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"Lift Lines" is a new series from Aspen Public Radio that shares the joys of winter sports, broadcast throughout the week as part of our morning ski report. Reporter Kaya Williams brings her microphone to the chairlifts, gondolas and trails of the Roaring Fork Valley to ask people why they love sliding on snow.

Lift Lines: Eli Rocha and Luis Deanda

Snowboarders Eli Rocha and Luis Deanda ride the Silver Queen Gondola at Aspen Mountain on Dec. 28.
Kaya Williams
Aspen Public Radio
Snowboarders Eli Rocha and Luis Deanda ride the Silver Queen Gondola at Aspen Mountain on Dec. 28. Rocha is visiting from Miami and Deanda is visiting from Los Angeles for a family and friends trip to Aspen.

It’s the peak of the holiday season this week and Aspen visitors are getting out on the slopes and scraping the rust off for some turns in the fresh snow on the mountains.

But some might have a little more rust to scrape off than others.

Eli Rocha, visiting from Miami, hadn’t snowboarded in 10 years when he hit the slopes of Ajax earlier this week.

A family and friends trip to Aspen seemed like a good occasion to get back out there, especially with some help and encouragement from his friend and more seasoned snowboarder Luis Deanda, who was visiting from Los Angeles.

On a ride up the Silver Queen Gondola after his first run on Wednesday, Rocha was in good spirits, even if it wasn’t the smoothest trip down the mountain on his first go.

“I mean, 99% of the year I work, so this is like my one kind of moment for myself to just be out on the mountain, just hang with family and friends, smile, laugh, fall, get back up and do it all over again,” Rocha said.

For Deanda, the human connection on the slopes is a big part of the allure.

He and his wife really got into the sport while introducing it to their kids, “knowing that it would be something that we would do for the rest of our life together, as a family.”

“More than anything it’s just the community and bonding and spending time with family and friends,” Deanda said. “We know when our kids are off at college, we’ll say, ‘We can all meet in Aspen,’ and everybody will come out and spend time together, doing something fun.”


Kaya Williams is the Edlis Neeson Arts and Culture Reporter at Aspen Public Radio, covering the vibrant creative and cultural scene in Aspen and the Roaring Fork Valley. She studied journalism and history at Boston University, where she also worked for WBUR, WGBH, The Boston Globe and her beloved college newspaper, The Daily Free Press. Williams joins the team after a stint at The Aspen Times, where she reported on Snowmass Village, education, mental health, food, the ski industry, arts and culture and other general assignment stories.