One for the books: Colorado Mountain College student balances skiing, class
April 13, 2014
Steamboat Springs — Brett Somen can't make it across Gondola Square without seeing five people he knows, and that's before he even makes it into the gondola building, where the lift operators know him and often greet him by name, as well.
That's one of the perks of skiing every day, a task Somen, 22, didn't set out to accomplish this year, and one he, in fact, didn't accomplish.
He missed a day, one day, after a St. Patrick's Day celebration that went on a little too long — at least, that's how it looked in the light of the following day.
But every other day, Somen hit the slopes, and what separates him from many who accomplish a similar feat in Steamboat Springs is, he did it while maintaining a 3.5 GPA at Colorado Mountain College and never missing a class.
Somen was optimistic Sunday as he strode into the gondola building. A persistent precipitation hovered between rain and snow as locals made their ritualistic trip to Steamboat Ski Area for their final lift-assisted runs of the season.
"It's going to be a good day of skiing," he said.
Indeed it was: wet but good, a strong final day for a deep season.
Sunday made Day No. 119 on Mount Werner.
That's not quite every day, of course. The ski area opened Nov. 27 and was open for 138 days this winter.
He added in 30 more days skiing elsewhere, including Arapahoe Basin, Vail for a week when his father visited from New Hampshire and a few days with friends on Buffalo Pass.
At 149, it does all add up a day short, however. He was hoping for 150, so whether it takes a hike or a road trip, he has one more to go.
What's made the task difficult is school. Somen came to Steamboat Springs from New Hampshire three years ago, attracted to Colorado Mountain College by Steamboat Ski Area. He spent his first two years at the school finishing an associate degree in ski and snowboard business.
He decided he wasn't finished with Steamboat — "I want to stay as long as possible," he said Sunday on a lift — so he dove into CMC's bachelor's degree sustainability program.
His first years in town, he skied whenever he could. This winter, he wanted to do more, so he made a point of working his 14 spring credit hours around a potential skiing schedule.
Sometimes, he has company. Other times, he doesn't.
"I tried to get some buddies to come out today," he said Sunday. "They said they had homework. That's why you get it done early."
The one thing missing was that March day, the single hole in his "every day" attempt. He considered it, of course. One scan of the pass and a trip down Preview would have been enough to keep a streak alive.
Skiing every day wasn't ever about the streak, though.
"I don't even think of it that way," he said. "I just ski because that's what I love to do. I don't really think about a streak. I just think, 'Let's go ski for a couple of hours and see how it is today.'"
Day after day in a 400-plus-inch season, it proved pretty darn good.
The snow came down hard Sunday, piling up on chairlifts and leading to those powder day trademark whoops that ring through the trees. A large crowd gathered at the base of the ski mountain to celebrate with the Splashdown Pond Skim competition and a concert, but up high, Somen opted to keep skiing.
Of course he did.
"It's been a great season," he said. "We've gotten a lot of snow. It's been really enjoyable."