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.
I love this time of year. The resorts are opening and the holidays are upon us. I think each day I get a new Christmas list from my youngest son, Stefan. Where’s the Sears catalog? When I was a kid, I remember flipping through that catalog of 1000 plus pages and writing down and ear-marking something from every page.
A few weekends ago we enjoyed Park City Mountain Resort’s opening. Unfortunately, Mother Nature did not cooperate. It hit me on opening day as my eldest son requested to ‘be there before 9 a.m.’ and ski in the “precipitation,” that he really is a skier. Or maybe he starting to think skiing with Mom just isn’t the cool thing to do anymore! He asked me if I was going to ski, too and my answer was, “I have skied in many days like today and it makes you a better skier, but Mom gets to choose her ski days now.” He asked me what that meant, and I said, “I have put in my time just as you are beginning to put your time in the bank.” He looked at me with an inquisitive look and walked off.
Thankfully we had a great early snow storm. What do I predict for the upcoming season? That we live in the greatest place, have the greatest mountain to ski, greatest community and we will be the number one resort again after the great snow season that is coming. What’s it called? The “calm before the storm.” Maybe this is the “perfect storm” season brewing. We can only wait and see for now.
I have four days on snow so far and counting. See you on the slopes this weekend!
Opening day found Ski Dad and me racing about the house, getting the kids into base layers, organizing the ski bags, and getting ourselves dressed. We threw a hearty meal of whole grain English muffins with Nutella spread and a banana at the kids, and started pounding water to get a jump on staying hydrated for the day. “I don’t think we will have time for our own breakfast,” said Ski Dad with a hint of mockery in his voice. “We’ll HAVE TO eat there.” “There” is Snow Park Lodge, home to the best breakfast in Park City. Yeah, I reasoned, I could take one for the team.
Ski Dad announced: “I have been waiting all summer for this French Toast.”
Little Guy pulled his extra-special no-holds-barred just-for-mommy separation anxiety fit. I escaped with my last shred of sanity riding the coattails of a wave of guilt. Luckily, I have a second career as a ski slope spy, and I was able to take a peek at a blissfully happy Little Guy on The Magic Carpet, the Snowflake Chairlift, and the Wide West run from my perch on Burns Chair, while delivering Big Guy to his Adventure Club class.
I managed to shoot some video with my spy cam (smart phone), though if the are any developers rereading this blog, an app that enhances a shot with telephoto power would be much appreciated.
Both boys had a blast in ski school. Little Guy’s erstwhile “buddy” Dine Dine, enjoyed the ride from his perch inside Little Guy’s snow suit, head sticking out at the collar.
Little Guy’s report card was filled with check marks on boxes next to sentences including “I had fun.” “I balanced on my skis” “I made wedge turns on my own…” A confidence booster that sent us back to the hill on day 2, thinking he’d show off for Mom and Dad. See the Day 2 report to learn how that worked out.
While the kids are away…Ski Mom and Ski Dad do play.
We have some new pals in Park City, whom we’ve kind of known for years.
Lisa and Dave are new to the area, but I have interviewed Lisa and her brother Josh for stories in which I needed quotes from experts in their respective fields. Several years ago, Josh, who I met first, sent Lisa my way, so I could offer my perspective on relocating to Park City…something she and Dave were strongly considering. Guess what I said? Yup. Do it. They made their move this summer, but it took us until ski season to get together in real time.
But there we were on chairlifts, touring Dave and Lisa around our favorite runs, and catching up with each other on the chairlift rides.
We imposed on the mountain host atop Flagstaff for a snapshot of what turned out to be a fab day of companionable skiing and great conversation.
I can’t remember an opening as great as this one! The weather was perfect, the Celebrity SkiFest was a blast and the skiing was typical Deer Valley style. I took part in the Deer Valley Celebrity SkiFest and got to visit with my ex teammate AJ Kitt (who commentated) and ski against childhood idols Phil and Steve Mahre and ex teammate Tommy Moe. We all had a good time skiing with the guests and showing them some tips for racing. Although the courses weren’t very difficult, they were challenging enough to demand some good skiing and make us be on our game. One of the highlights of the weekend besides beating the boys on the race course was the concert by KT Tunstall at Saturday night’s dinner benefiting the Waterkeeper Alliance. Take a look at http://www.waterkeeper.org/ — it’s a great cause and registers close to me since one of their first water cleanups was the river behind my house in Pittsfield, MA.
As I mentioned in my last blog, the first couple days of skiing always seem to find muscles that haven’t been used all summer. I’m sore and tired! I am looking forward to the rest of the season after this great start. Come ski the conditions are wonderful.
Last night, after we lit the Hanukkah candles, I told my kids what their first night’s gift was.
Yep, ski school for opening day at Deer Valley.
Here’s some video that will show how such an announcement ranks in our house.
Can I just say, it’s a gift for Ski Dad and me, too? Seriously…I cannot remember the last time we took a run as a couple–never mind a whole DAY on the hill sans kids.
Family ski day ensues on Sunday, for those of you concerned about that. Video to follow!