The Outsider: A holiday wish for sunscreen
Ask any of my riding buddies, and they’ll tell you I’m kind of a freak about sunscreen.
For years and years as a youngster, all I wanted was a goggle tan like the ones I saw on pros in the magazines. Everyone else across the world thinks they look ridiculous — who purposely wants to look like a raccoon? — but, on the slopes, it’s a badge of honor, something that says, “Damn right, I get more than a weekend of skiing a year.”
Then I grew up and learned about melanoma, premature aging and all the other sun-based horror stories. I also realized that my skin just isn’t made for a deep, dark, rich goggle tan. No, I’m more likely to fry after a few hours and look miserably red for at least two days.
So I started wearing sunscreen, and, these days, I hardly head to the hill without it. Or at least I try to. On gorgeous bluebird days, my friends will also tell you I’m occasionally running around the base area trying to find sunscreen anywhere: ski school, the hotel concierge, other skiers who are much more prepared than I am — anything to avoid paying $4.50 for a four-ounce tube of sunscreen. (Yep, that’s the price at most on-mountain shops.) Sometimes I get lucky — I now have a stick of Breckenridge Grand Vacations rub-on sunscreen in my snowboard pants — and sometimes I just have to suck it up and wear a facemask on blazing-hot days. So it goes, I guess.
Then came Copper Mountain.
Until last season, I hadn’t skied there consistently since I was in middle school and still stoked on goggle tans. When I finally returned to Copper, I rediscovered incredible frontside glades, easy-to-access cornices and lighter crowds than the other local ski hills. It was love at second sight.
And then Copper did the unthinkable: Last weekend, ski patrol set out a tent with water and free sunscreen right in the heart of Burning Stones Plaza at the base of American Eagle lift. It reminded me of childhood trips to Water World — a water park in north Denver that placed massive tubs of sunscreen across the park for anyone and everyone to use. I never burned at Water World, which hopefully means my cancer risk is lower than it should be, at least across my shoulders and back and chest. My nose might not be so lucky.
Why am I yammering on about goggle tans and free sunscreen at Christmastime? Maybe you could call that my Christmas wish: I’d love to see free sun protection at all ski resorts.
Tubs in the lift lines have come and gone over the years at Keystone and elsewhere but if it’s worth it to install an Epic Mix scanner at every Vail Resorts base terminal, I also think it’s worth it to have a few gallons of sunscreen spread across the mountain, especially come springtime when the sun gets truly brutal. I’m not the only one with a stick of BGV sunscreen in my pocket, but I’m definitely in the minority. I’m also starting to sound like my mom.
Food for thought. In the meantime, enjoy the holidays and all that Summit County has to offer. Oh, and don’t forget sunscreen.
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