Baseball's Ironman. Cal Ripken, used to have to settle for hauling his family's gear. Now he gets to ski.Known throughout the sporting world as baseball's Ironman, Baltimore Oriole icon Cal Ripken recently retired from the diamond after 21 seasons and a record 2,632 consecutive games. In the off-season, Cal and his wife, Kelly, vacation with their children, Rachel (13) and Ryan (9), at the Stein Eriksen Lodge at Deer Valley, Utah. Kelly has skied since she was a child, but because a clause in Cal's baseball contract asked him to "shy away from taking part in risky activities, he annually found himself "carrying skis and working out while his family had all the fun. Last February, Cal made his first turns ever during the inaugural winter of his retirement. Now baseball's most famous shortstop has traded in his glove and bat for skis and boots—and an athletic challenge the 42-year-old has looked forward to for years.
SKI Were you looking forward to learning to ski when you retired from baseball?
CR I've always felt that one of my first acts of retirement would be to head off to the slopes. I've watched my wife and kids ski for many years, and I've always been envious.
SKI What's the hardest part of learning how to ski?
CR The sensation of sliding is very awkward. There have been very few times in my life when I felt uncoordinated, and learning how to ski is one of them. It took me one or two days to start to feel like I had a little control. After that, I started to go downhill pretty well.
SKI If you had to rate your skiing skills as a baseball player, what level would you be?
CR I couldn't even consider myself a role player. I'd have to say a hopeful fan.
SKI Did you watch the Olympics?
CR I had the opportunity to be there the night before competition to address the athletes. Shannon Bahrke asked me to watch her in the mogul competition. I saw her silver medal run, and she was flying. Her legs looked like shock absorbers.
SKI Is it harder to hit a curveball or ski moguls?
CR It's harder for me to ski anything now.
SKI What is it like skiing with Stein?
CR Stein checked me out to see if I could ski and told me to follow his tracks. I found it a little frustrating, being only my second day on skis. He skis so gracefully and effortlessly, and I think it's a real tribute that he can make it look that easy.
SKI Why do you choose skiing over other family vacations?
CR I love that it's a great opportunity for us to do an activity together. My wife and kids really love to ski, and I've always enjoyed being around the skiing atmosphere with them, but I never really had a chance to get out on the mountain. Now we can ski at our own pace together. I think that's kind of cool.
SKI If you and Alex Rodriguez were to ski race, who would win?
CR Has Alex even been on skis? He's down in Miami, so he's probably worse off than I am. I'd have to say that I have the edge on him for now.
SKI Is there any part of your baseball training that translates to skiing?
CR With the exception of being in shape, I've found skiing to be a different type of athleticism. The balance is different.
SKI Do you think you could ski 2,632 days in a row?
CR I don't know if I'd want to.