Skiers Love Opening Days. Don’t Miss Yours!
It was relatively easy to find my stuff. You know- the skis, the helmet, the boot bag, the boots, the neck gaiter, the goggles, gloves and the pass. After all, it’s only been seven months since last I gathered them. Rachael and I pulled into the Brighton Resort parking lot at the crack of noon. Okay, so maybe it was closer to 1 but this was one of those opening days. There are like three lifts and four trails to ski. After a few runs you’re done anyway. The wind was kicking up a mist of snow and ice particles and buffeting our car. We looked at each other. If it was any other day but opening day we might have turned around and gone home. But this day is different; unique. It signals to all the world as well as to the atoms in your body that this is the first day of the ski season.
You Can Relax On Opening Days
When you’re getting your ski legs under you, there’s no better time than opening day. Everyone is in the same boat. If I started 10 days into the season I’d be the lame one surrounded by those who had a week to warm up. This day, we are all a bit rusty.
You know what I’m talking about. As you ride that chair lift you wonder, “Will I remember how to turn?”, “How sharp were my edges at the end of last season?”, “Is there any natural snow left or am I just skiing on man made at this point?”, “Do I remember what to do if I hit an icy patch?”, “Am I in shape?” Despite being plagued with these newbie questions, however, there’s one thing that stands out about opening day. That day is all you.
You drop everything to be there. Even as you make those turns with those questions in your head, they’re all questions pertinent to that very moment. You’re not thinking about homework; about accounting; about phone calls you need to make. All you’re thinking about is that moment on the hill… and there is no better moment no matter what the snow conditions. Opening days are also a time to reconnect with your ski buddies; the ones who mysteriously disappear after the mountains close.
Detes of the Day
We hit the Explorer Lift for a warmup. It was damn chilly after the unseasonably warm weather just a few days prior. The runs were wide open as most of the opening-day riders actually caught the first chair of the morning. They had come and gone by now. There was no waiting in line. There was no fighting for a spot on the hill. Don’t get me wrong. It’s Brighton so there were the occasional buzzes by rushing snowboarders. But definitely not as scary as it would have been at 10 a.m. The run was firm but still grippy. There were icy patches but in most places we had purchase. After our fourth lap we even darted through a shot down an ungroomed area. There were little land mines (aka rocks) everywhere and if you didn’t pull back on the throttle you were destined for base damage. But where you avoided those rocks, you had soft, natural, teasingly good snow.
I played around with my turns. Long, short, fast, slow, wedges, outside foot weighting. In the days to come I’ll worry about my knees, my hands; am I looking ahead enough. All sorts of things are starting to come back to me; an inner ski dialog I haven’t had with myself since April. It’s my ski instructor’s brain firing up.
It was a late start not just today but for the season in general. I was making the same turns, on the same runs, one month earlier last season. The Utah resorts decided to bide their time and open when they could count on more consistency in the weather. That time is here.
What’s to Come
Alta and Snowbird already had their opening days. Park City’s opening day is Saturday and the rest of the resorts (except for Deer Valley) should be open by the end of next week. The season is here and all we can do is make turns on what’s available and do a little snow dance, praying to the snow gods. More storm systems are starting to roll in and we do have that precious time to work our way back into ski shape before we’re charging Peruvian laps off the Hidden Peak Tram.
Oh, and one more thing about opening days- You get to find the things you’ve been looking for all summer. Like your iPod, buried in a pocket of your stowed-away ski jacket.