Getting ready for an epic ski season |

Getting ready for an epic ski season

Ian Smith
Vail, CO Colorado

Why does my boss keep asking if I have health insurance?

Is it because he’s worried about me slipping on some ice, or getting in a car accident? Maybe, he’s concerned because I’m vertically-challenged.

No, can’t be. It’s probably because he’s depending on a native Iowan and relatively novice skier to cover anything and everything on the mountain this winter.

Here’s hoping I don’t fall flat on my face.

Realizing I needed a crash course before Vail Mountain opens on Friday, I started to accelerate my preparation. First up? The lingo.

Words like “epic” and “legendary” are now a part of my everyday vocabulary. Usually, I’m not even talking about stuffed crust pizza.

After two weeks of attempting to sound cool, I needed to test myself. I grabbed my credit card and headed to the Ski Swap. Trying to act like I knew what I was talking about, I asked the first person I found where the “versatile” skis were. “All-mountain?” he asked with a funny look.


Realizing I was in over my head, I deferred to the salesman. He found me a pair of really nice skis, only problem was the price tag. Unfortunately, a sports writer doesn’t exactly rake in the dough, so I settled on a lesser-priced set.

With my skis bought, the next step in my preparation was getting in shape to take on the mountain. I quickly decided the ski-conditioning classes were a little much. Instead, I continued a strict regiment of 12-ounce curls.

During one particularly strenuous training session, I needed some extra motivation. Luckily, a friend of mine owns “Ready Aim Fire” and “Flipside.” I popped in the DVDs and watched in awe. These guys are crazy ” crazy cool.

How in the heck am I supposed to duplicate what they do? When they weren’t skiing off cliffs, they were shredding (is that lingo right?) through powder.

The skiers in the video also had a “look.” You know, the look like they don’t care about anything but skiing. That’s why I decided to grow a beard. I figured if I couldn’t pull off their tricks, I can at least try and appear like I belong.

With my patchy scruff starting to fill out, the anticipation of actually getting up on the mountain is killing me. Not literally, but you get the metaphor. I’m pumped.

My skiing experience only includes trips to the rugged peaks of Minnesota. A place where the runs ” if you can even call them that ” last no more than a minute or two. From what people have told me, the “black diamonds” there are comparable to the bunny hill here.

But, hey, I did well enough at Afton Alps to think I could handle covering sports on the mountain.

At least my boss hopes so.

Sports Writer Ian Smith can be reached at 970-748-2935 or

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