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Eagle’s newest shop doesn’t have a name, but it does have a cause

There’s a new pop-up shop in Eagle, which features an array of holiday items and more, and it’s only open until Dec. 23. Operator Vikki Hobbs is dedicating 100% of her store proceeds to her nonprofit organization Crawlin’ to a Cure, which helps local families impacted by cancer.
Pam Boyd/pboyd@vaildaily.com

If a global pandemic weren’t raging right now, Vikki Hobbs would be working the holiday market circuit to raise money for a cause that’s very dear to her heart.

But COVID-19 canceled the various craft fairs where locals shop and Hobbs attends as a vendor. Faced with the current situation, the Gypsum woman decided to try something new for 2020. She has set up a temporary craft shop in the space next to the Sinclair fuel station in Eagle, formerly the home of Stout House Coffee. Her operation will be open until Wednesday, Dec. 23.

Her shop doesn’t have a name but it does have a cause — 100% of the proceeds benefit Crawlin’ to a Cure, a 501(c)3 organization founded by Vikki and her husband Stewart to raise money for local families impacted by cancer and the Tiffany Myers Memorial Scholarship. The scholarship is offered to graduating students in Eagle and Garfield county area public high schools who have been impacted by cancer in their immediate family.

Hobbs said property owner Ed Oyler is donating the space for her pop-up shop.

“Because I am not here to make money for myself, he is just letting us be here,” she said.

When she isn’t helping customers, Hobbs is busy crafting away, supplying more merchandise for the shelves. She has also received donations from Marissa Bergstresser and Cameron Ewing. Sarah Jaramillo, who Hobbs describes as her “bow master,” has fashioned dozens of ribbon decorations for the shop.

Shoppers will find a large array of Christmas ornaments, personalized glass and stainless drinkware, wooden trays and wall hangings, clothing items and more. If something isn’t available immediately, Hobbs is willing to fashion custom orders.

Hobbs announced her venture on her Facebook page and has been pleasantly surprised by the downvalley community’s enthusiastic response to her shop. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that she is operating at one of the highest visibility locations in Eagle — at the northeast corner of the Eby Creek Road/Chambers Avenue roundabout.

It’s been a great way to conclude a disappointing year, Hobbs noted. Crawlin’ to a Cure had planned two of its signature off-road racing events last summer — one in Eagle and one in Grand Junction. Both races had to be canceled. Additionally, the nonprofit was going to run monster truck rides at the Western Colorado Sportsman and Outdoors Expo, another local event that is on hiatus this year.

But Hobbs hopes to make up some of Crawlin’ to a Cure’s lost revenues with her short-term retail effort. Her pop-up shop is open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays and from 1 to 5 p.m. on Sundays. To learn more about Hobbs’ nonprofit, visit crawlintoacure.org

Owens, Johnson crack World Cup moguls top 10

Vail’s Tess Johnson picks up the 24th top 10 finish of her career during’s Saturday’s Ruka, Finland, World Cup moguls event.

First competition of the season and two top 10s for local World Cup moguls aces Kai Owens and Tess Johnson — that’s a good day at the office.

Steamboat Springs’ Jaelin Kauf finished second and led two more Coloradans into the top 10 — Edwards’ Kai Owens in sixth and Vail’s Tess Johnson in 10th at the season-opening World Cup moguls comp in Ruka, Finland. France’s Perrine Laffont won the event.

For Owens, 16, it’s the best finish on the World Cup. Her previous high was 10th in Calgary, Alberta, on Feb. 1.

“I’m feeling really good, I’m really excited to be out here competing,” said Owens, through a U.S. Ski Team press release.. “This is an awesome event and a great course. It’s an honor to compete with everyone, they’re all my idols still. It makes me super proud of myself and how far I’ve come so I’m excited to keep skiing this season.”

Kai Owens

“[She] had one of the biggest bottom airs, men or women, today, especially in that qualifying round,” said Matt Gnoza, the U.S. Ski Team’s head moguls coach said. “That really helped her set the tone throughout the day with that high qualifying position. Kai’s a hard worker and I think what something like this [result] does is make hard workers work harder. She’ll dig in even more to find out what it’s going to take to go from that fifth or sixth to that podium position.”

