John Russell's sports column appears Sundays in Steamboat Today. Contact him at 871-4209 or email jrussell@SteamboatToday.com.
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The passes are paid for, the skis are rented and the ski season is just around the corner.
A few more inches of snow on top of the slopes that surround our town and this opening day will be one to remember.
This season isn’t about remembering a single day under a clear blue mountain sky playing in Steamboat’s famous Champagne Powder.
No, this season will be added to the thousands of other memories I’ve been collecting since the first time I let my son go from somewhere near the top of the bunny slope at Howelsen Hill.
To tell the truth he was a little reluctant those first few times he slid down the slope, but there is no way I ever would blame him — he had just mastered walking a year or two earlier.
Still, he trusted me enough when I let him go, and he was comforted by the sight of his mother waiting to catch him in her arms at the bottom of the hill.
Getting my children on skis wasn’t always easy. There were way too many trips down Why Not, way too many trips down Tomahawk and way too many arguments about which trails we should take to the bottom of the hill.
By the time I finally had convinced my son to move on to the ski runs I preferred, his sister was ready to start skiing, and the whole learning process started over again.
My children always were too concerned about colors and shapes. Looking back maybe I was, too.
In the end, it didn’t matter where we skied as long as I got to ski with them.
These days I still drag my children to the ski slope on the weekends, but the question isn’t where we will ski. They want to know if dad still can keep up with them.
Luckily, I still can — at least most of the time.
I’m sure this season will be full of those memorable days, those special moments that I will carry when the day comes that I can’t keep up.
But I also know the clock is ticking. I know that my son, and my daughter, would rather head to the mountain with their friends.
Before I know it, they will be off to college, and the number of days that we get to share on the slopes will be limited to holidays and school breaks. If I’m lucky, they will come home, and they still will want to ski with their dad.
But until that day comes, I plan to keep buying passes, I plan to keep renting (or buying) skies and I plan to keep dragging my children to the ski hill once or twice per week.
I know I’m not alone in my journey. I know lots of other parents have skied through the same tracks before me, and there are plenty who will follow me once my run is over.
This journey is a fact of life in our town, and my biggest hope is that my children will develop a life-long love of skiing and they never will get too old to ski with their dad.
To reach John F. Russell, call 970-871-4209, email jrussell@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @Framp1966