International students get their first taste of Colorado skiing culture

Gabriel Go

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(Photos by Gabriel Go.)

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Colorado State University students from different nations around the world were introduced to Colorado skiing and snowboarding culture at Eldora Mountain Resort Saturday when the Fort Collins International Center, partnering alongside CSU’s Office of International Programs, brought over 68 domestic and international students and professors together for a skiing and snowboarding trip.

For many participants, this was their first time going skiing, which is what most of the group chose to do, and each had their own expectations as they took lessons to glide down the slopes.

For Ali Akherati, an Iranian doctorate student in mechanical engineering, skiing for the first time was not just about experiencing a Coloradan pastime, it was also about partaking in a sport that is usually reserved for the upper classes of Iranian society.

“Everything that we (in Iran) don’t manufacture has to be imported into Iran. Because of the inflation, the price of everything is going to be really high,” Akherati said. “This (skiing) is kind of a luxury thing. If I want to buy gear in Iran, it’s going to be $2,000.”

For others who attended the event, skiing is part of American life that is important to experience while abroad. That was what Brazilian biology professor Mauro Pichorin had in mind when he began his sabbatical in Fort Collins.

“It’s good to learn how the life is in the USA, and one year is good to get along with things,” Pichorin said. “I didn’t even have lunch and stayed on the slopes.”

The lessons began jovially. As they shuffled in line to receive their equipment, the looks on many participants’ faces were of silent awe.

Perhaps the hardest part of the trip that many participants had to endure was putting on their boots. Unaccustomed to the fit of ski boots, the skiers hobbled along like penguins, gingerly taking their steps as they tried to keep their balance. At this point, the most common sentiment that many had was just not to fall.

“I hope I don’t fall badly,” said Rebecca Girma, a senior math major.

After having succeeded in wearing their boots, the first-time skiers were led to a clearing with their instructors. After practicing how to put on their skis, they moved on to the basics of moving, maneuvering and stopping. They practiced all of this by going up and down minute slopes, treading slowly along the snow.

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Their lessons culminated in a final test: a beginner’s slope called the Tenderfoot Conveyor. They were to ride the conveyor belt to the top and ski down the slope.

Many stopped in their tracks after several seconds of increasing speed. Others lost balance and fell where they were standing. And some ended up crashing against the red mesh nets on the sides of the slope.

After all the skiers had reached the bottom of the slope, the instructor advised them to continue practicing, setting them loose to explore the resort.

Some first-timers, like Akhereti, disappeared for the entire day and returned just as the rest of the group finished returning their equipment. At around 4:30 p.m., Akherati was one of the last people to board the bus returning to Fort Collins.

“I skied from the first lesson to the second the resort closed,” Ahkerati said.

Like with any new endeavor, there are expectations that accompany the experience. Those in attendance were almost unanimous in saying that the ski trip was a success.

As sophomore civil engineering major Sergio Yugar simply put it, “we love it.”

Collegian Reporter Gabriel Go can be reached at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @jackal893.