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Berit Ramstad Skoyles: Taking advantage of the Chilean slopes

It was opening day at Nevados de Chillan and I was among the many people who made their way up the mountain to enjoy the first ski runs of the winter. The sky was blue, the sun was out and it was perfect weather for shorts. My dream of skiing in Chile was finally coming true.         

We all know I’m a crazy fanatic about skiing. During the winter season it is basically the only thing that goes through my head. Knowing that, you can imagine how hard it has been for me to endure almost an entire year of summer.

My wait is over. Winter is finally here. The temperatures have dropped to 43 degrees Fahrenheit (I try not to laugh when the Chilean people think that 43 degrees is cold; I play along with them so they don’t call me crazy too many times). Although it doesn’t quite feel like winter to me, it’s the only winter I’ve had in more than a year so I plan to enjoy it while it lasts.

When my two exchange student friends and I arrived at the base of the mountain we couldn’t contain our excitement. I can’t remember how many times, “Holy cats we’re skiing in Chile!” came out of our mouths. It didn’t seem real. With the ski lifts, the snow, the mountains, and the skiers and snowboarders, we were at home.

Of course rental took us awhile to get through, but once we were out on the slopes nothing stopped us.

Actually, many things stopped us.

My friend, Sofie, told me before we went skiing that she was an excellent skier and she had no trouble going down the hardest runs. I would have to say that “excellent skier” was slightly more than a huge exaggeration.

Since the lift tickets were free on opening day, the lines were very long. At times we waited for 10-15 minutes in the line just to ride up for another 15 minutes. Other than waiting in lines and the waiting for my friend, nothing got in our way of enjoying the snow.

After about two or three runs I started to get hot — I wasn’t accustomed to skiing in such hot weather. I ended up taking off my snowpants and my two shirts, which left me in shorts and a light sweatshirt. For a while, I had just pulled my snowpants down, revealing my shorts. After one too many unwanted gestures from men I took them off all together.

In the lift lines I could hear people almost five rows up talking about the girl with shorts. Little did they know that I was right behind them. I’m pretty sure that I don’t possess ten heads, but by the looks I got from the native Chileans, you would think that I did. I’m very used to the weird looks now, but seeing them just for skiing in shorts was quite funny.

With the ski area being smaller than what I am used to in the Rocky Mountains of home, it brought back old memories of Detroit Mountain. I couldn’t help but smile while I rode up the T-bar, as I remembered being utterly terrified of the one that brought me to the top of “West” with my Dad when I was five years old.

Being able to alpine ski just an hour away from my home is something that I have missed for far too long. Having the luxury of a ski resort that close to home reminded me of the days when we could ski at Detroit Mountain. The high schools in Chillan are filled with kids who ski and snowboard. They go and ski every chance they get, just because they can. Sure, it’s a bit expensive, but it’s worth the cost to take advantage of the beautiful skiing, and besides, it keeps us out of “trouble.”

As you can probably tell, I am 110 percent for the cause of Detroit Mountain, and skiing in Chile just makes me want it back so much more. I am so jealous of my friends here in Chillan. They get to Alpine ski on real mountains an hour from their home all winter long. Me too, please!

Sadly, I know that when I get home I will have to wait for Detroit Mountain — if only for a while. But for now, you can be certain that I will take advantage of this Chilean hometown skiing every moment that I can.