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“Do you ski?” asked the bearded man across the table from me.
It seemed like a yes or no question. But I’d been on enough first dates in Colorado to understand there was an assumption embedded in his query: He wasn’t really asking if I plowed through powder, but whether I did so on two planks or one.
I sighed. I knew I was about to disappoint him. There are few things I dislike more than the always-crowded, outrageously expensive sport of skiing (or snowboarding).
I’ve always been embarrassed to make that confession, since not skiing is akin to having three heads in the Centennial State. And while I know I’m not alone in my aversion, after years of watching the weekend exoduses of mountain-bound Subarus from November to April, it sure feels like it. (There’s even a Denver-based app, LuvByrd, that offers chairlift speed dating to help ski bunnies meet partners they can carve with 100 days a year.)
I’d tried to be explicit about my feelings in my online dating profile, writing that I was a “runner/hiker/cyclist/yogi but not a skier (sorry!).” After scrolling through countless photos of neon-jacketed bros posing with their boards on Tinder and Bumble, the distinction seemed important. That didn’t deter powder-loving suitors, though. Two wannabe beaus sent me the same (groan-worthy) message: “I don’t care if you fall on the slopes as long as you fall for me.” Unsurprisingly, my match-to-date ratio wasn’t very high on either dating platform.
I had a little better luck on the Coffee Meets Bagel app, where I connected with a cross-country skier. OK, I decided, I can work with smaller crowds and flatter terrain. After all, I love the crisp mountain air and endorphin highs that come with outdoor recreation; I’m just not willing to risk life, limb, and budget to experience them. Sadly, the relationship went downhill before snow even fell. As I wallowed in my house, When Harry Met Sally streaming on my laptop, I began to wonder if I’d ever find a partner who didn’t require me to “slay the pow” (dear God) in order to prove my love.
My next rendezvous didn’t seem to offer much hope: On our first date at Crooked Stave Artisans’ taproom, Sean told me he skied about 30 days a year. But he was also brilliant and pop-culture savvy. We tried a second date and then a third.
Eight months later, when Sean could finally use his three ski passes, I developed a plan to accompany him on his adventures—and create some of my own along the way. Not skiing didn’t mean I couldn’t explore the Rockies. In Taos, while he yard-saled down a narrow chute (he was fine), I snowshoed to a glossy alpine lake, where the only sounds were my muted footsteps and the fir trees sighing in the frigid air. On another trip, I went trail running on freshly fallen snow in White River National Forest while Sean braved Aspen Mountain with three buddies.
When the first flakes fell in the mountains this year, I was even more excited than my carvaholic boyfriend. As our second ski season starts, I have destinations of my own in mind: Crested Butte, Telluride, maybe even Utah. After all, it doesn’t matter whether I join my man on the slopes or seek out my own adventures—there’s still a place for me in the Forester.