Johnson, 20, is no stranger to the top 10. This was the 2018 Olympian’s 24th top 10 of her career. Johnson has podiumed before in Ruka, taking third in December 2018.

The tour heads to Idre Fjall, Sweden, for both moguls and dual moguls this weekend.

Letter: How you can stop animal cruelty

Colorado Voters for Animals would like to commend Vail Mountain School seventh-grader Reece Joseph for his excellent opinion piece on animal cruelty and what people can do to make the world a better place for nonhuman animals.

Not that long ago animals were viewed as “things” or property, there for our entertainment or exploitation. While we have come a long way from René Descartes belief animals were incapable of pain, so it was acceptable to dissect them while alive and without sedation, we still have a long way to go. Science has demonstrated many nonhuman animals share similar traits as humans; forming social groups, the ability to recognize themselves, having life-long bonds with a mate, the ability to experience pleasure, pain, hunger and thirst. Yet we often ignore or dismiss this sentience.

Let us hope the future is filled with more young people like Reece Joseph who recognizes the animals that share our planet are worthy of dignity, respect and compassion.

Roland Halpern, executive director of Colorado Voters for Animals


Birds of Prey flashback: Ted and Mikaela conquer worlds

Ted Ligety powers his way to giant-slalom gold during the 2015 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships. (AP file photo/Alessandro Trovati)

Yes, the 2015 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships lasted two weeks, but one can really boil them down to two days.

Of course, Tina Maze and and Anna Fenninger (now Veith) were the headliners on the women’s side. Marcel Hirscher dazzled, winning two golds (combined and the team event). Americans Lindsey Vonn (bronze, super-G), Travis Ganong (silver, downhill) and Ted Ligety (bronze, combined) all made the podium, a great improvement for the team after being blanked here in 1999.

As great as the array of stars and moments were, the 2015 world championships came down to two races — men’s giant slalom and women’s slalom — and Ted Ligety and Mikaela Shiffrin did not disappoint.

Once Ligety broke through at the Birds of Prey giant slalom in 2010, not only did he start winning, but he dominated. Ligety was as automatic as it got at Birds of Prey, almost Hermann Maier automatic.

Ted had won five of six giant-slalom starts here. Not only was he winning at Beaver Creek, but some of those races were over after the first run. In 2010 and 2011, he won by 0.82 and 0.69 seconds, substantial margins. By 2012, he crushed all comers by 1.76 seconds.

For 2013, Ligety won by 1.32 ticks, ahead of Bode Miller, who was having what he’d like to remember as Birds of Prey finale. Bode’s actual final run down Birds of Prey came in the 2015 worlds super-G, when he had a massive yard sale on Golden Eagle. In the process he tore tendons in his hamtring, an injury that finally meant retirement.

Mikaela Shiffrin enjoys the view from the top after winning slalom gold on home snow at the 2015 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships. (John Locher
Associated Press file photo)

As the 2015 worlds approached, Ligety’s hold on giant slalom at Birds of Prey was slipping. Ligety won the dress rehearsal for worlds with another GS win at Beaver Creek in December 2014, but he had to come from behind after the first run, eventually catching France’s Alexis Pinturault and Austia’s Marcel Hirscher.

Ted made it even more exciting at Worlds. He was fifth after the morning run, 0.24 seconds behind archrival Hirscher. The assembled throng at Red Tail bellowed when Ligety left the start house, as if it could actually prod him to ski faster.

As Ligety started passing intervals in the green, indicating that he had surged into the lead, the fans shook. When he came across the line in green numbers, meaning he had taken the lead, all exploded.

Then all held their breath as Pinturault, Germany’s Felix Neureuther, Italy’s Roberto Nani and Hirscher came down the hill. When Hirscher finished up 0.45 seconds off the pace, the party began.

