Skiers are a superstitious lot. At least this skier is. To wit: On Friday, December 7, I heard a hint that the snow was coming. You know, the snow that we, the skier faithful knew would come, but, nonetheless was elusive enough to make us impatient.
But I’m just the right amount of superstitious and faithful to take action, just to be sure. So, I washed my car—at the fancy car wash, which sells a five-dollar upgrade that allows you to come back once a day for two days, in case of a storm. But I knew I’d be too busy skiing on fresh powder to return/knew that buying it would tempt the snow gods to withhold, so I didn’t upgrade. Just the $12 wash for me, thank you. And then, the snow came.
With all that fresh stuff flying out of the sky, I eschewed our usual Opening Day Breakfast at Snow Park Lodge—too time consuming. I grabbed a protein bar, and tapped my foot impatiently as my kids ate their toaster waffles and my husband ate his cereal. I realized, in that moment, that if I want to get on the hill early on opening day, I have to make a game of it: “I have an idea, guys: Who wants to try to make first chair with me next year on opening day?” I asked. Lance started to explain to me, in perfectly articulated 9 year-old logic, the sixteen ways that it would be logistically impossible, that ski patrol gets first chair, and what if someone is in the next lane in the lift-line corral at the same time as us? Seth, 5, saw the opportunity to please: “Mommy, I’m in!!” I began to fantasize about getting up at 6, being in the car by 7, and tucking into breakfast in Snow Park before the slopes opened. I’m certain it looks better in my mind’s eye than it will when we attempt it. Regardless, Jeff busted me out of the reverie: It was time to dress and load. Annnd….we were off.
Even the drive to the mountain was exciting—the roads, which had been completely clear the night before, had switched, overnight, to snow-covered loveliness. “See? I washed the car!!” I gloated to my husband. “I did it! It worked!”
Once we arrived, it felt like the first day of school, or summer camp. All the familiar faces, the giddy mood that permeated every corner of the resort. The ski valets, usually speedy to offer help, were giving their best impression of the ‘lightning round’. I hadn’t even gotten out of the car and someone was unloading the gear.
We assembled ourselves and headed for our ritual first run on Wide West—the kids’ request. I was about to protest, and then I realized something. I turned to Jeff and said, “I’ll be so sad when they don’t want to make Wide West their first run of the season anymore,” I said. He nodded with a certain solemn understanding. And that, friends, was the only solemn moment of the day. We were, in a word, unstoppable. We did runs on the Racecourse. Runs on Candyland. And then, after I left them to go visit Celebrity Skifest, they did lap after lap. Jeff reported later that they literally inhaled their pasta, and that he had presided over several races at the mini-course on the hill—even providing the sound-effect countdown beeps. Meanwhile, I was at a race of my own, as a spectator, watching the Celebrity Skifest race. (Stay tuned for my Skifest report.)
I wrapped up my day by skiing from the Skifest tent to Homestake, where I arrived with a giant grin on my face. The grin was so large, a fellow skier asked me what I was so happy about. “What’s not to be happy about? Opening day in the snow…The SNOW!” I shared a chair with a Sharpshooter photographer named Tiger. He’s a local, so we bonded over the thrill of being rewarded for our patience with snow on opening day. (I told him about the car wash, and he thanked me. Locals get it.)
I headed down Success and wondered where the kids and Jeff were at that moment—and then, as I finished my run, I had my answer. I spotted them hauling their gear to ski-check, and called out: “Wooo hoooo!” I was rewarded with three happy grins. “We couldn’t have planned that,” Jeff said. “It’s perfect.”
He’s right. But just to be sure, I think I’ll go wash my car.