Monday, January 8, 2007

What goes down must come back up

It's no secret that alpine skiing here in Minnesota leaves a lot to be desired. Like for starters: another thousand feet of vertical and another 36 inches of annual snowfall. Still, the state has managed to produce more than its fair share of Olympic class skiers. (The theory goes that skiing short fast icy slopes is brutally good training.)

Still, we gave up alpine skiing years ago after being spoiled out west. Then we noticed that some of our more interesting and outgoing friends had joined the kids... on snowboards. How hard could it be?

Minnesota ski hills are a great place to learn how to snowboard. We still think of it as supersized skateboarding, so the hills seem plenty big and steep. A sneak trip out to Afton Alps this weekend resulted in some key information you should know about: Afton has done an amazing job making and maintainiing snow. Thirty seven of 48 runs are open, and we counted 17 lifts running—a big enough people-moving operation to accomodate thousands of skiers and boarders with nary a wait at the bottom of the hill. (They seem to have cracked that nut: The thing that is most soul-killing about Midwest skiing is the amount of time spent at the bottom, or trying to get back up.) The damage? A perfectly reasonable $35 all-day lift ticket, and a five dollar lunch tab. That's a small price to pay to put global warming out of your mind and a smile on your face, at least for one day.

Afton Alps:
1-800-328-1328, 651-436-5245

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