“I definitely haven’t been skiing as well this year as I have in years past. Getting my butt handed to me by this guy all the time wasn’t that enjoyable,” Ligety said in the post-race press conference, indicating Hirscher sitting next to him. “It’s nice to be able to go home and hit the reset button. It’s nice to get that feeling back … a little of my old self.”

In retrospect, it was the beginning of the end for Ligety. The Park City, Utah, native won in Soelden, Austria, in October 2015 for what remains his last win. Injuries and Father Time have plagued him since.

Nonetheless, Ligety is one of the legends of the course with Hermann Maier, Aksel Lund Svindal and Hirscher. Our bet is that whenever Ligety retires, Birds of Prey, as it did with Miller and Daron Rahlves, will name a portion of the course for him. We nominate “Ligety’s Left.”

Yes, American ski-racing fans like what they see at the 2015 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)

The home fans didn’t have to wait long to see another American gold medal. The very next day was women’s slalom.

Of course, Mikaela Shiffrin grew up here, but the World Cup calendar continuously conspired to keep her from racing on home snow. After the traditional stops in Soelden and Levi, Finland, the women’s tour headed to Aspen or Killington, Vermont for tech events, followed by a stop for speed in Lake Louis, Alberta.

The one exception was Thanksgiving 2013, when the women came to Beaver Creek for the test events for the world championships. At the ripe old age of 18, Shiffrin finished second in that giant slalom. While Sweden’s Jessica Lindell-Vikarby ended up winning that day, we all knew we had seen something special.

Shiffrin entered 2015 Worlds a much more mature 19, and handled the spotlight with aplomb. Having already taken eighth in GS earlier in the championships, Shiffrin got to business.

She led by 0.45 seconds over Sweden’s Frida Hansdotter, and then took some time out between runs. The big-screen television at the base showed shots of Shiffrin not far from the start house. Shiffrin was lying back on her parka with her hands behind her neck while wearing sunglasses.

To those watching, Shiffrin just looked too cool for school. (What me, worry?) In reality, she was trying to take a nap, which begs the question what sort of person is calm enough to take a nap in the middle of one of the most important days of his or her life?

That added to the legend as did Shiffrin’s second run. She slammed the door on the field, crossing the finish line with no reaction.

“I put a ton of energy out there, especially on that last third of the course, making sure every turn was spot on,” Shiffrin said. “I had no energy in the finish. It’s always a little awkward. I feel like all the best racers had an epic finish celebration. Ted (Ligety) throws his ski. Lindsey (Vonn) falls on the ground. (Tina) Maze puts her finger in the air. How about if I do something epic? Then I get to the finish, and I’m like, ‘Hi. I’m kind of a dork.’ I don’t want to show that side of myself. I’m not that great at showing my emotions. Guess I have to work on that.”

The 2015 worlds slalom was the second of four straight golds in the discipline for Shiffrin at the biennial competition. She will be going for a five-peat in February in Cortina, Italy.

Letter: Thankful for Avon City Market pharmacist

I am writing to invite everyone to stop by Avon City Market and introduce yourself to Kedar Gurjar, the pharmacist. I had two vaccinations administered by him recently and I was extremely impressed with his fantastic technique. It didn’t hurt at all! As we chatted I also noticed his calm demeanor and pleasant personality. When I told my wife, Katie, about it she stopped by to let him know how impressed I was and to ask his name, something I failed to do. He told her that he had just moved here from the big city and how excited he is to be part of a community like ours. It was a reminder of how back in the ’70s, when I first moved here, everyone knew everyone by their name, and how important that is for any community of like minded people. In a time of increasing isolation and lack of human connection, I encourage everyone who reads this to make the effort to greet everyone that works the front lines in our wonderful valley, from the grocery store to the post office, by their name. I am looking forward to my next vaccination that will allow me to shake everyone’s hand without fear, especially Kedar’s.

