Zalaznick: Vail, keep the old lifts |

Zalaznick: Vail, keep the old lifts

Matt Zalaznick

Slow lifts are awesome. Because I really go skiing to make small talk with strangers and get blasted by frigid winds while swinging 40 feet above the Earth.That’s the thrill of snow sports – making turns is secondary, at best. It’s like, how awesome are those old, shoebox-sized mobile phones you see in TV shows from the 1990s? Man, I’d love to lug one of those beasts out on clunky old Chair 5 to answer a call from the buds I’m trying to hook up with in Blue Sky. The long ride gives us lots of time to blab about – rather than ride – the sick stashes we’re going to find. Baseball’s all about stats (not the game), and skiing’s about the stories (even when they’re told before they happen). Plus I need the rest that a long, plodding lift ride provides. I’ve been pounding my leg muscles blasting through the moguls on my vintage straight skis. Sure they’re unwieldy and unresponsive and uncool, but that’s small beans compared with the pleasure I get from showing the bros who don’t known Carl Howelsen from Howlin’ Wolf a bit of history while I’m on the hill.Plus, by the time I’ve straggled to the back of the mob waiting in Chair 5’s maze, I’m a little overheated from my wool sweater – all those fancy wicking fabrics and Goretexes and Thinsulates the kids wear these days are just too radical. Skiing’s about sweating while going downhill, broiling while waiting in the lift line and then freezing your frostbitten toes off on ride back up to the top. And those long lines? A joy. Instead of yet another leap from a cornice, I exult in the overheard conversations. If old No. 5 was some hurtling express chair that cleared out the maze efficiently, I’d miss the snowboarders slurring about how effin’ wasted they got the night before. I wouldn’t hear the Front Rangers complaining about how much everything in town costs and how far away they had to park. I’d be deaf to the Texans complimenting each other on the sweet hockey jerseys they’re skiing in.Those are the true sounds of the slopes – not the snow splashing through the pine trees or the air whoosing past you as you carve down the powdery steeps. Skiing is, if nothing else, old-fashioned. It’s not about UV goggles; it’s about having your eyeballs burned out by the sun. It’s not about staying hydrated; it’s about fainting from dehydration in a gully. It’s not about those crazy snowboards; it’s about everybody looking and behaving the same. The transcendent experience of the slopes comes slowly, and it’s too precious to be tainted by speed and technology. Think of all the other things technology has ruined – cars, hospitals, the Internet.Remember when the Internet was nothing but some top-secret military experiment Al Gore invented? What good has come from putting it in every home in the universe?When will you have the peace of mind to remember how much better life in Vail was in the old days if you’ve got an iPod blasting straight into your skull. I mean, you can connect an iPod to your helmet – and what’s with helmets anyway? Aren’t the tequila and nachos and disorderly conduct at the end of the day a bit more intoxicating when you’ve also got a low-grade concussion? If anything, Vail Resorts should replace Chair 5 with a rope tow. Better yet, if hiking up Sun Up Bowl was good enough for Pete Seibert, surely it’s good enough for the rest of us who’d only use speedy chairlifts to trample his pristine, money-making mountain.Assistant Managing Editor Matt Zalaznick can be reached at 748-2926 or

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