayed on the bunny hill and it was on slopes in the Midwest. While she is excited to learn, she’s pretty nervous, too, she says.

“I’m scared of heights, so I’m really scared of the lifts,” she said. “I’m going to take the gondola for awhile, and I’ll definitely have to buy a helmet.”

She didn’t come to Vail expecting to take up skiing, she said.

“I didn’t actually picture myself skiing at first. I imagined myself sitting at Venture Ridge or tubing,” Wood said.

But her friends and other local residents were excited for the season, so she warmed up to the idea, she said. After seeing the Warren Miller ski film in Beaver Creek, she was especially pumped, she said.

A first season in Vail can be a new experience even for veterans. Eagle-Vail resident Ian Craig recently moved to the valley from Baltimore. He has snowboarded for 13 years and skied for 4 years, but he said the East Coast slopes will be nothing like Vail.

“I’m excited to get out there and explore the Back Bowls and find all the hidden spots,” he said. “At home we had about two mountains and after awhile you’ve skied everything.”

He hopes to become a much better skier and maybe even take up telemarking and some backcountry skiing, he said.

Eagle-Vail resident Josh Ripp, 26, is no stranger to skiing either. He grew up in Colorado Springs and recently moved from Silverthorne and has been skiing for years, he said. But this season he plans to learn how to snowboard.

“I’m just going to get a day of lessons and go try it,” he said.

He’s also looking forward to living right next to the slopes.

“It’ll be fun to not have to make plans or drive very far. You’ll just wake up and say, ‘I’ll ski today,” he said.

But costs can really add up for a new valley resident. Craig said he is checking out telemark skis and will probably buy some new boots this winter. Aside from snow equipment, summer equipment is expensive, too, like his new mountain bike, he said.

“It’s becoming a yard sale of sporting goods around here. It’s getting more and more expensive, and it’s even more to maintain the stuff you have,” he said.

Finding equipment can be especially challenging for a new skier, but there are plenty of shops and sales to find gear.

Wood picked up her first pair of skis and some boots at the Ski Swap.

“It was very overwhelming, but I had friends with me who told me what to get,” she said.

She also got some bargains on ski jackets and other clothing at the Blizzard sale.

“Every year we get people new to the sport who come in,” said Andrew Couperthwait, manager of Christy Sports in Avon.

It’s better for a beginner who is going to be skiing a decent amount to get “low-intermediate” skis that are a little softer and more flexible, he said. That way, the skier will grow into the skis, which will last a couple seasons, he said.

“There’s really no such thing as beginner’s equipment,” he said. “All you’ll be doing is sacrificing quality for a cheaper price.”

His recommendation for new skiers looking to purchase equipment is to find a salesperson they are comfortable with who will take into consideration the skier’s goals and how much they will be on the slopes.

People also can also rent a few times before they buy, he said.

“That’s a good way to go if you’re unsure about your level of commitment and how much you will be skiing,” he said.

What is special about the valley is that skiing, snowboarding and being outdoors is just a way of life, Craig said.

“People are just enthusiasts here,” he said.

Wood said she is not normally an “outdoors person,” but the enthusiasm of people in the valley who ski, bike, hike, snowboard and raft makes her more excited about skiing and outdoor life in general.

She really enjoyed hiking this summer, she said.

“I’m so not an athletic person. I’ve always been the girly girl. But it’s really rubbing off on me. You just want to be outdoors here,” she said.

Staff Writer Melanie Wong can be reached at 748-2928 or mwong@vaildaily.com.

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