Philip Horsman


Letter: Pass the Core Act now

We are extremely thankful the CORE Act was considered in a recent Senate Energy and Natural Resources hearing; an incredibly positive step for the bill and for the special places in Colorado that the CORE Act will protect. By safeguarding 400,000 acres of public lands including 73,000 acres of new wilderness and 80,000 acres of recreation and conservation management areas, passage of the act would expand our world-acclaimed outdoor recreation attractions, boost local economies and pay tribute to our nation’s veterans in one fell swoop. The CORE Act has been passed by the House twice, and the hearing makes inclusion in the FY 2021 sure-to-be-passed National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) much more probable.

Safeguarded places include permanent protections for nearly 100,000 acres of wilderness, recreation and conservation areas in the White River National Forest along Colorado’s Continental Divide; the San Juan Mountains, Thompson Divide; Curecanti National Recreation Area; and Camp Hale, where the famed World War II 10th Mountain Division soldiers trained. These protections have been discussed and agreed upon for many years by a broad array of stakeholder groups including local governments, businesses, recreationists, sportsmen and conservationists.

There are many Colorado businesses like ours that rely on a healthy outdoor recreation and tourism economy and whose livelihoods are directly linked to protecting public lands as the CORE Act will. Economics aside, we believe that our wild and beautiful places must be protected and preserved, so future generations can enjoy them as we have.

We welcome Sen. Cory Gardner’s support for the CORE Act’s passage as a memorable term-ending conservation present to Coloradans. Most importantly, we thank Senator Michael Bennet, Congressman Joe Neguse, and Congresswoman Diana DeGette for introducing the CORE Act and for their relentless pursuit to make it a reality.

Patrick Webber, co-founder at Fourpoints Bar


Norton: Showing gratitude for the game-changers of life

Before we completely turn the page and allow last week’s Thanksgiving holiday pass us by, I wanted to take a moment to thank every one of you who have done your very best to truly focus on what you have been most grateful for this past year. You may not think it matters, but I can assure you that your sense of gratitude and appreciation never goes unnoticed.

And as we roll into the new year, I firmly believe that it is our gratitude and appreciation for the three C’s that may still be ahead of us — challenges, chaos and confusion — that will make the difference. I know that these don’t sound like “Winning Words,” but they are, and let me explain and why I see them as game-changers.

If we had to list all the challenges or difficulties that we have witnessed or that we are experiencing personally, we would have a very lengthy list. Collectively the list would seem insurmountable. So why would I insinuate that a challenge is something we should be grateful for? It’s because in every challenge we see someone who emerges and goes out of their way to help someone else. We see people sharing God’s love, pursuing God’s will, doing God’s work, and doing it for all of God’s people. And that is a gratitude game-changer right there.

There is no doubt that we are in for more uncertainty in the coming months and the word “challenging” may wind up being an understatement. However, if we look at the word “challenge” differently, challenging ourselves to maintain our attitude of gratitude, this alone will go a long way toward changing the game and keeping us active in the game.

Now how can we possibly use chaos to help us get through what may be a difficult time? Well for some of us, we need the energy that only chaos can provide. We become alive, creative, and once we see the problem in front of us, we become inspired to find the solution. Chaos helps some of us to thrive instead of hide. While some need to feel the comfort and stability of normalcy, others of us contribute our greatest good to the situation when we are stimulated by the chaos, in order to see through the chaos. For me, I am super grateful for those around me who respond, even bringing a sense of calm, amidst the chaos.

Confusion is different than chaos. And confusion is good because it is when we are knocked off balance that we seem to learn the most. In a state of confusion, we try and sort things out, solve problems and come up with elegant solutions. As we know that we cannot recognize light without the contrast of dark, similarly we cannot know what clarity is without feeling what it is to be confused. It’s in that a-ha moment, as things become abundantly clear, that we realize just how grateful we are for our initial confusion. And any type of personal growth is always a game-changer.

Typically on Thanksgiving and around the holidays, we think of the traditional responses that we give when asked what we are grateful for. We offer up things like our family, friends, health and other blessings. And those are still wonderful responses. May we all be thankful for our health and the people in our lives as well. And maybe this year we can give a nod and express gratitude for the challenges, chaos and confusion surrounding us as we see each one as a game changer that will help us to learn, grow and come together in whatever is headed our way.

