Greg Johnson: Beating the no snow blues |

Greg Johnson: Beating the no snow blues

Greg is an outdoor enthusiast and often enjoys exploring in and around Steamboat Springs for biking
John F. Russell

— The snow this winter season has not met expectations for many here in Steamboat. Powder days have been sparse, I haven’t had one yet. However, it doesn’t mean that I haven’t been enjoying my winter. I have adjusted to the conditions by trying out skiing and basking in the warmth of the sunshine that has descended upon the Yampa Valley.

I had been thinking about giving skiing a chance after five seasons of snowboarding in Steamboat. A new challenge. I haven’t been on skis since I was 15, on the occasional outings to the hills of the Midwest. A friend had offered skis and boots for me to use for a few years now and I finally decided to take him up on the offer in January.

My first foray skiing was during a night session. It has been a perfect way to use the night pass I upgraded to. I went with a friend who was a former ski instructor, recovering from an injury and wanted to take it slow. A great partner for a first time skier.

As I got up to the Christy Chair lift I was nervous. I didn’t want to be the one who falls getting on or off the lift. We got off the lift half way and I seamlessly glided off the chair. I listened to my friend’s instructions and made a few turns then stopped. I repeated this process most of the night as I got comfortable on skis.

After a few runs we went all the way to the top of the Christy lift. I don’t remember Sitz being so steep and intimidating. I repeated pressure on the downhill ski and turn back uphill in my head as I made my way down. I was terrified every time a group would rush by me as I slowly made my way down. It took me 20 minutes to get to the bottom.

My legs were jello after this run and my feet killed in the boots. Snowboard boots fit easily and are comfortable, but I’ve learned that ski boots are constant tweaking to find a comfort zone that is tolerable. My biggest concern was the ability to stop. I wasn’t worried about taking some falls, I just didn’t want to hurt someone else.

I built up strength, ability and confidence with night sessions and headed to Wally World one afternoon. The sun shined on as I joined other beginners down the mellow blue runs that the Sunshine Lift has to offer. I discovered that Quickdraw has less people on it more consistently than the other runs and it has become a favorite.

A great part about skiing is that I am seeing the mountain in new light. I skied runs I haven’t in years. Each time out on skis I try one or two different runs and enjoy the variety that the resort has to offer. It also seems like everyone I know in town got their start in Steamboat as a ski instructor and has some advice to give me on my new endeavor.

I haven’t totally stopped snowboarding. It’s still nice to have an easy day up on the mountain and I will be on my board this season if I do get a chance at a powder day. The new challenge of skiing though, has kept me from complaining of the lack of snow and lets me enjoy the great coverage and base the mountain still has.

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