Joel Reichenberger: Tumbling into ski season |

Joel Reichenberger: Tumbling into ski season

Joel Reichenberger

Thoughts from a sports-filled weekend and my first ski trip of the winter:

Bad news, Smartwool. There was no mistaking the fact as I popped off my ski boots last weekend in the Copper Mountain parking lot after a day of skiing. The new super socks I purchased during this off-season smell just as bad as my old ones. They were warm and comfortable, if that makes you feel any better.

Bad news, well, me. I appear to have forgotten how to get on a chair lift – a rather unfortunate happening, considering my plans for the next five months.

The only time I’d ever caused a chair lift to stop was three years ago when I was trying to help six new-to-snow friends learn the ropes. I forgot in my lessons to include some pretty key first steps, and all seven of us ended up in a pile at the end of the Snowflake chairlift at Breckenridge.

My almost-spotless record was destroyed last weekend. Only halfway paying attention and fuming at the women who tried to cut in front of me in line, I didn’t realize it was my turn to get on the lift until it was almost too late.

Well, it probably was too late. I pushed out onto the carpet just as the chair swung around behind me. I got caught on the wrong end. I desperately tried to scramble to my appropriate seat, but wasn’t fast enough. One by one, the three people waiting in line crashed into me. I finally made it, and we all settled in, but the lift had already stopped.

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That was nothing compared to my fall that afternoon. Pushing onto the carpet, I just tipped over. No explanation. Hadn’t been drinking. Hadn’t been pushed. Wasn’t rushed. Just flopped.

The chair swung around again before I could fight my way back to my feet, and this time the liftie wasn’t fast enough. It started to push me while I struggled to get free and slid me along on the carpet, entirely devoid of snow. Finally, I lay flat on my back and came upon knowledge that hopefully will never come in handy: I can fit entirely underneath a chair on a chairlift.

They finally stopped it, and I managed to crawl out, load up and head to the top.

Those two incidents, followed by a slip and another fall on the ice on my way back to my car – don’t worry, my laptop broke my fall – left me dazed and confused for the rest of the day.

Good new, skiers. There was one run open at Copper, it was long but far from the disaster I expected. Once I managed to get on the lift – long early morning lines were as big of a problem as my lack of coordination – things were fantastic. There was just enough fresh snow to keep things from being ridiculous, and the skiing and day was good enough to make my mouth really water for the Steamboat Ski Area’s opening this week.