How about you? How is your attitude of gratitude these days? Have you learned how to be grateful for the unexpected game-changers of life? I would love to hear your story at mnorton@tramazing.com and when we can find the elegant solutions in the challenges, the chaos, and the confusion, it really will be a better than good week.

Michael Norton is the grateful CEO of Tramazing.com, a personal and professional coach, and a consultant, trainer, encourager, and motivator to businesses of all sizes.

Norton: Realize that you are amazing and watch what happens next

Here we are, weeks out from ringing in another new year. Many of us can’t wait to put 2020 in the rearview mirror. These last 11 months are difficult to describe in one word, it’s even hard to describe them in just a few words without finding something negative, sad or troubling to say, so yes, the rearview mirror analogy could be an excellent way to try and put it all behind us. However, it’s only a good strategy if we make sure that we can shift our focus to what is in front of us, not only what’s behind us.

“See, when you drive home today, you’ve got a big windshield on the front of your car. And you’ve got a little bitty rearview mirror. And the reason the windshield is so large and the rearview mirror is so small is because what’s happened in your past is not near as important as what’s in your future,” said Joel Osteen, American pastor.

Success is a funny thing as we can see others succeeding where we feel like we have not. Whatever they touch turns to gold. They simply have a knack for being successful at whatever they endeavor to do. Even in a difficult COVID year, they were still able to meet with success. What’s the difference? The difference is in the way we see ourselves.

It can become very easy to only see or recognize the mistakes we have made or the unfortunate events that have happened around us. And the weight of carrying those makes it impossible to see ourselves succeeding at anything. The rearview mirror becomes our lens of failure even though that big windshield of opportunity is right there in front of us. And as Zig Ziglar said, “Failure is an event and not a person. Yesterday really did end last night.” Here’s the thing, I do not know you, but I do know that you are amazing and not a failure. I know this because someone who only sees themselves as failing would have already given up and stopped reading this column two paragraphs ago.

The biggest life-changing lesson for me happened when someone encouraged me to see myself differently. I had a mentor who taught me to take an inventory of my talents and skills which was helpful. But the better exercise was to make an honest assessment of the gaps in my talents and skills so that I could take the time and make the effort to improve my situation. It’s fair to say that it was humbling to admit my shortcomings, but it was also freeing and inspiring. Recognizing that the only difference in looking in the rearview mirror instead of the massive windshield in front of me, was the belief in myself.

The way we see ourselves is the way we will see our future. If the past feels like a boat anchor, we need to cut the chain. Because the way we see our past is not nearly as important as the way we see our future. And our future begins with the way we see and believe in ourselves. And we are amazing.

With four weeks to go in the year, this is an excellent time to take an inventory of who we are and our capacity for accomplishment. It’s a fantastic time to look through the windshield, understanding that it is more about what happens next than what has happened in the past. As a matter of fact, the University of Clemson Football coach, Dabo Swinney, says it this way, “No matter what’s behind us in the rearview mirror, it’s always about what’s next.”

How about you? What’s your role in what happens next? Are you looking at what has happened, or are you focused on what can happen? And I may not know you personally, but I do know that you are amazing and I would love to hear your story at mnorton@tramazing.com. Just remember that when we can believe in ourselves and our role in what happens next, it really will be a better than good week.

Michael Norton is the grateful CEO of Tramazing.com, a personal and professional coach, and a consultant, trainer, encourager, and motivator to businesses of all sizes.

Van Ens: Treat refugees decently

A higher ethic exists above orderly implementing immigration laws. President-elect Joe Biden aligns his moral backbone with Winston Churchill and Jesus in The Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7). All three leaders advocated adopting a humanitarian ethic that replaces law and order regulations.

Biden vowed on the first day of his presidency to change previous violations of immigrant children’s human rights. He does not view prior immigration laws in static terms — seeing laws as they were and assuming “it’s what it is.”

