Her Day at Echo: Teaching (sort of) old gals new tricks

On Wednesday, I wrote about Her Day, a night riding event at Echo Mountain on the first Thursday of every month. Her Day is designed to introduce women to playing on features in the terrain park in an encouraging and relaxed atmosphere.

Though I've skied on and off for 30 years, terrain parks have never been something I've been interested in. For one, they're always sausage fests. For another, I never understood the appeal of riding a few features, then hiking back up and doing it again when you can hit 2,000 foot mogul runs like Pallavicini at Arapahoe Basin or epic powder bowls like Blue Sky Basin at Vail.

However, after talking to Molly Mueller, the marketing director at Echo, I decided to head up Thursday to check out Her Day and see if I could learn a thing or two. Thursday proved to be a trio of firsts for me. In addition to riding features for the first time, it was my first time night skiing and my first time at Echo.

If you're into terrain parks and features, Echo seems to stack up well. Both of its main runs are strung with jumps, jibs, rails, pipes, and more. The lift ride is short, about seven minutes, so you can lap a lot of vertical while honing your skills on all the features without feeling like you have to hike back up to get on the features again.

After checking in at 6 p.m., our group, about 12 women of various ages, headed out with our two Echo instructors. The first hour or so was spent warming up, running laps on the two trails. We were encouraged to try our hand at some of the features to get a feel for them. I was the only person in the group who hadn't been on terrain park stuff before, so I skied up slowly to a box, took a deep breath, and glided straight across it.

At 7, we stopped for a quick dinner, and then it was back out to one set of features, which included a box and a down box (a sloping box that you ride by jumping onto it). A sound system pumped out music while secondary lights illuminated the area, and we went to work, getting tips and encouragement from our two instructors, plus a couple of guys who were hanging around watching us.

There is something to be said for learning with a group of women. I don't think normally that I would have been interested in riding the box, but after watching a few other women in the group do it, I gave it a try, first getting comfortable sliding downhill on the box, then switching to sideways and trying to keep my balance. Everyone encouraged each other, some trying to ride the down box, while others tried to ride the edge of the standard box.

By the end of the night, I found myself smiling while sliding across a pipe and hitting a couple of (for me) big jumps. At around 8:45, we all headed back inside for the schwag giveaway, which included t-shirts and a $50 gift certificate to 720 Boardshop, a co-sponsor of the event.

Echo plans to host one more Her Day this year, on April 1. I know where I'll be.

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Candace Horgan