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Sacrifices on the Mountain – an Ode to Parenting

IMG 20190328 Copper Spring break Spaulding bowl2
Spaulding Bowl at Copper – Helen Olsson 

As parents, we often find ourselves doing crazy things for our children. But someday, those sacrifices will translate to epic skiing or riding with the family in Colorado Ski Country. 

My Cold Right Foot

I was skiing the vertiginous pitch Aspen Highlands’ Temerity, 1,690 vertical feet of 28-degree pitch, and every right-footer turn I took was a little less awesome than my left footers. Two weeks before, in the lodge at Winter Park, my son’s Booster Strap had broken. He’s a ski racer and for racers—or any skiers who want control and transmission of power from boot to the ski, which I think is really, probably everybody—Booster straps are key. So, his broke, and naturally, I kicked my boot up on a chair, like a horse ready to have its horseshoe replaced. He unscrewed the screw at the back and relieved me of my right strap.

At that moment, it struck me that as parents, we do the craziest things for our kids. We’d do anything. We’d donate a kidney if we had to. We’d take a bullet. In the grand scheme of sacrifices, losing a little control on my right footers wasn’t really that big a deal. Although, it also meant I didn’t have a boot heater battery on that right boot either, because of my Hotronic battery affixes to my Booster Strap. So I also had a cold right foot.  

A couple of weeks later, my son got a new strap and returned mine to me. But he’d lost the little rubber washer that protects the strap from the screw. That’s the thanks we get. (Shout-out to the helpful fella at Eldora’s tune shop for finding me a loose snowboard binding washer to sub in.)

Copper Skiing with fudgie (3)
Skiing with a giant Teddy Bear – As Promised – Helen Olsson 

And then there was that time I promised my daughter I would ski with a giant bear if she would just do one more year of ski team. I was so sure she would forget about the promise by the end of the season. She didn’t. So I packed Fudgie, a tan 3½ foot tall bear into my Kelty baby backpack carrier, and I skied a day at Copper Mountain. I looked like an idiot. But a promise is a promise.

Aspen Highlands Will 2020 2

Sometimes the thing we do for our kids is wearing a Day-Glo headband that says “Send it Jerry!” – Helen Olsson

That day at Aspen Highlands, on the side of the racecourse, my friend Will took off his helmet and donned a super dorky florescent headband that read “Send It Jerry.”

“What’s up with that?” I asked.

 “I promised my son I would wear it while I watched the race,” he told me. Seriously, I think our kids might be messing with us.

Will’s wife, Kim, told me about the time they hit a deer driving to Telluride, totaling the car. Their two kids were racing, and they didn’t want to miss it, so they convinced the tow truck driver to ferry them to Telluride. They would deal with the car later. A few years later, on the way to Crested Butte, they hit another deer—literally while talking about the Telluride deer incident. I think the deer might also be messing with us.

When my kids were small, I’d pull them and all their gear in a sled to get them to the bottom of the bunny slope at Copper. Packing the snacks, warming up tiny fingers, picking them up when they fell, over and over. Those days, the sacrifice was not being up in high alpine, in Spaulding Bowl or Resolution ripping.

My brother Pete told me about deciding to teach his two toddlers to ski—with his beginner wife in tow. “It was a nightmare. I’d have one on the magic carpet, and the other one would be crashing,” he said. “I was totally outnumbered.” And then his youngest pushed the big red emergency button on the magic carpet. “Because, you know, it was a big red button.”

Okay, some perspective. We make sacrifices so that our kids will fall in love with skiing and snowboarding–and so that they aren’t screen-timing it every minute. We still have both kidneys, and we haven’t (yet) had to take a bullet. These sacrifices are hardly monumental. And on top of it all, there has been a tremendous payoff. Now we can stand on top of Highlands Bowl with our teenagers and just try to keep up with them on the way down. We can hike Tucker Mountain at Copper, and they might even carry our skis for a spell. And, get this, after I drove four hours (just a few weeks ago) from Winter Park to Eldora and back in a day to drop my son at a ski practice—which He. Could. Not. Miss.—that child went out into the cold garage and tuned my skis. And that brought me joy.