DAVID GREENE, HOST:
OK, this is spring break season, and many people are heading to go skiing in Colorado. They have options. There's downhill skiing, cross-country skiing and, evidently, one other option now - uphill skiing. Marci Krivonen from Aspen Public Radio reports.
MARCI KRIVONEN, BYLINE: It's midday in Aspen, Colo. Uphill skier Chris Lane is on a break from work at a nonprofit. He clicks into his ski bindings.
CHRIS LANE: Good, set to go.
KRIVONEN: And begins his 1,600-vertical-foot journey uphill - on skis. He's going against downhill traffic, so he stays on the side of the ski run.
LANE: We've always gone one of two ways; either this route or we just go straight up. When you go straight up, it wears your legs out faster, but I like that 'cause I like the work out.
KRIVONEN: Like cross-country skis, Lane's boots attach to the binding at the toe. His heels are free for climbing. Synthetic fur skins attached to the bottom of his skis provide traction on the snow. In the winter, Lane stops going to the gym, opting for this outdoor workout instead. Normally, he's out before the sun's up, sliding his skis up groomed trails.
LANE: It's almost relaxing. When I go up in the mornings in the dark, sometimes I'll close my eyes for, like, a minute and just go uphill with my eyes closed for, like, a minute, and it just feels so good.
MAYOR STEVE SKADRON: I skin, I uphill, participate in this hiking up the mountain.
KRIVONEN: Aspen Mayor Steve Skadron has his ski boots on at his desk. He wants to capitalize on his sport and bring mountain culture back to downtown. He worries it's become too upscale, like Beverly Hills and Manhattan.
SKADRON: We have many high-end retailers here, like Prada and Dolce and Gabbana, Valentino. And I'm grateful for their commitment to Aspen. I want to ensure that our downtown mix isn't simply like every other high-end shopping mall.
KRIVONEN: He's working to lure companies to town that specialize in uphill skiing. It's a growing sector of the ski industry, especially among women. Snowsports Industries America reports sales of lightweight skis used in uphill skiing jumped more than 200 percent in one year. Kelly Davis is research director for the trade group.
KELLY DAVIS: If it catches on in mountain towns, I think that, you know, the more resorts all over the country will open up to it. And word will get out and I think that we can look for more growth in this particular category.
KRIVONEN: Still, the number of uphill skiers pales in comparison to the 11 million Americans who downhill ski. And half of all ski resorts in the U.S. don't allow uphill skiing. For some, it's a safety issue.
LANE: I even like the sound
KRIVONEN: Back on the mountain, uphill skier Chris Lane continues his ascent.
LANE: The hypnotic kind of metronome sound of the skis - click, click, click. I love that.
KRIVONEN: The climb is tough, but nothing new for Lane. He huffs and puffs his way uphill on skis four times a week. For NPR News, I'm Marci Krivonen in Aspen.
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