Spring Break Ski Trip

We spent Spring Break skiing Copper Mountain with Travis and his two sons. Despite some minor injuries, we had a great time. Read on for my summary, journal-style. Also, in case my account is too long and boring to get through, I’ll point out that there’s a pretty cool 90-second video at the end of the post.

Day 1 – Driving from Austin to Dillon, Colorado

This day started at 3 AM and we managed to get underway at 3:35 AM. It’s about a 16-hour drive, with a few short stops, and that’s pretty much what it took us. It was, happily, an uneventful drive.

Day 2 – Sleep, Check-in, Snowmobiling & Ski Rental

Our condo reservation at Copper Mountain wasn’t until this day, but was only a short trip from Dillon and check-in wasn’t until 4pm. Thus, there was no need to hurry. A leisurely morning was nice after the long day of travel. We had an opportunity to go snowmobiling for a couple of hours before check-in. Neither Brittney nor I were feeling like it, so we were dropped off at Copper Mountain. Thus, we missed the excitement when McKenzie went over a jump on a snowmobile and bashed her face into the console. Luckily, she escaped with just a sore nose and a busted lip.

Day 3 – First day of skiing

McKenzie, at least, is at the point where I think she needs to ski more than once a year to get better. At this point, it seems she’s mostly limited by fear rather than skill. It was pretty warm for skiing, which was a preview for the whole trip, really. Even so, the snow condition didn’t deteriorate as much as I had feared by the end of the day. Our condo package afforded us special “Secret Pass” lift tickets that allowed us to go to a shorter line for lifts. This was often a significant advantage, though I’ve yet to decide if it would be worth the face value ($20 per day).

Day 4 – Lots of skiing

Another benefit of the “Secret Pass” lift tickets is early access (15 minutes) to one of the main lifts in the morning. We didn’t manage to get to the lift in time for this benefit on the first day, but I pushed us to achieve it on the second. There were already other skiers lined up in the regular line waiting for 9 AM, and it was certainly a privileged feeling to get to bypass them and get on the lift. This was my longest day of skiing during this trip. My GPS battery died on my second-to-last run, showing just under 40 miles traveled (skiing + lifts) in just under 6 hours. I expect I did a couple more miles and maybe 20 or 30 more minutes after it died. I spent the afternoon skiing without my coat as it was that warm. Travis and his kids left a bit early to go “camping” in a cabin somewhere in the mountains. Pass. šŸ™‚

Day 5 – More skiing, late start

Given Travis’ camping, my long day, and an iffy weather forecast, we decided to sleep in a bit on the third day. Other than skiing the entire day without my coat, I’ve pretty much forgotten any specifics from this day. Odd.

Day 6 – Final day of skiing

A bit of a cold front came through, so I did wear my coat again for this day. I also bought and used a cool iPhone App, Ski Tracks, instead of my regular GPS. The biggest advantage of the app, other than immediate viewing on my iPhone, is that it separates each lift and run so that you can view individual statistics. I imported the data to my Garmin page, which doesn’t preserve this additional data but does allow me to embed the map here:

[iframe http://connect.garmin.com:80/activity/embed/74663934 465 548]

Apparently, I decided to ski a bit more aggressively since it was the last day. First, while skiing through the trees (common), I made a last minute adjustment and got a ski stuck pretty deep in the snow at the base of a tree. I managed to extricate myself after a few minutes, but I’ve acquired a sore shoulder as a result. Apparently, this wasn’t enough, so on the final run of our trip I decided to make a third attempt on one of the jump parks.

First, a brief bit of history of my experience in this park. I’d been through it twice before, once on the first day and again on the morning of this final day. The first time I took the three jumps at a fairly moderate speed and this resulted in landing on the tops of the flat hills for the second and third jumps (the first jump had no flat portion on top). Not comfortable. Clearly, the intent is to have enough speed to make it to the downslope of the hills. Thus, when I made my second attempt I did so with more speed and succeeded at landing on the downslope, but managed to catch one of my skis a bit wrong and took a minor fall. Still, I considered it a much better experience than the first time.

Now for the third attempt. I didn’t treat it any different than the second attempt other than to try to be a bit more prepared for the landing so as not to lose my balance. I made it through the second jump successfully and felt well-prepared for the third jump. I gave a brief thought to whether my speed was too high, but I felt that it was about the same as it had been for the second jump. Nope. I hit the third jump with enough speed to carry me over the downslope of the jump and to give me enough time to contemplate how high I was (in retrospect, I’m guessing about 5 ft in the air). Oops: this height was just enough to distract me from a proper landing.

I really have no idea how I came down, but come down I did. Skis and poles were scattered and I slid to rest several feet down the mountain from them.

With a sore knee.

I was able to get my skis back on and finish skiing down the mountain without much difficulty, which was certainly a positive sign. I was also able to walk reasonable well. My knee only really complained if I put any torque on it. I decided that it was likely just sprained.

Day 7 – Driving home part I

I woke up in the wee hours to find that both my shoulder and my knee had really tightened up and I had difficulty walking, so I started to get a bit worried that the injury to my knee was worse than I had thought. Later in the day, however, things were feeling somewhat better and I relaxed a bit. Sitting in the car for hours at a time during the drive home certainly didn’t help.

We stopped for dinner at a Man vs. Food highlight that my family had tried to visit the previous year but wasn’t open for dinner the night we tried. This time, we had verified that it was open, though not very late. We made it in time and had some absolutely wonderful down-home cooking. Oh, the place was The Stockyard Cafe in Amarillo.

Day 8 – Driving home part II

My knee felt much better than the previous morning; more like the evening after I injured it. We finished the drive home and started to settle back into home life. Thankfully, we still had Sunday before we had to get back to work and school, though the kids did have some homework to finish.


Today, almost six days after the injury, I’m walking with a slight limp and twisting my knee still hurts. I figure I’ll give it through the weekend to see if there is marked improvement before I give in and schedule a doctor’s appointment.


As promised, here’s the ski video that Travis put together:

[iframe http://www.youtube.com/embed/6ik7qmKnUvY 640 390]


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  1. #1 by Faiqa on March 23, 2011 - 10:09 pm

    I can’t wait until my kids are old enough to do stuff like this. Also, you look positively dashing in that video.


  2. #2 by Kevin Spencer on March 24, 2011 - 12:03 pm

    I’ve always kicked myself for not learning to ski. I used to live 25 mins away from a ski resort in Italy and do you think I ever learned or even tried it once? Nope. Flagstaff is only a few hours away from Phoenix so maybe there’s still hope for me to learn šŸ˜‰


  3. #3 by whall on March 24, 2011 - 11:39 pm




    That video was surprisingly good. Wait, that sounded bad. I was pleasantly impressed with the video. That sounds not so snarky.

    I guess the limp was gone by the time I saw you the other day, as I didn’t notice anything untoward.


    • #4 by Ren on March 25, 2011 - 9:09 am

      The limp was there, though I was doing a pretty good job of hiding it. It’s worse in the morning and much better in the evenings. Last evening was the best yet but this morning has been worse than the last few mornings.


  4. #5 by Terrilynnh on April 6, 2011 - 10:17 am

    That was a great video! Can’t wait to see the movie! šŸ˜‰


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