Magazine Feature

Ed Ned Porges: Uphill climb

As a DU freshman in 1958, I naively volunteered for my Phi Sigma Delta fraternity ski team, poles, flags and all. An intramural DU ski event was scheduled at Winter Park, about an hour west of Denver. My wood skis and boots came from Dave Cook Sporting Goods in downtown Denver. Zolly Scheidler worked at the store and had special rates for Phi Sig fraternity brothers.

I had been at Winter Park a few times before. I learned how to use the rope tow, snowplowed down, did it again, this time parallel—the way it was supposed to be done— and, of course, flew totally out of control. Did some falling, did it again. It was exhausting. Then I did the next big thing—the chair lift.

The day of the intramural came, and I thought I was prepared. One of the brothers, Mike Canges, suggested that I wear jeans with newspaper in the legs to stay dry. I heard someone call out, “Phi Sig’s up!” I took off from the top of the hill, got around one flag and fell. Got up, continued on down to the next flag and fell. Got up … you know the rest. I might still have the University record for taking the most time to get to the bottom.

Perhaps it was the next year I got a winter quarter job at Winter Park. I was paid a few dollars per day, a ski pass, room and board. The room was a cabin with two bunk beds and a potbellied stove for heat and a single 25-watt light bulb. The “board” of the room and board was all you could eat at a place called the Hot Spot, which was at the top of a slope. It served a very limited menu of hot drinks, hot dogs and bagged chips. There were three of us who worked at the top. We had a toboggan to load up in the morning with all the product, including jugs of water for the day, and we attached it to the chair tow for the long pull up the hill. One of us would sit atop the load; the others rode the chairs.

At the end of the day, we would load up the toboggan again for the ride downhill. One person would ski in front of the load and one would be in the rear holding a rope to slow the sled. After unloading we would have time for perhaps one or two runs before it got dark. I stayed at the park for the winter quarter. My parents were unaware of this dalliance. Looking back, it was one more folly of mine. My excuse was that there would be girls to meet (there weren’t many); being a ski bum would be glamorous (it wasn’t); and that the experience for a hotel and restaurant major would be significant (it also wasn’t). I did, however, become a fair skier with fewer sitzmarks.

I never skied after graduating from DU. Its been 50 years since I last strapped on skis. I do not like snow and I do not like being cold. Fie on skis, I say. The tropics or another year-round warm place is my destiny.

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