The sun was shining and the lifts were cranking at Winter Park Resort for the opening day of the resort's 73rd season on Wednesday, and man does it feel good to be sliding on snow again.
Thanks to 15 inches of fresh this past weekend and a lot of hard work from the Winter Park snowmaking crew, the first chair of the 2012-13 winter season took off at 9 a.m., Nov. 14, with three lucky dudes who get to claim first tracks of the season not to mention bust through a banner that read "we're open!"
The resort had 27 acres of terrain open with the Arrow, Gemini Express, and Endeavor lifts running. The resort even opened two of the beginner terrain parks, Sorensen and Bouncer, with enough features to keep the local park junkies entertained.
Chatting with seasoned vets, locals, and some newcomers while cruising up the lift the excitement for the upcoming winter season was apparent not only among skiers and riders who skipped work to attend the opening day, but also in the attitudes of the staff at the resort.
The lifties and ticket checkers were pumped and talkative and I even got the chance to high-five Winter Park Willie, the resort's moose mascot.
With "Play that Funky Music White Boy" blasting at the base, skiers and riders entered to win new gear at the "Opening Day Giveaway."
Speaking of new gear, I have been noticing that all the new gear for the 2012-2013 season is starting to fill up the shelves at the local ski shops. Time to empty the bank account and add to the quiver.
One of the most awesome things I saw at the resort on opening day was some of the athletes from the National Sports Center for the Disabled ripping up the hill. Talk about being passionate about a sport.
I hear that some of the athletes from the NSCD are even gunning for the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. So keep an eye out because those dedicated athletes you're seeing on the slopes might just be popping up on your TV screen come February 2014.
The season ahead
While 2014 is still a summer away, there are a few things that I will be looking forward to for this season.
The first is more snow. While riding the Cabriolet I was checking out the Jane side. After I wiped the drool away from my chin, I realized it appears to need only one more good storm before it's ready to be ripped.
I keep hearing that the bumps in Jane are the best in North America and I can't wait to put that claim to the test this year.
Side note: One of the best questions I was ever asked while loading lifts at Durango Mountain Resort: "Where do you put the moguls in the summer?" What would your answer be?
Back to the snow, NOAA is reporting a 20 percent chance for some snow on Saturday and a slight chance on Sunday night. I know I sound like a broken record but start doing your snow dances and drinking for Ullr so we can get some more white stuff on the ground.
Other things to be looking forward to for this season are some good X-country and snowshoeing at Devil's Thumb and Snow Mountain Ranches as well as snow on Berthoud and the opening of the Broome Hut. The volunteers have been working diligently to get the hut ready for this season.
You can still volunteer at the hut to get a free night or two and the trail to the hut is still accessible by foot.
For more information about Grand Huts Association or to volunteer check out their website, grandhuts.org.
Also check out Winter Park Resort's mobile app for your cell phone that gives you updates on snow conditions and the like. You can even track your vertical feet for the season. Do I smell a challenge? Or is that the ham sandwich I left in my board pants from last year?
See you all on the slopes.