The Winter shuffle
By Andrew Tolvesummit daily newsCOPPER MOUNTAIN – When it comes to fashion, 35-year-old Ben Thompson’s life has a rather simple symmetry to it. In early summer, the Copper resident packs his winter gear into his closet, folded and neat, and bids farewell to another winter in Summit. Months pass. Seasons change. Then, as he did the year before, Thompson returns to his closet once again for that cherished winter shuffle.”I get all excited like a little kid before Christmas,” Thompson said Monday. “All my pants and gear get folded up and shoved into the closet (in June). A week before the first snow in the Fall, I pull all my stuff out and wax my board.”
As Thompson spoke, he stood with his friend, Luke Murphy, near the Burning Stones Plaza at the Copper Village. Snow machines whirred in the background. A brisk air blew between the two boarders. Murphy dragged on his cigarette and announced that he too has recently pulled his winter wardrobe from the depths of his closet. But, unlike Thompson, he has added a purchase to it.”These are brand new,” he said, pointing to his Special Blend, corduroy boarding pants. “I’m just trying to break ’em in, get some of the stiff out of ’em.”Thompson shook his head, holding back disdain.”I’ll Duck Tape my jacket before I buy a new one,” he declared.All across Summit, locals are engaging in this familiar winter debate: When do they pull their wardrobe out of storage? Do they add new clothes to the selection? Should they buy new gear for the season?Monday morning, across the Burning Stones Plaza from Thompson and Murphy, Harold De Blanc’s outfit seemed to answer all of the questions above. The 43-year-old Masters ski racer was bundled in a Schneider speed suit (shell and shorts included), a Briko helmet and Carrera goggles. A Thermex toe warmer was attached to his ski boots.
“Oh yeah, it’s out,” De Blanc said of his winter wardrobe. “(Every spring) I clean it and pack it neat in marked boxes where the kids can’t find it in a closet.”De Blanc added that each year he buys five new pairs of skis for the season. With his organization and his annual purchases in mind, he said he’s definitely a man who makes an art out of preparation.Such is not the case for Greg Kline, a 24-year-old who arrived in Summit five days ago from Jacksonville, Fla. The newcomer drove his 1995 Ford Explorer to the High Country with only two pieces of winter clothing to his name. His girlfriend (who had never seen snow) had none.”I traded in a surf board back home, got a $300 credit at the only surf shop that sells board stuff too and bought a snowboard jacket and pants,” Kline said at the Keystone River Run center Tuesday. “It’s crazy. I know it’s not even arctic cold here yet. My winter clothes are waiting to be purchased, basically.”When Kline – or anyone else – is ready to make that financial plunge, Chris Johnson of A Big Hit in Breckenridge said there are two paths they can follow. If they choose boarding gear, the new trends are pushing toward waterproof street gear (like corduroys, denims and synthetic suedes) offered in mostly soft, Earth-tone colors.Ski gear, on the other hand, has gone bright and colorful, Johnson said, what he calls “the bling.” Johnson promised that skiers can expect strong, primary colors and flashy designs on the slopes this year.
“Here’s the crazy part,” Johnson said. “What I’ve been seeing in 15 years of watching design, this year snowboard clothing looks like ski clothing looked a couple of years ago – Earth tones, really soft colors like whites and soft blacks and yellows, not the ’80s neon. Now you’re seeing the skiing going toward showing the bling, whereas the snowboarding is going a little more low-key.”Despite Johnson’s advice, Dave Sokol and Daryl Sutcliffe, both part of the lift operations department at Copper, say that reviving winter wardrobes – let alone updating them – is not what Summit County is all about.Sutcliffe, a 25-year-old from North Island, New Zealand, says that in hopping from continent to continent, he never packs his winter clothes away.And as for Sokol, he calmly brushed the question aside.”Pack it away?” he asked. “I don’t think that’s an option up here. I just hang it up and a couple of months later wash it and hope it doesn’t smell.”Andrew Tolve can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 13629, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.