My favorite skiing partner and I got off to a rocky start more than three decades ago. The former Lauri Zinn and I began dating after she swept me off my feet just before Memorial Day, 1989. We had a whirlwind summer romance, broke up on my birthday in October, and then reconnected on her birthday in November. Just in time, it seemed, for ski season.
Unlike many of my previous girlfriends, Lauri could ski. She wasn’t an obsessed powderhound by any stretch of the imagination, but she knew how to get around a mountain just fine, provided she avoided the bumps, and she enjoyed being outdoors in the winter. Though a native of Kansas, Lauri and her clan made a number of pilgrimages each year to Colorado. They would load up her dad’s cavernous Suburban and head west for the 13-hour, brutally straight shot across the flatlands of Kansas and eastern Colorado.
Sadly for Lauri, she quickly learned that there was little comparison between the velvety corduroy of the Rockies and New England’s somewhat, um, unpredictable coverage. Still, she was a gamer who welcomed a challenge, and we took the hills as soon as we could.
Since our ability levels at the time were fairly disparate, I took a page out of my brother Michael’s playbook. Mike, an exceptional skier, had started snowboarding with his then girlfriend, who was an absolute novice to winter sports. It was a stroke of genius, enabling the two of them to learn a new sport at the same pace. By following Mike’s example, Lauri and I were more evenly matched on the same terrain, her on two boards and me on a single plank.