Using dynamic thinking as his forte, Biden will appoint a task force to find the parents of 545 refugee children who were separated three years ago because of President Donald Trump’s Zero Tolerance Policy. NBC News recently reported the number of lost children at 666.

The Trump Administration kept sloppy records of these young children’s separation from parents deported to their homelands. There is a strong possibility records cannot be reconstructed. Then these immigrant children will never be reunited with their parents, a result of Trump’s cruel policy. Such barbaric rules contradict the Christmas message that respect for the infant Jesus confers dignity on every child, even those defenseless, helpless deprived of political power.

Prime Minister Winston Churchill advocated using a controversial humanitarian ethic to protect Norwegians at the beginning of World War II. He declared the British military should mine with explosives Norway’s port of Narvik to protect Norwegians’ “humanity,” from Hitler’s ruthless domination. Many Norwegian leaders demanded Churchill shut-up and respect Norway’s sovereignty, based on the principle of international law and order.

As war spread into Scandinavia, Norway shipped from Narvik rich iron-ore deposits Hitler used to manufacture armaments. Churchill wanted to cut this supply chain, which would cripple Germany’s arms production as ice jams clogged alternate shipping lanes.

The British Parliament sided with Norway’s “law and order” leaders who reprimanded Churchill to back off. He should respect Norway’s sovereignty, based on International law and order principles.

Churchill disagreed. He appealed to a higher moral code trumping mere legality. Guard Norwegians’ dignity from Nazi slavery, he demanded, even if such policy weakened “law and order” as pillars supporting Norway’s sovereignty. “Small nations must not tie our hands when we are fighting for their rights and freedom. The letter of the law must not in supreme emergency obstruct those who are charged with its protection and enforcement … Humanity, rather than legality, must be our guide,” Churchill asserted (Churchill: Walking with Destiny, Andrew Roberts, Viking, 2018, p. 479).

Today, Trump’s loyalists side with Churchill’s critics in 1939. They run aground any Ship of State that replace entrenched “law and order” with human dignity as the rudder steering political agendas.

Trump’s border policy favors existing immigration laws over refugees’ plight. He won the presidency in 2016 by vowing to crack down on illegal immigration, aimed, for instance, at a Guatemalan mother with her child seeking refuge in the United States. The president speaks of these immigrants as economic misfits who don’t make America great. He ridicules them as drifters and cheats who defy laws by sneaking through the U.S. southern border.

Using “law and order” as a defense is rooted in prior GOP policies. After a landslide 1972 presidential victory defending the Vietnam War, Richard Nixon castigated protesters as draft dodgers who defied U.S. law and order.

Republican commentator Peggy Noonan remembers Time magazine’s Lance Morrow describing the GOP’s “law and order” pro-war agenda in his October 1972 essay, “The Two Americas.”

“In Nixon’s America … there was ‘the sense of system.’ The free enterprise system, the law and order system, even the family unit system. They [the GOP] were protective of it, grateful to it. And the antonym to their idea of system wasn’t utopia; it was chaos. … They wanted evolution, not revolution” (The Wall Street Journal, “The Two Americas have Grown Much Fiercer,” March 30-31, 2019, p. 1-15).

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus got on the wrong side of the “law and order” religious establishment. Organized religion had calcified into proscribed rituals. If actions were not stipulated in religion manuals, you could not engage in them, warned “law and order” enthusiasts who despised Jesus.

“You have heard that it was said [in “law and order” religious rule books],” countered Jesus, “but I say to you….” (Matthew 5). He showed compassion toward destitute people, which pre-empted bloodless right rules.

Will the Biden/Churchill/Jesus humanitarian ethic prevail over “law and order” edicts against refugees and their children? Will the plight of desperate people who desire a better life prevail over broken immigration principles that aren’t working?

The Reverend Dr. Jack R. Van Ens is a Presbyterian minister who heads the nonprofit, tax exempt CREATIVE GROWTH Ministries, (www:thelivinghistory.com) which enhances Christian worship through dynamic storytelling and dramatic presentations that make God’s history come alive.

