Steamboat Springs After spending a full day snowboarding down the slopes of Mount Werner, David Hunter made a comment Friday that may have been the biggest understatement uttered in Steamboat Springs all day.
"There aren't many blind snowboarders," he said.
Hunter, who became blind when he was 12 years old, didn't learn how to snowboard until he was 33. He now rides down some of Steamboat's intermediate slopes with little difficulty, unless there are too many bumps.
"When you can't see the bumps, it makes it kind of difficult," Hunter said.
Like many snowboarders, Hunter lives for fresh powder, which he got a taste of when he came to Steamboat for the first time in 10 years this December.
"It was paradise. I had never seen anything like that before," he said.
The Nashville, Tenn., native spent a full season here about 10 years ago but returned this week to enjoy the snow and to work on his turns. If all goes well, he said, he may be doing jumps soon. He has ambitions to one day pull 360s and 540s, tricks he considers not particularly difficult.
Hunter learned to ski while he was in college in Tennessee but didn't snowboard until he went to Aspen about three years ago. Now he is hoping to make an appearance at the 2002 Olympics in some sort of a demonstration or exhibition.
"I'm a dreamer," he said. "I set big goals for myself and try to meet them. If I don't, that's cool. If I do, that's cool, too."
Hunter said he snowboards with friends, often holding another person's hand while they both ride down. He skied down slopes such as High Noon and Flint Lock on Friday.
But it wasn't enough that Hunter skied thousands of vertical feet Friday later that afternoon, he was performing spins on the ice at Howelsen Ice Arena.
On skates, he can do small jumps and spins, though he wants to learn to perform bigger jumps soon.
Hunter skated around the ice with Steamboat resident Karen Post Friday, holding her right hand in his left as they skated to Bob Dylan's "Rainy Day Women." With his right hand he steadied himself, following Post's lead as they made each turn.
Rosemary Post, Karen's mother, looked on as her daughter accompanied Hunter on his loops around the rink. The Posts met Hunter when they found him stranded in the Denver airport and helped him get a ride to Steamboat.
After the song had ended, he reached down to his braille watch, allowing Post's daughter to run her fingers against it. The watch also has hands on it.
As the group left the rink, Hunter made sure to hold the door for the people behind him and offered some advice to aspiring snowboarders.
"Relax, be flexible," he said. "Just kind of go with it."