Tom Ross: Skiing of the green
March 17, 2012
Steamboat Springs — I skied in a pair of green shorts Saturday. Not because I'm Irish — Ross is a Scottish surname and my heritage is more English — and not because I think it's particularly wise to ski with exposed extremities.
Mostly, I skied in green shorts because it's not often that one can comfortably ski in shorts on March 17. And this year, I could.
I should clarify that I did not ski in shorts on Mount Werner yesterday. Instead, I did a little tame skate skiing at the Steamboat Ski Touring Center. I learned many years ago that one could suffer consequences worse than sunburn from skiing in casual clothes on the big mountain.
I was smashing the slush bumps on the Dropout trail one sunny spring day in a short-sleeved shirt when I crashed and my bindings released. One of the skis windmilled, and the metal edge caught the inside of my left forearm.
When I felt a stinging sensation, I looked down and realized I had sliced a couple of thin layers of skin. It wasn't an injury that required medical attention, but I realized that I'd come close to lacerating my arm in an area where veins and arteries are close to the surface. Ever since, I've always worn at least a long-sleeved turtleneck while Alpine skiing in the spring sunshine.
Similarly, many skiers have learned the hard way that while it's fun to ski in shorts, a tumble in granular spring snow can result in something akin to the road rash that cyclists sometimes must endure.
Although it has been a little tough to witness the rapid changes in snow conditions this week, the cycling community isn't shedding too many tears. Bicycle shops in Steamboat were busy Friday, tuning up cycles and even renting bikes to vacationers. This weekend presents that tempting possibility of skiing, then riding one's cruiser bike down the Yampa River Core Trail to a favorite trout fishing spot.
I observed Friday that Soda Creek where it enters Little Toots Park already was running a little high and discolored from low-level runoff. The sight reminded me of June 2011, when the roaring creek burst over its steep banks and flowed through the park.
Barring a monumentally wet spring, things will be different this year and mountain bike trails will dry up early in the season.
Before I could go skiing in my shorts Saturday, I had to dig them out of a plastic storage tub and try them on just in case my waistline had expanded during the winter. The good news is that not only did they fit, but when I stuck my hand in the right pocket, it emerged with a crumpled $5 bill — just enough to buy a Scotsman a 40 ounce Mickey's Fine Malt Liquor on St. Paddy's Day.
Here's hoping you partied safely.
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