February 8, 2020

Weekend Recap: Superbowl Sunday in Vail

This weekend wasn’t quite as restful as it probably should have been – but I packed a lot into another weekend in the mountains!

I got home from Atlanta late on Thursday night, and tried to pack up a bit so I’d have an easier time getting out on Friday morning. On Friday, I took a few calls from home, then a few from the road as I drove out to Minturn, stopping to grab a sandwich on the way. I finally got to my house around 2:30pm (in the middle of another call), and then spent the rest of the afternoon / evening talking to the one of the partners I’m working with and discussing a big contract I’m trying to write up. I didn’t make quite as much progress as I wanted on it Friday night, but Saturday morning I woke up early to spend a few hours knocking it out (along with some other work) before it was time to go skiing.

I was super excited for my day ahead. Remember how my friend Blake came to visit Colorado last weekend? She and her family were still in town… and while Blake suffered an injury the week before and couldn’t ski, her dad Michael had hired a private instructor for the day and I was going to ski with the two of them! I picked up Michael at his hotel, the Grand Hyatt, and we headed over to Golden Peak to meet Scott, our instructor.

The Grand Hyatt has a vending machine of champagne in the lobby! Too funny.

Michael had been skiing with Scott every day this past week, and he was really excited to introduce me. Scott ended up being an awesome teacher – he showed us the fastest way up to the Back Bowls (Riva Bahn Express -> Highline Express -> Sourdough), and then dove right into working with Michael and I on our stances.

I got the most benefit from Scott’s help with my pole technique – which, before Saturday, was basically nonexistent. Yes, I put my poles out for balance, but I pretty much never actually plant them into the ground unless I’m on a catwalk trying to get a little more push / momentum to move forward. After a lot of practice, I got the hang of pole planting on moguls and pushing uphill to help my body quickly whip around the mogul. I didn’t actually find that pole planting helped me turn all that much better. However, when I got in the habit of using my pole plants to signal (to myself) that I was going to turn, it helped my body get into a swimming-like rhythm, which broke my terrible lazy habit of cruising across a bunch of moguls before skiing down. I loved this!

I had a blast skiing all day with Scott and Michael – and the time flew by. We took a quick break for tea / hot cocoa at noon, and then did a few runs over on Highline Express, the only part of Vail I’ve never really skied before. We stuck to Blue Ox and Roger’s Run, but while on the lift, I was eyeing Highline (a long, steep, big bump run) for a future visit… it looked so fun!

We made our way back to the main part of the mountain, and then headed up for barbecue lunch at Wildwood Smokehouse at the top of Game Creek and Wildwood. I didn’t want to eat too much food, as I knew we had an early dinner reservation, but couldn’t resist a pulled pork sandwich with waffle fries and mac & cheese… and it was all delicious! Wildwood’s barbecue sauces, in particular, are awesome, and I used them liberally. This is one of the best on-mountain lunches at Vail, for sure.

After lunch, we skied over to the Pride area on the edge of the mountain so that Michael could take the Cascade trail back to his hotel, then Scott and I traversed back over to Golden Eagle, where I had parked my car. On our way back, we made it to the lifts just in time for one final ride up – and after we got to the top, we stopped for a little while so everyone had gone before us, and we had the mountain to ourselves. Glorious! I wanted to do something really challenging as our last run, and we debated between Prima (double black moguls) or Riva Glades (single black moguls in tight trees), but I left it up to Scott and he chose the latter. I was glad he did!

I’ve done Riva Glades twice before, but always found intimidating when it’s not a powder day, because of how big the bumps are and how tight the trees are. But I seem to have gotten much better since last year, because it really wasn’t that bad! I had a few nervous moments where I stopped and didn’t know which way to go (and was totally embarrassed as Scott stood downhill waiting for me). But whereas I’ve had lots of those “oh s***” moments when I’ve gone down this before, this time I had just a few. And with Scott waiting for me, I felt compelled to screw up my courage and just go for it. Turns out, it was more of a confidence issue than anything else – once I forced myself to stop pausing / freaking out and just start skiing again, I had no problem turning where I needed to. I’m really proud how much better I’ve gotten as a skier in just the last year and a half!

We finished skiing down to the base on Tourist’s Trap, and I got to use a “standing tuck” position Scott taught me on the catwalk, which helped a lot with keeping my speed. This was a huge takeaway from the day, and I’m so grateful for it! I said goodbye to Scott at the base, exchanging numbers so that we could get together and ski big bumps another time, since that’s his favorite type of terrain too. I was excited for our next day out together! But now I needed to head home and quickly get ready for dinner… sneaking in a 10 minute Peloton core workout so that I could keep up my streak 😉

At 5:30pm, I met up with Blake, Michael, and the rest of their family at Ti Amo, an Italian restaurant that I soon learned was only five minutes away from my house. It was located in a nondescript strip mall, but Blake assured us that it had gotten great reviews. And the food didn’t disappoint! If you go there yourself, I would just warn that the spice level tends to be a little bit high, so you’ll want to keep that in mind when ordering. It was wonderful to get some time with Blake’s mom and daughter, neither of whom I had seen in years; I was so grateful to get to spend time with them both weekends they were visiting Vail, and look forward to them coming back again at Christmas!

Sunday morning, I was on my own to ski in the morning… and I wanted to make the most of it by tackling some of my favorite Vail terrain that I hadn’t gotten to the day before. I headed up the mountain as fast as I could to Sundown Bowl, and then spent the next two hours doing run after run on Forever, one of my favorite runs at Vail. This run is really long, but stays pretty much right under the High Noon lift line for the first half, so it’s a fairly direct way to the bottom. Meanwhile, the views of the Vail valley are incredible, and I found myself singing the Dear Evan Hansen song, Forever, as I skied.

