Ten (More) Types of Skiers and Riders You'll Meet at a Colorado Ski Area

Submitted by R. Scott Rappold on Wed, 03/21/2018 - 10:05

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The freestyle skier, as seen at Loveland Ski Area. Captured by Dustin Schaefer.

Earlier this winter, we had some fun at the expense of others with our story on the ten types of people you meet on a chairlift at a Colorado ski resort.

Of course, skiers and snowboarders come in all different shapes, sizes, ability levels and attitudes, and we could've done ten more. 

So we did.

Here are ten types of snow-riders you'll meet on the slopes of a Colorado ski resort. Maybe you are one of them? 

The telemark skier

Ever been skiing bumps and thought, "I wish there was a way this could be even rougher on the knees?" Well, there you have telemark skiing, a type of downhill that dates back to the 1860s. While alpine skiers' heels are firmly clipped into place, telemark turns are made by lifting the heel and bending the knee. To an alpine skier it might look awkward and painful, but the telemark skier knows their way is better and usually advertises such in bumper stickers, social media posts and, well, any time you ask them how their day is going. 

Catchphrase: "Free the heel!" 

The freestyle skier/ snowboarder

Riding on snow is all fun and good, but this snowboarder would rather be hurtling above the snow. Whether it's in the terrain park, off the cat track or among the cliffs above timberline, the freestyle snowboarder is there to catch air. It's all about "sending it," the bigger the air the better, and hopefully some soft snow awaits below for the landing. The freestyler boarder is rarely alone, because who would be there to get a cell phone picture of the jump? After all, pictures or it didn't happen. 

Catchphrase: "Yo did you get a good shot of me sending it?" 

The in-over-their-head skier/snowboarder

We all had to learn to ski the black diamonds at some point, but why do some people always seem to do it right below the chairlift, where everyone can see? This skier will often be crumpled in a heap, unable to keep going or even clip into the skis they lost because the DIN setting is at "beginner." The snowboarder may be ground to a halt because they didn't keep their speed up in the deep snow. Those on the lift will cheer the wipeout with laughter, which turns to pity when they're still foundering in the snow on the next lift ride. The best thing you can do is holler unsolicited advice from the lift that will only make them angry. It's the only way they'll learn. 

Catchphrase: "Can someone help me find my left ski?" 

The selfie stick snowboarder

What could make snowboarding a little more dangerous? If the rider is focusing on a camera on the end of a pole instead of where they're going. Some people like to enjoy a day riding, reminiscing with friends or tracking their runs, but for the selfie stick rider it's all about watching themselves snowboarding. Never mind that there are millions of these videos out there on the Internet, or that it never looks as epic as it felt. Their friends that can't be there are jealous and that's all that matters. 

Catchphrase: "This is going to look sick on YouTube."

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Want the best snow? Follow this jacket. Photo by Carl Frey courtesy of Winter Park Resort.

The off-duty ski patroller

Nobody knows the mountain like the off-duty ski patroller, because that's their job. You won't see them unless the snow is deep and fresh, because why spend a day off at the office unless there's powder? And when there is powder, the off-duty ski patroller isn't content to ski the close stuff. They'll hike and traverse and spend 20 minutes sniffing out snow that nobody else has even seen yet, much less skied on. They might only get five runs in, but that's okay, because it's about quality and not quantity. 

Catchphrase: "Come on. There's better snow this way. We just have to hike a bit.'"

The counter

Some people just like to go up and ski until they're hungry or cold and take a break, then ski until they're tired and call it a day. Not so with the counter, who comes up on a mission. Armed with a ski tracking phone app, the counter can tell you exactly how many miles and miles-per-hour they've achieved. They can then compare it with their friends at the bar and with other skiers on the mountain on their app. Because is it really a successful season if you've only skied 850 miles this winter? 

Catchphrase: "Stop for lunch? But we've only done 17 runs!" 

The pack

This isn't just one person, but a virtual mob on the mountain. Everyone they know is up there and they're determined to stay together, no matter how long they all have to wait for the one weak link to strap into their snowboard or how long everyone else in the lift maze has to wait behind them until their friends all catch up. At least one will probably have a backpack stereo so everyone gets to listen to the music they like. And yet, inexplicably, they all drove separately to the ski area. 

Catchphrase: "(Something something) epic .... (something something) sick!" 

The uphill skier

Because not everyone wants to wait for the lifts to open at 9 a.m. Since most ski areas are on public land, you're usually allowed to get up the hill under your own power before the lifts open, and the early-riser might have two or three runs under their belt before most people have had their coffee. Be it on alpine touring skis, telemark skis or a splitboard, they've spent a fortune on uphill gear and they're going to use it. They're disdainful of lift riding or too cheap to buy a lift ticket and are usually gone by 10 because the mountain gets too crowded.

Catchphrase: "Earn your turns!" 

The old skier on too-skinny skis

Ski technology has made amazing leaps and bounds in recent years, from fat skis for powder to super-responsive bindings. But this skier found a good pair of skinny twigs at the ski swap back in 1994 and there's no need to replace them. Never mind that it just snowed a foot and the skis are designed for racing on groomers. They work for going downhill and that's just fine with the old skier on too-skinny skis. After all, you should've seen the awkward bindings and skis they had when they were a kid!

Catchphrase: "Are those powder skis you have? How much did those cost?"

The drunk 

You've barely had time to ease back into the chairlift when the person next to you is pulling a Pabst Blue Ribbon can from their backpack. The drunk skier/snowboarder fills up on "liquid courage" no matter the hour, no matter how fast the chairlift, and always seems to have another in the backpack. It may be so cold the foam around the top of the can turns to ice, but the drunk still manages to suck it down, run after run, getting faster and more reckless with each lift ride.

Catchphrase: "We're almost at the top of the lift! Anyone want to help me with this beer?"

[Editor's note: don't be The Drunk]

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