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A snowboarder at the terrain park at Yongpyong resort.
A snowboarder at the terrain park at Yongpyong resort. (Seth Robson / S&S)

YONGPYONG, South Korea — There are thrills and spills for skiers and snowboarders of all abilities at Yongpyong Resort, which routinely hosts organized holiday trips for soldiers and airmen.

A military group with servicemembers from Osan Air Base and Camp Essayons hit the slopes here recently alongside South Korean skiers and snowboarders.

The more adventurous took a 2-mile-long gondola ride to Dragon Peak for a survey of the terrain or a test of their skills on Rainbow Bowl’s steep slopes.

Second Infantry Division Commander, Maj. Gen. John Wood was in fine form negotiating a Rainbow run, but came to grief Saturday morning, wrenching a thumb after hitting a slick patch of man-made ice.

Lt. Col. Jim Stockmoe, commander of Essayons 102nd Military Intelligence Battalion, took a tumble coming off the chairlift. Regardless, he described the view of the mountains and coast from the top of the gondola as “spectacular.”

The two-day trips, sponsored by the United Service Organizations and base recreation departments, cost up to $150 per soldier and included transportation, accommodations, lift passes and gear.

Soldiers find them an easy way to hit the slopes.

“It was like a college trip,” Stockmoe said, referring to accommodations consisting of several three-bedroom condominiums, each housing about 15 soldiers.

The trip was a good way to help soldiers blow off steam in a healthy environment, he said.

“It is about getting the soldiers off of Camp Essayons and letting them experience Korea without the usual going downtown and drinking soju,” he said.

Stockmoe, who’s skied in the United States and Europe, said there’s an Asian flavor to the skiing here. “It seems like the Koreans are into the dressing up,” he said. “They are really into wearing the right gear. Even the most beginner skiers have some advanced looking outfits.”

At Yongpyong’s terrain park, Senior Airmen Ernest Scarborough and D.J. Santana showcased their snowboarding skills on the rails and jumps.

Scarborough warmed up by negotiating a long horizontal rail with a jump at the end before heading for the tabletop, where he pulled off several 180-degree jumps.

Staff Sgt. Jason Moore of 2ID’s Headquarters and Headquarters Company, pulled off snowboard tricks in the half-pipe including 180s, a 360, board slides, “method-airs” and “Indy-airs.”

Moore called conditions good for being so early in the season.

“Most of the slopes are crowded but everybody keeps out of each other’s space except the occasional stray bomber who gets in your way,” he said.

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