The tao of Tipsy Donkey | VailDaily.com
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The tao of Tipsy Donkey

Matt Zalaznick

Alas, none of us can say that and be taken seriously. Which is a shame, because it’s a fun, soul-soothing phrase to say – and isn’t skiing all about having fun and soothing the soul?

Skiers and snowboaders Wednesday and Thursday took a break from revelling in back-to-back powder days to ponder the possibilities of adding a little spice to the slopes with some fresh names for their favorite runs.

“Coming from New Orleans, I’d give them a little Cajun flavor,” said John Grimstead.



You mean like Jambalaya, Crawfish Pie or Filet Gumbo? You mean something like Clifton Chenier’s Face?

“Tabasco would be a good name for a tough run – few people can stomach it,” Grimstead said.



So who’s Clifton Chenier? A gold medal downhiller from Bayou LaBatrie? The first man to blacken a rocky mountain trout at 8,150 feet? No, he’s the godfather of the Cajun accordion.

Why not name a few runs after everybody’s favorite rock bands?

“Not Rolling Stones; that would be bad karma,” said Chris Oppenheimer, a Vail Mountain powder reveller from East Vail.



Well, what’s your favorite band then? What tape is in your car stereo this week?

“Learning How to Speak French,” Oppenheimer said.

That’s an awful name for a ski slope, though Vail does have Apres-Vous, which means something in French, and Blue Ox, which everyone knows is French for “waffle iron.”

“You need to know all the names that aren’t on the map, like Sugar Mountain, WFO, Teenage Wasteland and Rock Garden,” Oppenheimer said.

Hah! “Sugar Mountain” is an old Neil Young song.

But Avon skier Michael Moon, contacted skiing at Beaver Creek Thursday, said naming runs after bands and musicians could cause confusion and alienation. Since skiers have a diversity of tastes in music, whether a run was renamed Humperdink Hollow or Captain Beefheart it would still only appeal to a small percentage of powderhounds, Moon said.

“If you started using band names or songs you’d only be appealing to a quarter of your demographic,” Moon said.

Surely, though, there are singers so universally beloved they would strike a chord in every skier and snowboarder’s heart – Elvis, the Beatles, Simon and Garfunkel, Edith Piaf, Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen?

“That’s not very manly to be skiing down a run called Barbara Streisand,” Moon said.

Like we said, skiers and snowboarders were treated to back-to-back powder days this week. If you couldn’t get up the hill, never fear because the slopes are in great shape and it’s supposed to start snowing again later today and could keep snowing until Christmas Eve. But we digress.

Elementary schools often get named after presidents or civil rights leaders. It is possible our ski resorts could be more responsible citizens of the 21st Century and create awareness through ski slopes?

“If we had a an Ida B. Wells run or a Susan B. Anthony run that would be cool,” said Minturn snowboarder Robin Nash. “It would be cool if it was all women.

“No white men and we’d approve it,” said her friend, Edwards snowboarder Katie Kerns.

So no chance of a double-diamond run called “Nathaniel Hawthorne?”

“No,” they said.

Well, we have to agree. While everyone should have read “A Scarlet Letter,” the conflicting concepts of faith, conformity, self-expression through sexual awakening and adultery in Puritan, pre-colonial America doesn’t really get us rarin’ to ski.

In giving Beaver Creek Mountain credit for naming its run after animals, trees and birds, Kerns raised the frightening specter of corporate sponsorship.

“The Beav is nature-oriented, which is better than having corporate names like “Centennial, sponsored by Pepsi,” Nash said.

A careful check of Beaver Creek trail map shows: Bald Eagle, Golden Eagle, Osprey, Ptarmigan, Royal Elk Glade. Yep, birds and animals. No corporate sponsors.

In keeping with the eco-friendly theme, we also suggest to the Vail Resorts Run-Naming Department the following: Recycler, Conservation Glade, Solar Power, Clifton Chenier’s Face and Tipsy Donkey.

Professor Edy Greenblatt of the University of Southern California probably wishes she hadn’t been in the singles line when the Vail Daily’s three-member slope-witness news team was getting on the Vista Bahn Wednesday.

If she was in charge, we asked her, if she owned Vail Mountain, if she could do whatever she wanted, if she was chairman of the Eagle County Board of County Commissioners and Mayor of Vail and head of the Eagle-Vail Metropolitan District Board of Trustees, what would she change the name of the ski runs to?

“That’s a stupid question,” Greenblatt said. “Ask someone else that.”

Obviously, Greenblatt wasn’t aware of the debate raging in the valley over the names of ski runs.

“There’s no need to change the names,” Greenblatt said.

Note: There is not a debate, raging or un-raging, about the names of runs at either Vail or Beaver Creek mountains, except for among all the people who demand that something in the valley be renamed Tipsy Donkey.

“If you want to hear something that no one else is going to say, I’m the director of the Center for Strategic Restoration,” Greenblatt said.

No one else said that. So what is strategic restoration?

“If you have a sedentary job and you get very little sunlight, skiing is very likely restorative, reading a book is not,” Greenblatt said.

Hah! So you’re against literacy! Poor old Nathaniel Hawthorne –he’s got no chance. Wait, would Sedentary Job be a good name for a run? And old Nate shouldn’t fret because in strategic restoration, the converse would be true, meaning all your ski patrollers ought to stop by the library on the way home.

Plus, Greenblatt said, we all need some restoring.

“Daily life tends to be depleting,” she said. “If you don’t pay attention, you’re going to get burned out.”

That’s true and If You Don’t Pay Attention, You’re Going To Get Burned Out might work for a tree run.

“Whenever I come to Vail,” Greenblatt added, “there’s great snow. It must be karmic.”

Ah-hah! There we go: It Must Be Karmic. That’s a great name for a run back in Blue Sky Basin. We like it much better than Iron Mask.

Matt Zalaznick has one Clifton Chenier CD. It rocks. And no, you cannot borrow it. And, if you’re looking for the Who album that has “Teenage Wasteland” on it, the title of the song is “Baba O’Reilly.”


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