New Orleans transplant takes to snowboarding
KEYSTONE – Eight-year-old Dylan Dauser hurried through the line at the Discovery Lift at Keystone’s beginner area Sunday morning, and confidently loaded onto the two-person chair, eager to take the first run of the day on his pint-sized snowboard. To him, it didn’t matter that he’d never seen snow before September, when he and his family moved to Colorado from New Orleans to escape Hurricane Katrina.He just wanted to snowboard.”It’s almost like skateboarding, but you have to strap yourself in,” Dauser said of the new sport he’s learning.Dauser is one of 18 third- through fifth-grade kids from Frisco and Silverthorne elementary schools learning to ride at Keystone through Snowboard Outreach Society (SOS).
SOS provides five lessons, rental equipment and lift tickets to kids with risk factors in their lives. Instructors intertwine one of five core values into each lesson: courage, discipline, integrity, wisdom and compassion.On Sunday morning, Dauser played with a group of boys inside the Keystone Mountain House while they waited for their turn to sign up for rental equipment for their fourth SOS lesson.The small, blue-eyed third grader at Frisco Elementary School easily talked about snowboarding, but softened his voice when the topic turned to the hurricane, saying it scared him, and that it was bad. He recalled going to Mississippi after the storm, then heading back into Louisiana so his family could gather as many of their possessions as possible from their ruined home.Dauser brightened when he reminisced about the car trip that led his family through Louisiana, Arkansas, Oklahoma and Kansas to get to Colorado.
“It took like a month,” he said.Now that he’s in Summit County, Dauser said he doesn’t want to leave. He likes Frisco Elementary better than his old school in New Orleans and enjoys the new friends he’s made. Plus, there are the mountains in Colorado and the weather is better here than on the Gulf Coast, he said.”There’s snow and you can’t have tornadoes here,” Dauser said.An hour later on the hill, Dauser and the five other kids in his group took their first run of the day with the help of instructor Billy Pemberton from Keystone.”We’ve got real nice, soft snow down here. What I want to see you do is make some turns down here,” Pemberton encouraged the group in his English accent.
Dauser raised his hand to go second, and headed down the short hill on his heelside edge.He fell every couple turns, but always bounced right back to his feet to try it again.”He’s completely taken to (snowboarding), he’s really adapted to it, it’s great,” Pemberton said.Pemberton hopes that by the end of the kids’ five sessions, they’ll be comfortable putting on and taking off their own equipment, riding the chairlifts and be able to practice proper mountain etiquette. He doesn’t think Dauser will have any trouble succeeding, and neither does Peder Hansen, the teacher coordinator from Frisco Elementary.
“He doesn’t complain. He’s upbeat, positive. … A lot of kids really focus on themselves, but Dylan gets what he’s doing, then really focuses on (helping) other kids,” Hansen said.Nicole Formosa can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 13625, or at firstname.lastname@example.org
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