Learn How to Look, Act, and Behave like a Clueless Tourist in a Ski Town
by G. Kunkel
(This article was originally published on Yahoo! Voices on 1/12/2011)
One of the many definitions of a gaper in the Urban Dictionary is “A gaper is a skier or snowboarder who is completely clueless. Usually distinguished by their bright colored clothes and a gaper gap – the gap between goggles and a helmet/hat”. Novice skiers and those from warm weather states often strut extreme gaper fashion and behavior much to the amusement or concern of locals. Here’s how to look like a gaper at any ski resort.
Wear blue jeans
Saying someone “skis in jeans” is an insult in any respectable ski town. Blue jeans are a great way to be cold and miserable while skiing. They do not have any waterproofing or insulation. Skiing in blue jeans is timeless gaper fashion.
Use ancient ski gear
Want to look like a hard-core gaper? Wear those rear entry boots and skinny skis from twenty years ago. You’ll have your picture taken all day around the ski area. Expect to have the pictures show up on internet threads about ski gapers that evening.
Wear one-piece ski suits
Wearing a one-piece ski suit, colloquially called “fart bags” by ski town locals, is just one step up from skiing in blue jeans. Save them for Gaper Day. Some local expert skiers will wear neon ones on occasion and hit everything but the groomers.
Stiff the ski instructor
Not tipping the ski instructor is a classic gaper move. PSIA and AASI Certified ski and snowboard instructors individually pay thousand’s of dollars out their own pockets to become certified and remain current with teaching instruction. They see very little of the money paid for the lesson. If you’ve had a fun lesson and learned something, it is customary to tip your ski instructor or your kid’s instructor.
Wear snow blades
Snow blades went out with the 1990’s. If you wear them on the ski slopes, expect people to question your sexual orientation.
Wear a Starter jacket while skiing
You know the gapers are out when Starter jackets are visible on the ski slopes. Nothing says clueless skier like a Starter jacket. Give these people a people a wide berth. Most fall down randomly.
Wear a cowboy hat while skiing
Only one person in the USA can wear a cowboy hat while skiing and not look like a gaper. If you are not Billy Kidd, leave the cowboy hat at home.
Wear stretch pants
Stretch pants went out with the 1980’s. Save them for Gaper Day.
Wear neon colored clothing
Save the neon for Gaper Day unless you are an expert skier who can ski any terrain anytime. If you wear neon ski clothing – back it up.
Slam the bar onto someone’s head on the chairlift
Slamming the bar down on people’s head on the chairlift without any warning is the classic behavior of a self-centered gaper. Common courtesy dictates telling fellow chairlift users that the bar is coming down so that it doesn’t conk them in the head.
Comments on the chairlift or lift line
Gapers say the oddest things on the chairlift or in the lift line. They include classic statements like “the powder is too deep”, “they need to groom the powder”, and “I didn’t come all the way to Colorado to ski powder”. Other chuckle producing gaper statements include “where do they store the moguls in summer?” and “are those water skis?” Gaper statements provide endless entertainment for ski country locals on the Teton Gravity Research forum thread “Best gaper quote of the weekend”.
Don’t follow the Responsibility Code
Not understanding or following the Responsibility Code is more classic gaper behavior. Skiers and snowboarders must all ski in control, yield the right of way to the people ahead of them on the trail, and don’t stop were you can’t be seen.
Don’t follow the terrain park rules
Gapers typically snake other people’s lines or fail to follow proper terrain park etiquette. They ride in mass numbers in the halfpipe or use ramps for getting onto to terrain park features for jumping. This usually results in collisions or the degradation of feature ramps. Unsupervised little kids or clueless adults sometimes get landed on when they hang out on the landing areas of jumps.
Compare a small ski hill to a major western ski resort
Gapers often like to compare their small ski hill back home to a large resort with extreme terrain. We all probably started at a small ski area but a place with 200 vertical feet most likely does not have chutes, cliffs, or pillow lines.
Don’t use courtesy in the lift line
Some gapers show an extreme lack of manners in the lift line. They don’t take turns alternating, ski across the front of the entrance of a lift maze but don’t enter, or they ram their skis over other peoples gear.
Improperly load the lift
Gapers get in the chairlift maze but suddenly forget how to load when they get to the “load here” sign. They’ll forget to move forward to load or they’ll fall off the lift as it leaves.
Deliberately over-terrain themselves
True gapers can’t be bothered to read ski maps. As a result you’ll often find gapers struggling down double black diamond slopes or on extreme terrain. Unfortunately, they often take their unsuspecting spouses along.
Be unfamiliar with the equipment
Gapers show their extreme gaperness when it involves ski equipment. Rather than ask how the equipment works, they’d rather figure it out for themselves. Gapers can often be spotted with their ski boots on the wrong feet. The more rare gaper will put their foot with a shoe still on it into their ski boots. Expect hysterical laughter from the back of the rental shop.
Ignore ski resort boundary markers
Many a gaper has ducked a ski area boundary rope to find untracked powder. This doesn’t always end well.
Drive erratically and slam on your brakes
Gapers like to keep the locals guessing about their next move in traffic. Sometimes they like to show how far their vehicle can slide on snow. Locals know that an empty parking lot is the best place to practice donuts in the car. A Copper Mountain bus driver strutted his technique in Warren Miller’s “Cold Fusion”.
Gaper Day is celebrated every April 1 in ski towns across the USA. Local skiers and snowboarders dress up and behave like tourists out at the local ski resort. Ski resorts started cracking down on the more outrageous behavior for the 2009-10 ski season. Don’t miss Gaper Day at Breckenridge or Steamboat. Gaper Day at Breckenridge from 2006. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xpEfx7j9i2A
Beginner skiers and snowboarders can easily avoid looking like a gaper at a ski resort. With the proper ski equipment and lessons, one can blend in as a laid back ski local.
The Best Times to Ski or Snowboard Vacation in Colorado
How to Stay Safe While Skiing or Snowboarding at a Ski Resort
The 10 Winter Accessories Essential for Your Car
Winter Driving Tips for Colorado
personal knowledge and experience
And the classic video from Breckenridge Gaper Day 2006
© 2008-2014 G. Kunkel and Colorado, snowboards, and scooters. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to G. Kunkel and Colorado, snowboards, and scooters with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. Google