“All we see is sky for forever… let the world pass by for forever…”

I was so blissfully happy singing that while skiing down, and I had it almost all to myself, too! I was amazed that there were literally no lift lines at the bottom, despite what a perfect day it was. The snow was glorious, but almost more importantly to me, the blue blue sky was phenomenally beautiful, and it just made me so happy.

Meanwhile, I was getting to practice the mogul pole technique I had worked on the day before, and found it made me a much smoother and more fluid skier to use it. Where it used to be a challenge for me to go from top to bottom of Forever without a break (and usually took me 10-12 minutes per run), on Sunday was averaging 7-8 minutes per run. While it was definitely a leg workout that had my legs and lungs burning, it also felt fantastic and I felt strong!

I ended up doing ten runs in a row of this trail (though I took slightly different lines each time), and it was so warm out that I had my jacket open and my mittens off… something that never happens for me on the mountain. As a bonus, that also made it easier for me to take my phone out on the lift, and soon enough, my friend Sara was texting me that she was approaching Vail to ski with me. We agreed to meet at the bottom of Gondola One, and I headed down the front side of the mountain.

After my ten runs on Forever, I also popped over to “Wow” right next to it for a final run in Sundown Bowl. Wow, indeed!

On the way down the front side, I took a different path than usual – and decided to give Prima a try. This was the double black mogul run I had skipped the day before with Scott, but I was feeling bold. Well, good thing – this almost immediately became my favorite run at Vail! Big beautiful bumps, a long steep run that made it totally worthwhile, and not a soul on the trail.

“All we see is light… as the sun burns bright…”

I met Sara at the bottom to catch the gondola back up, and we headed for the intermediate runs over on Northwoods chair. This area was my absolute favorite when I first started coming to Vail, and I loved getting to introduce Sara to it! It was really fun to have a friend to chat and catch up with on the lift, and toward the end of the day, we realized we could also split up a bit at the beginning of the run, with me taking First Step (a single black mogul run) and Sara taking North Star (groomed single black), then meeting and skiing Gandy Dancer (groomed single black) together to the bottom. Normally I try to always stick with my friends when we ski, but Sara was the perfect ski buddy in making it easy to separate and then find each other! What a perfect day – a little of my favorite terrain, a little time with friends, and a full day under the Colorado sunshine.

By 3pm, Sara and I finally got tired and headed back to my house. We didn’t have a lot of time to get ready before we needed to head over to The Rose, where we were meeting my friends Kirk and Heather for the Superbowl. I thought we’d have just enough time for both of us to shower and get dressed, But I was also hoping to sneak in a ten minute Peloton core workout to keep up my streak one more day. However, it was not meant to be!

I was just about to start my workout when Sara came out of the bathroom to tell me she was having trouble with the hot water. Turns out, my roommates had showered right before we got home, and that meant I had inadvertently used up the rest of the hot water! I felt like a terribly selfish host for going first 🙁 Then, while Sara was attempting to blow dry her hair, a fuse blew, and I realized I had no idea where the fuse box was to fix it! I spent fifteen minutes looking everywhere inside and out, before I finally found it on the back of my house, in a completely different place than the cable box I knew was on the other side of the exterior. With that fixed, we really had to hustle leave, which meant no Peloton streak for me! Not a big deal, but slightly disappointing.

Sara and I headed over to Edwards, and arrived at The Rose to find it was pretty quiet and we needn’t have rushed. The Rose had brought a TV in for the game, but it was just a small TV in the corner, and there was no sound on. However, what The Rose lacked in Superbowl amenities, they more than made up for with an amazing sushi happy hour menu. Several delicious rolls (and plenty of appetizers) were $5 or less, and the cocktails were only $6! Score.

Plus… $1 oysters!!

We had a lovely time eating and drinking with Heather and Kirk up until halftime, then we called it and headed our separate ways… Kirk and Heather and Sarah all back to Denver to beat the traffic, and me to Minturn for one more night.

But did I call it a night there? Oh no, that would have been too smart. Instead, I headed down to Cowboy Bar, where I had spent the Superbowl last year and knew my roommates were spending it this year. And that kicked off a full night of drinking, eating, and hanging out.

My roommates work in hospitality, and work most nights when I’m free and at the house, so I only get to hang out with them a few times a year. This was one of those nights when I was so glad I could do that! After finishing the rest of the Superbowl at Cowboy Bar, I carried my roommates’ dog Louie home in the snow. (Such bliss! Quiet little town, me, a puppy, and the snow!) And when my roommates got home with another friend soon after, we opened another bottle of wine and hung out in the living room until 2:00 a.m.

Snuggling with Louie at Cowboy Bar. I love this little guy!

Did you know that you can search on YouTube for “karaoke” and then the name of a song, and then spend the night singing karaoke with your friends without any need for a machine? (And does that make me old that I remember the days you had to hire someone to come in with a big machine for karaoke?) We had an awesome time (especially when my roommate Tyson, a chef, cooked us a 1am snack that was one of the best things I’ve ever eaten), but it didn’t make waking up on Monday morning for conference calls and to head back to Denver any easier. Still, I don’t get a lot of time to spend with my roommates, so this was a nice treat!

This week? I’m off to our Advisory Leadership Conference, where I anticipate a lot more drinking and even less sleep. Wish me luck!


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