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  • Writer's pictureKate

Skiing with Tom Rice: Sunscreen, Ski School and 'Shake'

This is Tom Rice getting ready to do a 45-minute hike up to a run not served by lifts. Just to give you an idea of Tom Rice style.

Now, on to the subject of this post. First thing Sunday morning, Tom and I got on a pretty long lift ride and rode up the lift with a guy who really has skied everywhere. And when ski season ends, it's mountain bike season starts and he does his mountain resort circuit all over again.

He loved Tom, especially afterTom told him about the expansion of Phil’s World, a very cool mountain biking park just outside Cortez, and the guy was crazy about that.

He says he has lived 60 places in the past eight years. He can do this because he can telecommute. So finally, after he goes over the attributes of ski areas from Mount Bachelor to here in Telluride, I ask him what he does.

He’s in personal care and he starts talking about this sunscreen he sells for men, Australian Gold. It’s got botanicals in it and zinc oxide and something else oxide and the guy’s like, “Now, it’s tinted. Because what does the zinc do to your skin? It whitens it!”

I swear I never saw anyone sell anything as fast as the way that guy sold Tom on this sunscreen.

Now the whole the rest of the day, Tom, who is not vain and as far as I know doesn't care what he looks like, keeps saying, “What was that stuff called again?” Then we take the lift up and a ski instructor with three tiny students asks us to take one of his students, Annabelle, up with us because he can't fit all the student on a chair with him.

"Sure!" says Tom.

Annabelle tell us she is five and three quarters, but she looks four. Her little butt is barely on the chair, she is hanging over the bar, swinging our skis and my knees are just turning to jello. “I can get off the lift all by myself,” she keeps telling us. I’m like, well, don’t get off yet, honey!

My heart is in my throat. Annabelle is swinging her legs. I'm thinking okay, if she goes off here, at least we're over what looks like a pretty soft pile of powder. And then we go over a damn road. It was the longest lift ride of my life! Fortunately, she has a vest on with a little handle on the back so it’s easy to grab her.

I am a wreck. I think Eliana did this for her job for three winters!!! OMG. And then I think, And I put her and Gavriela in ski school when they were five and some poor person like me had to babysit them on the lift. And then I think, But at five they were both a lot taller than Annabelle.

While I fret, Tom is on his phone, looking up Australian Gold and the tint choices and saying “Do you think I’m fair or medium to dark?”

I’m like, “Annabelle, stop swinging your legs. Tom, ask Willa and Kelly and for God’s sake grab Annabelle!.”

OMG. So he does grab her; it turns out she is making even him nervous. So we get to the top of the lift and Tom keeps Annabelle from jumping off too soon all the while reassuring her that she can get off by herself. So she does get off successfully and safely all by herself. And the ski instructor comes up behind us, clearly relieved, and says, “You were great! Thanks a million! Are you going up lift 11?” I’m like “NO!”

Now, one more Tom story. He and I ate lunch out in the sun, surrounded by mountains and looking down at the single runway on a shaved-off mountain top that is the Telluride airport.

"Once," Tom said, "they closed that airport so that they could plow it. And a guy landed his plane anyway and hit the plow!"

I gasped.

"Everyone lived," Tom said. "But the plane was wrecked. And that guy never flew again."

I would hope not!

As we ate the roast beef sandwiches that he'd brought for both of us, he says regretfully he wishes he had brought the chocolate chip cookies that I had brought instead of leaving them back in the truck.

“Yeah,” I said, “but they would have crumbled."

“Yeah, “ he said, "They would have been shake."

“What do you mean, shake?” I asked.

“It's what's left in a bag of pot. Didn’t you smoke weed in college?” he said.

“Of course, I did,” I said defensively. “I smoked a LOT of pot!”

This girl right next to us laughs so hard that she chokes on her Fritos.

“But I liked speed better,” I said.

The girl just keeps laughing.

"Don't tell my kids," I said. "Well, you can, I already did!"

P.S. This is what I do when Tom climbs up to a run.

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