Navigator: Black vs. Blue

ski-couple

illustration by Ingo Fast

CAN AN EXPERT SKIER FIND JOY ON THE SLOPES HANGING WITH A RANK BEGINNER?

I just started dating someone who wants to go to Vail on a Presidents Day ski weekend with me. It sounds great, but I’m an expert and he’s, well, not. I like this guy, but I don’t want to spend the whole weekend on the bunny hill. What can I do? —Caroline S., Carbondale

This is a common question here in Colorado, where most of us cherish our powder days at least as much as our new romantic interests. Don’t crush this guy’s confidence by shooting down the idea right away; instead, give him a chance to rise to the challenge! Drop a few hints about how long you’ve been skiing and what kind of terrain you like—it’s possible he’s not even aware of your skill discrepancy, and you don’t want him quaking in his rental boots at the top of some mogul run he’s not ready for. Once he knows what he’s getting himself into, take some time to study the resort map before you head out for the day. Even though you could probably carve circles around him, skiing together is still possible—it just takes some thoughtful planning to identify the specific runs (probably blues) that will be doable for him and still fun for you. At Vail, the Eagle Bahn Gondola is a good bet. It provides access to some nice, long, mellow blue groomers, with occasional short expert runs branching off. If he’s really bad, Vail offers individualized half-day lessons for skiers of all levels. Spend the morning apart, meet for a beer in the lodge at noon, and ski the rest of the day together. Will this be the most epic weekend of your life, lapping double-blacks in the back bowls? Probably not. As long as you’re willing to give that up for a couple of days, there’s no reason you can’t have fun with some easy hero runs while getting to know this new guy better. If the chairlift conversation sparkles enough, you may not even notice.

I was just diagnosed as gluten-intolerant, but I love beer. How do I navigate Colorado’s brewery scene? —Helene O., Boulder

In the past, a diagnosis of gluten intolerance meant that beer was generally off-limits, but no longer. Our brewery- obsessed state has made significant strides in the last few years crafting options for gluten-intolerant beer lovers. So the next time your friends want to grab a pint, don’t refuse the invitation; simply nudge them toward a spot that works for you. Holidaily Brewing Company in Golden is the first no-gluten brewery in the state, founded by a cancer survivor whose treatment necessitated a gluten-free diet. Dos Luces Brewery on South Broadway is also gluten-free, thanks to its process of brewing with corn instead of barley, a technique as old as wheat brewing but little practiced in today’s craft beer scene. New Belgium has come out with a “Glutiny” Pale Ale whose gluten content falls below the FDA’s official threshold for gluten-free products: 20 parts per million. (Corona is also below the threshold.) And Brewery Rickoli, located (ironically) in Wheat Ridge, is completely gluten-free but doesn’t often advertise as such. In all, there are 26 breweries across the state offering gluten-free or gluten-reduced beer, according to ColoradoBreweryList.com, which publishes an interactive map showing the locations of all of them.

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