Then suddenly it’s over. Football season is done (the Broncos are long done), and there’s almost nothing good to watch on TV anymore. The remote control home-arrest bracelet immediately becomes irrelevant, and your weekends beckon with all the possibilities of distant peaks, deep blue mornings and fresh white snow.
After months of perfecting the four-channel stare (FOX, CBS, NBC and ESPN, repeat as needed), it’s as if the walls magically fall away, and with perfect focus, the rest of your winter comes into view. Here’s what we will be doing:
Ski Your Ass Off
Winter is short (and apparently getting shorter). So unless you’re reading this on the can, the coffee shop or in the dark, then you’re probably wasting a turn right now. Or as Klaus Obermeyer (the patron saint of successful ski bumming) said more eloquently, “Every day that you don’t ski, you never get back again.” The fact that Klaus turned 90 this year—happy birthday, Mr. Obermeyer!—makes that seem an even sager view. So call in sick, quit or take a mental health month, and go throw yourself at the hill. It’s the only thing you’ll really remember 10 years from now anyhow.
Meet a Girl (or, reintroduce yourself to your significant other and/or sexy wife)
Seriously. I don’t know what the #*&$! you’re waiting for, dudes. You’ve been hanging with your bros waaay too much. And honestly, you’re starting to act kind of weird (and don’t think you’re immune, female football fans. You can act just as weird as us). So now that the TV’s finally off, you should go out in the world to try and find her—the love of your life or your new fun chairlift buddy or the person who introduces you to the love of your life—but if you don’t go say ‘Hi!’ to her when you see her in the Whole Foods checkout line, rocking at the Fox Theater or with her ponytail hanging out of the back of her helmet at Copper, then you’ll never find out. On the other hand, if you do decide to keep pounding Pabst and riding the couch, then at least stop asking your buddies why you can’t meet cool girls.
Anywhere, as long as it’s somewhere else. Thirty minutes on the road in any direction in Colorado can take you to another world. Around every corner here there are crippled creeks and tiny towns and bare naked peaks you never saw before. There are barstools and coffee shops and condos and cabins where you can sit and look out the window, and see your life in a whole new light as you say, “Whoa, did I just go someplace else only to find myself?”
As a Coloradoan, I never really read Thoreau. While some people may say that disqualifies me from a having a complete comprehension of American environmental thought, I always thought that stuff was for East Coast kids eating mom’s pies and camping out down by the lake. But I do like what he said about how wherever we go we quickly build a path.
Watch the Olympics
OK, I didn’t mean that there was absolutely nothing on television to watch. That every four-year fiesta of frozen flips, rocketing racers and nationalized athleticism known as the Olympics returns, just to the north in British Columbia, which should make for some exciting live broadcasts—especially because the US Alpine, Freestyle and Snowboard teams are all poised to kick some outrageous ass on this go-round.
In the on-snow events, this could be the strongest Olympic team we’ve ever brought to competition. Lindsey Vonn is a legitimate threat to win gold in five events. Gravity guru Bode Miller (winner of two silver medals at the 2002 Games in Salt Lake City) has returned to the team, with nothing left to lose. Alpine skiers Julia Mancuso and Ted Ligety both shocked the world and brought home gold (Combined, GS) at the ‘06 Torino Olympics. And the snowboard team is led by the greatest competitive snowboarder ever, the Flying Tomato himself, Mr. Shaun White.
So I hope the Canadian Outdoor Orchestra has been practicing our national anthem because I think they’ll be playing it quite often this February. (Here comes the chant: ‘USA, USA…’)
Start the ‘Next Year’ Broncos talk
It’s time to start looking ahead. That’s just the nature of fandom. You have to believe that the best is always yet to come. And since in the last off-season the Broncos fired a Hall of Fame double Super Bowl winning head coach, replaced him with a wunderkind from New England, who traded away the Pro Bowl quarterback and then, after being basted in bad media all summer, started out the season with six straight wins, there’s a strong sense of,
“What could possibly happen next?”
Will Brandon ‘The Beast’ Marshall remain on the team, he of the low budget contract and NFL single game receiving mark? (It’s doubtful). Will the Broncos use the draft to obtain yet one more future starting quarterback (who will be somehow compared to Elway in the first three weeks, even though being the next Brian Griese, Bubby Brister, Jake Plummer or Jay Cutler is more likely his fate)?
Will Patriots fans finally shut up?
It may seem early, but on chairlifts, in coffee shops and all over Colorado, thousands of similar versions of that conversation have already occurred. Which is nice. Because while the winter fades into a glorious Rocky Mountain spring followed by another stunning summer, as the snow slowly melts off the highest peaks, all of us armchair Elways will enjoy pretending that we actually know what we’re talking about before the next season starts.
In the meantime, we’ll see you on the slopes. •
Peter Kray is an East High School graduate who married a Cherry Creek girl. He keeps a framed copy of John Elway’s Broncos rookie card next to his wedding photo. Read more of his writing, including excerpts of his upcoming novel, The God of Skiing, at shredwhiteandblue.com.