wouldn't score well with the judges, but it didn't matter. It was
one of the best runs of my life and that was enough for me."
compete or not to compete? Just ask the butterflies or maybe just
drown them. As chronicled by Kenny Atkin
a lump in the bottom of my stomach and told myself that it's just
from the mass of beer consumed the night before. As I gathered my
gear, I grew more apprehensive. Would I get hurt? Would I take last?
I loaded the car.
better bring a spare set
in the stomach...definitely check!
cars in the lot had arrived from Colorado, Montana and California.
They had the unmistakable grime that comes from a long drive into
the wee hours of the morning. My friend Ryan and I hit the shack
to check in. I saw a few friends. Many of them came from Cottonwood
Canyon, like myself. Some I have never seen before.
now I feel as if the butterflies might well fly out of my throat.
I decide I have to do something to mellow out. So I grab one of
the beers we brought along for after the comp. The butterflies seemed
to wallow in the pool of Coors Light for a little while. But then
they simply dry their wings and they're at it again.
off the lift I am greeted by one of the judges and World Cup racer,
Lori Stahler. She says that we need to wear our bibs in order to
check out the course. Now I know what it must feel like to wear
crotchless panties over your head with your arms poking out the
about fifteen minutes skiing left and scouting the middle for hidden
features, then I realized that I needed to go check out skier's
right. The butterflies subsided for a few moments as I concentrated
on finding a line. Skier's right was a shorter line and not nearly
as direct. There were a few trees on top of a rocky face with good
snow down below. The rocky face and trees above it limited the accessibility
to much of the right side, but the potential for decent air was
in the front of the men's line up, I decided to run down to the
finish area and get rid of my backpack. I found a place to put my
pack and watched the last few women come into the finish area. The
competitors and spectators were yelling and cheering at every turn
and air. The only time the yelling stopped was when it turned into
a sympathetic "oohhh" after a crash. The positive camaraderie was
down for one final lift ride with a little more spring in my thighs
and a few more butterflies. The starter called my number and the
butterflies fluttered. The right side was still nice and soft, and
other than a back seat landing, I felt surprisingly good for the
first time of the day. At the same time, I wanted to vomit due to
the rush of the adrenaline and the lack of ability to breathe. But
I felt good about my run.
the rest of the men as they tore up the course. Great turns of all
shapes and sizes, big cliffs, small bumps, tree lines and a few
crashes. As more and more finishers joined the spectators they added
to the noise of the crowd which was now a roar. By the time the
men's runs had ended I had a bed to stay on in three other states.
The seriousness of the morning faded and now everyone was focused
on the scene and the vibe.
2: Sunday started with rain in the valley. I heard the sound of
coffee being ground and figured it must be time. I grabbed the phone
and dialed Brighton to check the conditions. Before I could finish
dialing, I heard Ryan yell, "six new inches!"
two was to separate the men from the boys. Everyone would ski off
Millicent Peak. This meant skiing an extra thousand feet of turns
on the steepest terrain Brighton has to offer. Spending a lot of
my time in-bounds, I wondered how far up the ridge I would make
it before I puked.
a low bib number and would go early. As my number got closer and
closer my skis dangled into the air more and more. My number came
up. The first turn almost became a disaster as the top of the fin
slid away with me on it. I managed to stay above most of the sloughs
and begin to make some turns. Then the lower snow peeled off and
I felt like a bull rider, but much less in control. I was able to
run it out and down onto the apron for some good turns in the deep
snow. It wouldn't score well with the judges, but it didn't matter.
It was one of the best runs of my life and that was enough for me.
the sun began to set behind the peak and visibility dimmed, the
competitors continued their runs. The weekend had taken its toll
on some. People that had made nothing but great turns all weekend
could be found in the back seat for a change. The last run was highlighted
by Tres, an 18 year old from Steamboat, punching a forty footer
off the ridge.
raffle started anew and beers were poured. Stories were swapped
and phone numbers were exchanged. The room became quiet when it
was announced that the scores were in. As the top four places in
the men's and women's divisions were announced, the crowd cheered
and yelled for the people we just met. Before yesterday, I had only
skied with one of the men in the top three. Now I had skied with
them all, shared stories, and was able to see their moment of triumph.
the lines I skied and would not trade my first run on Sunday for
the first place beer mug and check. Even though the beer mug would
have come in handy to drown the remaining butterflies. But I'm not
sure there's a mug big enough to drown the butterflies that pop
up every time I think about the rush I felt in that chute. The only
thing better than having skied that line was getting to the bottom
and hearing the praise of my peers.
that the best part of the weekend was skiing for myself and doing
it in a super positive atmosphere. Maybe I'll head to A-basin or
Berthoud Pass and see if I can improve on my score. Just thinking
about another comp causes the butterflies to stir. A trip to Colorado
to see some of my new friends sounds like just the thing to drown
them once more.
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