Suszynski: Knowing through imagination

During this time of year I get out early and ski for a few hours. The runs are quick, I can’t say as much for the lines, and my patience is also on a short fuse. When the winter really begins, I can escape into those parts of the mountain that I know are quiet, where the trees and the distant stream under the snow are the only living things speaking to me.

I catch myself in these moods, stomping around in my ski boots at the end of my couple hours, returning home to the winter quiet a little peeved and then I promptly snap out of it. And the next day, I try to do better. I get on the mountain, I stand in line, but instead of focusing on the covered-up faces of the people around me, I look up. My day often begins when I enter the Gondola One maze and shift my attention to Pepi’s Face, how the snow has such a lopsided relationship with the angle of the slope.

The day progresses when I finally enter the gondola. I look off to the left and see the distinct rabbit figure of Riva and then below as the frontside chutes either look inviting or a little worse for wear. I have observed these runs for a long time and it takes discipline to look anew.

When it comes to learning from people of the mountain, there is no better teacher than Nan Shepherd. Shepherd lived most of her life close to the Cairngorm Mountains in Scotland and toward the end of World War II, she wrote a slim, yet very wise book speaking to what she found in those mountains. This book, “The Living Mountain,” is special in its universality. She writes: “Well, I have discovered my mountain – its weathers, its airs and lights, its singing burns, its haunted dells, its pinnacles and tarns, its birds and flowers, its snow, its long blue distances.”

I am young, but I have spent significant time on Vail Mountain in the winter. There is something soothing about sliding upon beaten-down snow in the early season. As I carve turns on groomers, concentrating on each sweep as I drive my outside ski, I am also traveling a path that a stranger tread before me. Or perhaps, not even a stranger, it could be my neighbor, or a friend. Their tracks, I am also adding to, layering them. And these people who are skiing before me and after me, experiences separated by days or maybe even seconds, while our thoughts are certainly singular, there are some we share, too. Shephard makes a familiar observation of the cold: “… cold air smacks the back of the mouth, the lungs crackle … Frost stiffens the muscles of the chin …” Her words echo back to me as I breathe in that crisp sip.

In the early season, I like pushing myself in ways that I usually do not when the snow is good. How do I take different routes on a mountain I have been skiing my whole life when space is limited? Where can I find an unseen view of the Gore? Can I push my imagination and take a different run each time? Can I ski the same run five times and learn something new from each descent? Once I get to know the mountain in this way, “when I reach nowhere in particular, but have gone out merely to be with the mountain as one visits a friend with no intention but to be with him,” I think I get a sense of why Shepherd dedicated so much time to the Cairngorms.

“It is therefore when the body is keyed to its highest potential and controlled to a profound harmony deepening into something that resembles trance, that I discover most nearly what it is to be. I have walked out of the body and into the mountain,” Shepherd says.

I do my best skiing when I let go. When I focus on what I hear, what I touch, I can vibrate with that keyed frequency. In the early season, the abrupt transition from chalked snow to ice, the particular feeling of my neglected edges on that ice and the next day, the anchored speed of newly-tuned skis carrying me over those same rough patches with grace, these are the textures of December. All of those feelings require a sort of creativity, I think, and most definitely training. A sensitivity to being open to minute changes.

“Knowing another is endless. And I have discovered that man’s experience of them enlarges rock, flower and bird. The thing to be known grows with the knowing,” Shepherd says.

This morning, I will not go through the motions. I will hoist my skis on my shoulder and walk to the gondola, pass through the maze, try to smell the storm in the trees, layer on yet another slice of memory over the old, click into my bindings, ascertain whether chair 3 or 4 has the longer line, and then ski. And do it again, carve, want to do it better. Only knowing the mountain when she is at her best is not truly knowing her. Any kind of frustration often means I am not engaging my imagination.

Anna Suszynski is a staff editor at the Vail Daily. She can be reached at asuszynski@vaildaily.com. Follow her on Instagram at annasuszynski or on Twitter at anna_suszynski.