Livin’ the life: Fraser Valley boarders, skiers can’t wait to hit slopes |

Livin’ the life: Fraser Valley boarders, skiers can’t wait to hit slopes

Grand County, Colorado
Byron Hetzler/Sky-Hi Daily News
ALL | Sky-Hi Daily News

Fraser, Colorado’s, Erik Olson has been preparing for Winter Park Resort to open by watching snowboard movies, waxing his board, using an Indo Board to improve balance, and practicing on a jib he built in his yard.

Olson, 23, plans to hit the slopes today, the first day of the season at Winter Park Resort, with friends and roommates. He has been looking forward to this day since the resort closed.

Last season he manage to put in 71 days in at the resort. This year, he hopes to get in as many as possible. This is his fifth season snowboarding, and he is looking forward to face shots (blasts of snow in the face.)

A day in the life

On a typical day he heads to the mountain with roommates and meets people at the resort.

“I drink my breakfast,” he said. “I go and have a beer before I ride.”

The Wisconsin native moved to Winter Park for “good people and good times.”

Right now he does landscaping for Neils Lunceford Inc. in Granby. He is not sure what he will do this winter, but his hope is that it goes something like this ” “ride in the day, work in the night.”

Ever since Olson’s roommate, Matt Newkirk, left Kansas State University to come to Winter Park Resort to snowboard in November 2006, he hasn’t regretted it.

Before his move, Newkirk, 25, snowboarded at Colorado resorts on holiday breaks, but a few days weren’t enough to get good, he said.

“You might as well do it while you’re young and your body can handle bumps an bruises,” he said. “(Winter Park) is a good atmosphere, with a lot of good people ” and a lot of crazy people too.”

When he was visiting home, one of his friend’s was just finishing law school and jealous he hadn’t take time off from school like Newkirk.

“If it’s something they want to do, they should do it while they’re young,” Newkirk said. “It’s about time to go back to school. We’ll see if I get enough this year ” get my fix.”

Last season he was able to get about 80 days of riding in, while his first season he rode for about 100.

Working for turns

Many dedicated skiers and boarders try to work nights so they can play on the mountain all day. Newkirk cooks at Fontenot’s a few days and nights. The owners at the family-owned restaurant are good about allowing their employees time on the mountain, he said.

“People hold onto those jobs because it’s not as easy to find,” Newkirk added.

He enjoys free riding and off trail riding.

“I’m not big in the park, that’s because I got hurt my first season,” Newkirk added. “You can’t really afford the injuries when you’re 25 working an hourly job.”

He broke his arm hitting a rail in late February but was back on his board by spring break. His favorite days to snowboard are Tuesdays and Wednesdays, because it’s not as crowded, and there’s a lot of snow.

“I’m going to go to Berthoud more, get off the resort,” Newkirk said about his plans for the season. “I’m going to have a back flip by the end of the year ” you can quote me on that.”

Ty Dawkins, 22, from Oklahoma City, is also looking forward to the ski season, his second. He moved to Winter Park a month ago and is “couch surfing.”

When there’s a lot snow he tries to wake up early to ride it.

“I try to get up early, you know … and then ride until you die,” he said. “If it’s a powder day, you just ride until the lifts stop running.”

He enjoys riding fast through trees and dropping big drops.

He hasn’t found a job in the area, so he plans to move to Vail to work nights and ride days. He hopes to work in Vail and live in a Toyota Camry he calls his “hoopty,” an old beat-up car, he just bought for that purpose.

Last year, he got 60 days in at Winter Park Resort.

“It was a blast, best time ever,” he said. “People are cool, everything’s cool out here. It’s nothing like ghetto Southside Oklahoma City.”

‘Totally free’

Jeff Miller, 24, who also rooms with Newkirk and Olson, said he has built two snowboard jumps “stashed” on Mary Jane.

He takes out a shorter board when at the terrain park, and uses a longer board on the powder.

He compares snowboarding to wakeboarding, but said snowboarding doesn’t require a $75,000 boat and driver.

“I love wakeboarding, but snowboarding rocks ” it’s totally free,” he said.

Miller enjoys bringing his German shepherd, Beau, when he and friends go to Berthoud Pass to ride backcountry.

“I like the terrain park, but love those powder days,” he said. “You can get a lot more runs riding lifts than hiking up, but you can find better lines, deeper snow, bigger drops on Berthoud.”

He moved out to ride and for a change of pace, he said. Last year, he got in more than 100 days in at the resort by working night shifts at Fontenot’s and hopes to get in just as many this year.

He will keep his German shepherd with his friends, and plans to move to Vail this week but come back on weekends and work at the resort on Saturdays.

“I’ll be able to ride a lot of different resorts this year, including Aspen during the X-games,” he said.

Greg Williams, 35, of South Carolina has been in Colorado for more than a decade. He also moved to Winter Park to ride.

“I just love it ” I’ve loved it for 11 years now,” he said.

He has been in one accident that involved rocks when he was with friends in 2000.

“I hit a bare spot, lost control and tumbled,” he said. “I cracked the helmet wide open, had a concussion, and dislocated a shoulder.”

This is his tip to new riders, and those going backcountry:

“If anything gets in your way, turn,” he said with a laugh. “Just always be cautious. Pay attention to what’s going on around you and pray nothing happens.”

Snowboarding is a big part of his life.

“I tried to move away from it twice and came back to it,” he said.

Last season, he got 78 days in at the resort. He works for Condominium Management Company in Winter Park.

“I won’t get as many days this year,” Williams said. “If there’s a lot of snow I usually go to the resort. If there are a lot of people I would go backcountry. And I if want to be lazy, I ride the lifts.”

Mary Jane is his favorite part of the resort; however he wouldn’t reveal his favorite spot on the mountain. “Go find it yourself,” Williams said.

” Katie Looby covers government and education for the Sky-Hi Daily News. You may reach her at 887-3334 ext. 19601 or

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