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by Ambassador Lainey Severson
The familiar trees rush by my windows as I round soft bend after soft bend. The landscape changed over the summer thanks to the 416 fire that threatened my town, but it’s still as beautiful as ever. This time, though, it might be even prettier. The brown, dead grass remains along the roadside, but way up in the Needles, streaks of white snow breakup the ark rock. With each mile, my blood pumps faster, anticipating the moment I pull into the lot, park my car, put on my ski boots, and head towards the slopes for the first day of the season.
Attending Opening Day at any mountain is a great time, but there’s something extra special about it being your local hill. Over the years, I have hit the slopes for the first day countless times at numerous locations. They’re all fun, all awesome days, and all worth attending, but my favorites have been, and probably always will be, the local hill opening.
Skiing and/or snowboarding is an essential part of winter in my household. My brothers and I were lucky to get put on our first pair of skis at the young age of 3 or 4 years old. I can honestly say I never realized how unique that was until I got older and met more people who had never been on the slopes before because they’re parents didn’t ride. Ski season is never over in my household either. It wasn’t uncommon to go ski shopping on Memorial Day, Columbus Day, even the Fourth of July! But nothing really compared to the first day. Sure, there were plenty of days yelling at each other while getting ready and more than a few tears, but Opening Day always has this bright, happy aura around it.
The best Opening Day to date was back in 2012. My middle brother and I were allowed to skip school to head to Gunstock (located in the beautiful White Mountains of New Hampshire)… Thanks mom and dad! I believe there were only about two or three trails open, and they were ICY. When I say icy, I don’t mean New England packed powder or the “icy” conditions Coloradans refer to as ice. I’m talking about straight porcelain. “Skiing the toilet bowl,” as the ski school called it back during my teaching days. But man, we had so much fun. There was something about driving up there, just two siblings, on a day when we were supposed to be sitting in school. I’m pretty sure it was a cold day too, so we only did a half-day, but that was all we needed to get our fix. No one was out there except us, a few employees, and a handful of other brave season pass holders. Was it the best day in the world? Absolutely not, but it was so much fun and a great bonding day.
This year’s Opening Day at my home resort in Colorado could not have been more different. It was about 50 degrees, maybe warmer when I arrived. Purgatory said there were five trails open, but we all know that means one top-to-bottom run that’s segmented into different trails. After a terrible snow season last year, it was a fairly quiet morning on the slopes until right around lunchtime when people caught wind in town about how nice the conditions were. I was there alone, and only for a brief amount of time, but it was the perfect way to kickoff what is bound it be an incredible season.
I can tell you all about what Opening Day is like when it comes to conditions, open trails, crowds, etc. What I can’t tell you about is the feeling of coming home after being gone for too long. This year, it was eight months between my last day and my first day. But the wait is half of what makes Opening Day so special. Counting down the days, getting gear ready, and making plans with friends builds the excitement. A sense of community is built when you run into a fellow skier or snowboarder also waiting for Opening Day. The people out for Opening Day are typically the most excited people you will run into, whether they are local or just visiting. They came out, regardless of the conditions, who they were with, or how long they would be out there, just to get those first few runs in. They’ll likely be the same people out on the last day of the season, bidding winter goodbye until the next season starts again.
Find some of that magic again at the Jamboree weekend:
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