Latinos hit A-Basin slopes as first timers
Summit County, Colorado
ARAPAHOE BASIN, Colorado ” Celia Martinez, 31, of Silverthorne never had a chance to try snow skiing until a local program opened the door for a group of Latinos to Summit County’s most popular sport.
The beginners on Thursday concluded a set of weekly lessons to get them carving turns and cracking smiles at Arapahoe Basin Ski Area.
“The first time it’s scary,” Martinez said. “But other times it’s easy, exciting ” nice.”
She said she was glad her husband kept an eye on their four kids while she and the other group of mostly women skied the springtime snow.
“I wanted and I needed time free for myself,” she said.
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Summit Prevention Alliance covered the four-week program ” including rentals, lift tickets and lessons ” through a grant from the Colorado Office of Health Disparities, and A-Basin offered a “steep” discount to boot.
Ski instructor Kirsten Isakson said it’s been fun to work with the group, which has ranged from four to seven or eight.
“It has been great to see them become empowered,” Isakson said. “They started out never putting skis on to cruising around and choosing where they want to go on the mountain.”
Jannine Walldan, the OHD project coordinator with Summit Prevention Alliance, said many of the women had been asking about learning to ski, but the expense and experience were a bit overwhelming.
A-Basin’s smaller size and family atmosphere fit the profile for the program. Leslie Walker, with A-Basin, said this is the first such program to be hosted at the ski area.
“It’s a great time,” she said. “It’s not as busy as the rest of the season, (so it’s) less intimidating.”
Walldan said many of the participants are from the Latinas en Movimiento, a local women’s exercise group.
Many are also the parents of kids who’ve participated in the SOS Outreach program, which uses winter and outdoor sports to help build character in underserved youths. She said parents had been watching the kids ski and wanted to give it a try.
A couple of men have participated, and she said more of them had expressed an interest in taking the lessons if snowboarding was offered.
“We’re trying to get them involved in our culture,” Walldan said. “We’re trying to teach ’em how to be ski bums a little bit, too.”
Delia Perez, 35, gave a thumbs-up when asked whether she’s enjoyed the program.
“I always wanted to learn and am really happy that I’m learning,” she said, adding that she intends to continue with the sport in the future.
Gloria Higueira, 46, said she’s learned to turn and was planning to ride the lift to the top of the mountain Thursday.
“I like it,” she said. “The classes (are) good.”
Walldan said the program ” which is expected to be offered again next year ” wrapped up with a grill-out party on the snow-covered A-Basin beach.
“I wanted them to get the experience of the beach,” she said. “They were like, ‘La playa ” la playa aqui?'”
OHD contributes millions of dollars to combat heart disease and obesity in Colorado, she said, so the beach party included healthy food such as veggie burgers and chicken-and-apple sausage.
Summit Prevention Alliance is a nonprofit promoting healthy lifestyles in Summit County. Walldan said hiking, soccer, volleyball and perhaps even kayaking are to be offered this summer.
Martinez said that after learning the moves of skiing, she’s ready to take on another, more extreme alternative sport.
“My next sport: I want to motocross,” she said, grinning.
Robert Allen can be contacted at (970) 668-4628 or