Joanne Palmer's Life in the 'Boat column appears Wednesdays in the Steamboat Today. Email her at email@example.com
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Steamboat Springs "Rip it up! Rip it up, ladies!"
I stopped in my ski tracks and looked overhead to see a 20-something dude bopping to his headphones above me, laughing at my friend and me on a mogul run.
My friend didn't miss a beat. She placed her hand on her hips and shouted, "We are not bumpers. We are mothers of bumpers, and we are just trying to keep up!"
Being mocked from the chairlift is not one of life's more enjoyable experiences, which is why I avoid skiing underneath them. However, on this day, my friend and I had no choice - we were skiing with our bump-loving sons.
Just an hour earlier, as we drove over to the ski area, my son had issued his instructions to me for the day:
Do not do anything to embarrass me.
Ski 20 feet behind me at all times.
Geez! Wasn't it just yesterday he was wearing a wee-ski, and it took us more than an hour to ski down Why Not? And after 11 years of living with me, he should know the risk of an embarrassing moment is sky-high.
Still, if I had any hope of continuing to ski with my son, I had to do something. And so, I did what any self-respecting local would do.
I called Joe Kelly.
Joe has never met a mogul he didn't like. He's been skiing them for 28 years and knows everything there is to know about them. He has logged 70 days so far this season. Me? Two ski days under my boots. Joe was riding the Storm Peak chair when he took my call. "I'm doing a photo shoot," he said happily. "I'll meet you tomorrow on top of the gondola."
Joe was all business when he appeared.
"Take your skis off," he said.
He took my hands and pulled me farther forward in my ski boots than I'd ever been. "Squat," he commanded. "This is the position you need to be in for moguls. Now, get back up."
"I can't. My body doesn't do that anymore. I'm 54."
"You're old! Let's see you ski on the flats," he said.
I made a few turns down Vagabond, and he shook his head. "Don't use your poles much, do you?"
He patiently demonstrated the correct pole position and wrist-flicking technique. And then, we were at the top of Surprise. Although the snow was soft, I felt my throat constrict in the same way it does when I look at my son's math homework.
"I can't do this," I whined.
Coach Kelly didn't buy it. "Get down. Squat. Lean forward. Let the mogul come to you."
What if the mogul comes and takes me right to the emergency room? This was my thought as I watched the mogul-meister bop effortlessly down the first section of Surprise.
I lurched down, arms windmilling wildly. Joe didn't say much. He just repeated his instructions, and I made another attempt. By the end of the run, I think I'd succeeded in just one thing - planting a pole on top of the mogul.
We boarded the Storm Peak chair. As I reached for the bar, Joe gave me a horrified look. "You have got to be kidding. You are such a gaper."
"Gaper" is not a compliment. "Gaper" is local slang for a tourist who has a gap between their goggles and their helmet.
I'm not a gaper. Just the proud, middle-aged mother of a bumper.