Slopeside with James Patrick: Jeans Guy is too cold to be cool

New Hampshire Union Leader |
February 28. 2013 11:22PM


NEWBURY -- Jeans Guy is usually pretty easy to spot. He's the guy who isn't having a very good time on the bunny hill, probably because his legs are Popsicles.

We have all prejudged Jeans Guy. There's nothing less cool or harder to watch than Jeans Guy working his way down a run. Jeans Guy has to be careful because his pants have absolutely no padding and a fall can really hurt. Jeans Guy's jeans also have a tendency to get wet, then freeze to his thighs.

But Jeans Guy was having a good time at Mount Sunapee on Saturday. He was wearing a Mad Bomber hat that wrapped around his head and a regular pair of sunglasses instead of goggles, but he was still having fun. Jeans Guy awkwardly but effectively worked his way down a blue run on the back side of Sunapee. At the bottom, he was asked why he was going skiing in jeans.

He's from Pennsylvania and his ski gear was at home. Jeans Guy laughed heartily when he was asked about the jeans.

"I looked at the ski pants and they wanted $60 for the cheapest pair," he said. "I'm not going to spend that for one day of skiing."

The man has a point. You wear ski pants maybe 10 times a year; why should they cost four times more than a nice pair of Lee jeans that you wear 50 times a year?

Still, you need to be warm or you're not going to have a good day. There were other questionable clothing decisions at Sunapee on Saturday. A young woman was skiing with no helmet and no ski hat, just her hair in a blonde ponytail. A decent snowboarder was ripping down the hill in sweatpants caked in wet snow.

Lori Rowell has seen it all. She grew up skiing in Vermont and works in marketing at Pat's Peak in Henniker. Weekend warriors have the option to rent ski pants and jackets at Pat's Peak, though the ski area doesn't advertise the service. Still, Jeans Guy regularly shows up at Pat's Peak, sometimes wearing a poorly insulated Starter jacket.

"For some reason, some people think they'll be fine if they just wear jeans," Rowell said. "What happens is you can't pull the bottom of your jeans over the ski boots, so you have to tuck them into the boots. Then what happens? Your feet go numb and you're not going to like skiing."

This is not a fashion issue. Some people wear full-body snow suits and others have fur-lined jackets. I don't understand either choice but at least they do two things. They keep you warm and they keep you dry.

If you're Jeans Guy or someone you know is contemplating becoming Jeans Guy, you should know this: You will not be warm and you will most likely not be dry. And you can rent winter clothing right off the Internet (and, sometimes, at a rental shop).

A guy on a beginner's ski hill once told me he didn't want to commit to buying snow pants because he wasn't sure he was going to like skiing. Who in their right mind is going to like skiing when their legs are painfully cold?

Michelle Isner and Melissa Page rode up a chairlift at Mount Sunapee and shook their heads when the topic of Jeans Guy came up. They'd seen a skier wearing windpants who was clearly having a bad day. With no insulation, anybody could be miserable. Having no fun on a ski hill? Don't be That Guy.

James Patrick's Slopeside column appears on Fridays during the ski season. He also chips in on the Ski Page in NHWeekend on Thursdays.
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