A day of skiing involves overcoming a fear of heights on ski lifts, eating warm meals at the valley base and blacking out from the altitude.
Loveland ski area lies atop the continental divide a little over 50 miles west of Denver, Colorado. Covering 1,800 skiable acres, Loveland uses nine lifts and serves both a beginner valley and more advanced basin area.
While I had never been skiing before, I looked forward to learning. My dad and brothers have been skiing and snowboarding many times. How hard could it be?
My dad and brother left early for the black diamonds and I stayed at the base for lessons. The restaurant I sat in was overflowing with young girls and boys preparing for races that day. Steam rose from coffee mugs and people in ski boots hobbled around looking like aliens.
I started my group ski lesson at 10 a.m. A few minutes in, nausea crept up and overcame me. I felt dizzy. 30 seconds later I was a body length away, staring up at my group from the ground. I had blacked out. The instructor practically carried me to the ski patrol office. I sat on the bed, sure my ski adventure was over before it had started.
After being on oxygen for a few minutes, the ski patrol allowed me to walk upstairs to eat. Devastated I wouldn’t go skiing, I ate my chicken sandwich and pouted.
After a few hours of staring at others skiing, my brother and dad showed up. Dad persuaded me to try the bunny hill. After a few runs down the hill, I felt ready to tackle the beginner run. I joined an afternoon group lesson and flew down the hill. Exhilarated, I skied down the hill again and again.
Snowboarder Matthew Despain said, “I loved all the possibilities. The other [ski areas] I would go to you would go down one level the whole way, but if you go to Loveland you could go from green over to a blue; if it was easier you could go to a black diamond.”
James Anderson (name has been changed), an employee on the ski patrol, works as a ski patroller part-time but works full-time in Denver. He says working at Loveland gives him the chance to ski while he works and still get paid. He says there’s nothing better.