Hockey player skis to China Bowl for dollars | VailDaily.com
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Hockey player skis to China Bowl for dollars

Daily Staff Writer

Stephen DeGroatDaily ColumnistMiles of cat tracks, service roads and acres of alternative terrain net $2,000Three years ago, I was assigned a private lesson with Saul – his first time ever on skis. Saul was a retired professional hockey player from the big Apple, vacationing with four of his old teammates.After brief introductions were exchanged, I asked Saul what he would like to accomplish in today’s lesson. During the course of my teaching career, I’ve asked this question a thousand times. The responses are fairly predictable: “I want to be able to turn.” “I want to be able to stop.” Or, “I want to be able to ski with my husband.” Saul’s response was more specific: “I need to meet my friends at the bottom of China Bowl at 11 a.m.” It was now 9:15.For those unacquainted with Vail Mountain in the Colorado Rockies, China Bowl is a vast expanse of expert terrain that lies on the backside of the resort, more than five miles from where we were standing. In order to reach the bottom of China Bowl, you need to be comfortable skiing on a variety of terrain, including untracked powder (sometimes up to your knees), fairly steep pitches, skiing through trees and navigating over moguls the size of Buicks. Even with all of the tricks that I’ve acquired, I doubted that it was in Saul’s best interest for him to attempt meeting his friends at the bottom of China Bowl. So, I asked him, “How important is it that you meet your friends at 11 a.m.?” Saul said it was VERY important.Over the years, I’ve learned not to second-guess my client’s requests. If it won’t sacrifice life or limb, make it happen. So, with a 30-second primer on today’s ski equipment, I put Saul into a braking wedge and we pushed off for China Bowl. After following miles of cat tracks, service roads and acres of alternative terrain, we slid into the bottom of China Bowl at 10:50.Ten minutes later, Saul’s friends arrived at the pre-determined meeting place with their jaws dropping to their knees. How could he possibly have made it? Did he cheat and catch a ride on a snowmobile? Did he bribe a ski patroller to cart him down by rescue sled?Pleading with me to expose the myth of how a first time skier could possibly make it to the bottom of China Bowl in his first two hours on skis, I testified that Saul had, indeed, made it all the way under his own power. With that, each of Saul’s friends dug deep into their pockets and handed him five, one hundred-dollar bills. It seems that the night before, Saul bet his friends $2,000 that he could master the sport of skiing in just one morning.Vail, Colorado


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