Riding the ups, downs
April 5, 2009
I wasn’t in the best mood when I woke for an early ski day last weekend.
Even with all the new snow, I had more serious things on my mind. A few days earlier, the vissictitudes of the shaky economy cost us another valued colleague and friend here at the Summit Daily.
Steve Lipsher brought a high level of professionalism to our editorial offices. He was a steadying and encouraging force for both new and experienced reporters and helped build an esprit de corps that will continue to serve the paper and the community in the coming months and years. Most of all, Steve showed us that life in the newsroom can be fun. Even with deadlines looming, he was able to elicit laughs with off-the-wall baseball references or by starting a new contest or office pool. He also helped me immensely when I started down a freelance path 10 years ago. Instead of being territorial about his mountain beat, Steve talked me up to the Denver Post editors, helping me gain valuable experience and credibility in covering important western Colorado stories.
So I felt a little shaky Saturday morning, gathering up gear for a day at Loveland, wondering whether I should instead stay home to polish up my resume. But my son was looking forward to skiing with his buddy, Ethan. And when I thought about Steve and his passion for skiing and the mountains, I knew that a few turns, some sunshine and fresh powder were just what the doctor ordered.
Sure enough, as we cruised the mountain, most of my cares lifted away. Watching the youngsters leap off cornices and thrive in the powder snow and the cold, windy weather is like drinking a secret elixir. Despite my concerns about day-to-day life, I once again see the world as I did when I was their age: A simple and beautiful place, full of magic, laughter, love and joy.
Something about the wind-pressed snow sends me into a short flashback to one of my first ski seasons in the American West, in the early 1980s at Mammoth Mountain. Southern California was mired in a deep recession. On top of that, Mammoth Lakes had recently been hit by a swarm of earthquakes, dealing another blow to the already faltering real-estate market in the area. I was on the verge of starting a youth hostel near Mammoth, a small, nonprofit business that would also depend on the tourist trade. The location I found was just a few miles from the epicenter of the recent quake activity.
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I didn’t think about any of this. I was much too busy renovating the old ranch buildings and writing a business plan. It’s only now, after several decades living in mountain resort towns around the West, that I realize my dream of starting a business was based
on the same spirit of optimism that has long driven western pioneers to turn even the most serious challenge into opportunity ” economy and earthquakes be damned!
None of this should be construed as downplaying the hardships and displacement that many people are experiencing right now. As we rode up Chair 8 and then sped down Satisfaction at the end of our Loveland ski day, I thought about Steve once again. I’m sure he’ll land on his feet and continue bringing his terrific stories to Colorado readers. And I’m looking forward to going and making a few runs with him before this season ends.
I’ll try and carry on in Steve’s tradition here at the Summit Daily when it comes to stories that are important to Summit County and the West Slope.
Feel free to contact me any time and let me know if I’m succeeding or falling short, and I’m always open to ideas for a story or column.
And I do know this. Things get better. They always do. So for now, I’ll take a few minutes each day to remind myself how thankful I am for the amazing 12 years I’ve enjoyed in Summit County. More than ever, I want to stay in ouch with the reasons I moved here to begin with ” family, fresh snow, a rewarding career, and the chance to enjoy the mountains whenever I can make the time.
Bob Berwyn has been reporting from Summit County since 1996. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.