Sunday, January 29, 2012

Wearing the Bear


As I mentioned in my blog from New Year’s weekend, we recently went skiing at Bridger Bowl in Bozeman. On average, I ski once every two years. I’m always amazed my body can remember how to manage skis, poles, etcetera, especially when last week, after decades of riding horses, it suddenly forgot how to walk in spurs. Ouch.

Since I ski so infrequently I don’t have state of the art jackets and pants and stuff, but my sister has spares so I generally don’t look like a complete dork, and last spring she went to Utah on vacation and picked up a cozy new winter hat for me so I was set, except for the part where none of my family members wanted to be seen with me. Or as one of them put it, “Please try not to do anything memorable in that thing.”

My sister bought it down by Park City in serious skiing country, so I assumed this was what all the cool people were wearing these days. Turns out, not so much. Children pointed  People turned to take a second look. Yelled Nice hat! from ski lifts as I schussed down runs. There was no blending into the crowd while wearing the bear. All of which would have been fine if it weren’t for the Magic Carpet.

Bridger Bowl is very proud of this fancy schmancy new upgrade to their quad chair. It is basically a huge conveyor belt that eliminates the need to shuffle frantically forward when it’s your turn to catch the lift chair. You just step onto the belt and glide forward, the motion timed to deposit your butt on the chair as it swings around. The belt is cool. Getting to the belt, however…

You know how at the Olympics the downhill racers are behind those gates that swing open as the timer beeps? That’s what the gates to the Magic Carpet are like. You lean your thighs against them and they release you onto the belt in perfect coordination with the oncoming chair.

Here’s the twist: the gate swings forward. Which is where my ski poles usually are. Which meant when the little gate slapped open, it pinned my ski pole against the divider at the very moment the magic belt was dragging the rest of me forward. I think you can imagine how this ended. Sure glad those lift operators are quick on the kill switch.

The next time around, I was prepared. I stepped boldly into place at the gate, tucked my poles under my arms, racer-style…and nearly poked an eye out on the person behind me. He yelped and I turned to apologize, jerking my poles down from under his chin as the gate opened. My skis went forward, my pole got pinned and the entire lift ground to a halt. Again.

So I gave up on the quad and headed over to the Virginia City lift. 

Simple. No belts. No gates. Except Virginia City has center pole chairs and out of habit I turned to grab the outside arm like on the quad and the pole whacked me in the butt and knocked me off my skiis and yep, you know the rest. Another lift stopped dead.

I’m quite certain by the end of the afternoon every lift operator on the hill knew me by sight and was radioing ahead as I fumbled onto the lift.

“Heads up at the top. Bear lady on board.”   

This is why when you wear the bear, you shove it deep into your backpack before going in the lodge for a beer après ski. And make sure you’re also wearing goggles.



Cynthia D'Alba said...

BRAWAHAHAHAHA I'm sure that it was the BEAR HAT that made all the lift operators remember you, right?

I went skiing ONCE. That was enough. Spent the rest of the week sitting at the bottom of the runs, drinking wine and yelling at everyone I knew. Yeah. I was popular too. :)

Bill Cameron said...

Best. Hat. Ever.

midnightblooms said...

I agree the hat is great.

And having had trouble getting into one of those lifts sans skis, I admire anyone who does it with all those accouterments. :)

Kari Lynn Dell said...

Bill is prejudiced when it comes to the Bear. They're old friends.

And I failed to mention the best part of this whole debacle: my brother in law is actually a member of the Bridger Bowl ski patrol and yes, he was on duty the day of the Bear.