You know what the difference between 85 days on the hill and 100 is? It’s 15 days. Fifteen extra days over a season is 100 days, OK? There’s 4½ months in a season, that’s about 20 weeks. That means one extra scan per week, just one scan. You get a lunch lap. A Buckhorn bomber. *Kevin Costner half-in-the-bag voice* You get a Buckhorn bomber with blue skies. You get an extra spring weekend. Just one more gondola lap a week and you’re in the 100-day pin club.
That take on ski bum Crash Davis filling me in on the difference between 100 days and 85 is how I feel about the 2017-18 season. Despite a valiant effort, I’m going to come up just shy of the meaningless, yet incredibly important for some reason, mark of 100 days in snowpants and snowboard boots.
Like getting an extra hit a week, grabbing that all-important groomer run, low-vis death lap or early-season leg builder is about dedication. Sure, there’s luck involved, like avoiding an emergency family funeral or an extended season due to favorable snow conditions, but you can’t rely on smooth skiing and snowy skies.
To reach the 100-day club — and I realize this now — you have to get out when you’d rather sleep off a weekend full of doubles, booze or work. When your schedule only allows for snowboarding five days a week, maximum, there is no leeway. There is no spacing in between powder days. It’s five-straight days on then two days off.
You have to seize all available opportunities to cash in, kind of like the way Costner leaped at “Waterworld” and “The Postman.” He saw an opening to achieve his goal, which I assume was to get paid, and turned a middle- to above-average actor into a short-term movie star with a place in Aspen. (Obviously, he took a hit on those bombs but “Dances With Wolves,” “The Untouchables,” “Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves” and “Bull Durham” are iconic films.)
The thing I rue most is that I know I would’ve enjoyed turns on the days I missed. Even the awful days in the early season were somewhat rewarding because you felt superior to all your fickle friends who are bafflingly fine not navigating ungroomable runs at Highlands. I can’t think of a reason why anyone would want to sit out a day of low-light, wind-scoured ice traps.
As alternatives pop up — snow shoeing, snow bikes, alpine coasters — the reason to live or visit Aspen during the winter, as always, is to snowboard. I work weekends and nights and miss the barrage of excuses for fireworks, parties and free concerts. All that would bother me if I wasn’t busy lacing up my boots, monitoring the condition of my tune, constructing riding playlists, crafting sticker collages and spinning bucket laps. I’m writing this at 1:30 in the morning solely to be able to hunt for some corduroy for an hour tomorrow morning before work at 10 a.m.
What’s my routine going to become in a week or so when I’m not a seven-minute bus ride from world-class skiing? I’m perfectly happy having breakfast before easing into my snowpants at around noon like an old man into a hot bath. I’ll soon have to wear actual pants instead of basketball shorts and ski socks at work. The built-in excuses are gone. You know what kind of socks are shaped like ski socks? The best socks. F—, Becca.
The downfalls don’t stop with the reduction of basketball shorts time, either. Ski clothes are to day drinking what leotards are to high-wire acts. If you see a person drunk during the day but they’re in ski gear, you shrug it off. If you come across a person in street clothes walking across a high wire, you probably question their decision-making. In other words, I have to go back to embracing my inner delinquent.
I’ll have no problem with that, but the wait for another chance at 100 days begins April 16. Instead of marking successful ski days on my calendar in increasing order, I’ll be counting down until the snow flies with a plan in mind.
Now, I know what it takes to attain the 100-day pin and all its powers, even if it’s kind of a Dragon Scroll trick in that the pin doesn’t have real power but is an affirmation of something that was inside me all along.
Snowboarding is my favorite sport, activity, lifestyle, pastime — and despite my number of days being capped in the mid-80s — I’m going out like Crash: on my own terms.