Let the 2011-12 Ski Season Begin!

I have been doing squats since July. I started with 100, moved to 150 in August, and finally started doing 200 a day at the end of September. I mention this boring anecdote about my personal exercise because the only reason I have been so disciplined in trying to wreck my knees was for the start of ski season. No huffing, puffing, and grabbing at my fiery quads for me on the first day hitting the slopes–not this year!

At long last, I can ditch the routine. Ski season started in Colorado as of Thursday. Well, actually, it only started in northern-central Colorado as of Thursday. Wolf Creek, a good nine hour or so drive south of Denver, opened up last weekend. And anyway, we missed opening day at Arapahoe Basin because we had a radio show and a sick cat who needed a trip to the vet…excuses, excuses, I know.

A-Basin’s unexpectedly early opening on October 13th (last year, no resort opened until October 22nd) doubtlessly prompted Loveland to open the next day. The two resorts have an ongoing rivalry as to who can open first in a given season, with Loveland beating A-Basin for the past two years. Whichever one opened first wasn’t terribly important, however, as Ethan and I have passes that cover both A-Basin and  Loveland. At 8 a.m. on Friday, I was poking Ethan in the forehead and breathlessly shouting, “I know there’s only one run open and the snow’s really gonna suck, but SKIING!” And indeed, there was one chairlift and one run open, and the 18″ base was entirely slush in the 60-degree weather, but in its own way, it was awesome.

There was no amount of squats that could have prepared me for the advent of the ski season, however. My quads, calves, feet, and all their neighbors were screaming at me from the first run, only some of whose complaints could be attributed to the brand-new pair of ski boots I’m still breaking in (YOU try moving around in a pair of feet-shaped bowling balls that are just a little too small for your feet by design for four hours. Go on. Try it. Don’t send me the pictures or the recordings of your agonized screams, please.). And yet, it was inexplicably glorious. Being able to look out at some of the most glorious backdrops in the whole country during breaks, moving my feet in the only way they ever feel elegant and sure of themselves, the crisp feel of the air–it was such an incredible feeling, we could only agree to come back the next day.

Well, not quite come back. We went to A-Basin today to check out the other run open in this part of the state. The last time we’d visited was on July 4th, where the snow held out just long enough to allow one hilarious holiday that was more about snowball fights on the chairlift than about skiing. The snow covering had gotten down to 18″, the temperatures got up in the low seventies, and the snow was the consistency of poorly cooked mashed potatoes.

102 days later (A-Basin’s website boasted that they’d only had 100 days between closing in July and re-opening in October, a fact some mental math undertaken while standing in the lengthy lift line confirmed), the temperature spiked in the seventies, the base was all of 18″, and the snow was the consistency of frozen mashed potatoes that hadn’t been allowed to thaw for long enough. To illustrate that A-Basin might well have stopped time after the lift shut down on July 4th and only started up again two days ago, here are some pictures:

Notice the sweet knee brace and the lighting that makes it appear as though I have no teeth.
July 4th, 2011

Compare that to this one from today:

Also, I still appear not to have teeth. BTW, proper ski posture *does* make you look like you're taking a dump.
October 15th, 2011

For all I know, they just secreted all 18 inches of that wonderful white goop from last year away in a dark cave somewhere and…hey. HEY. If you want to start thinking and acting on dirty thoughts, go click on that other tab you have open.

Anyway, now that I’ve overthrown the oppressive regime of squats, I have to start skiing in earnest. As more terrain opens up, I plan to get a helmet cam so I can start uploading videos of my exploits and linking them here. This won’t be much of a problem–typically, after about two beers and some light teasing from my male cousins, I can take a look at something like this and think, “Pssssh. That’s for pussies. I’ll show them who’s boss!” It’s truly amazing that I haven’t yet needed to have every bone in my body replaced with something titanium-lined.

Stay tuned for more drama as the year goes on–I’ll likely be interspersing stories of my latest encounters with the great outdoors with fond memories of incidents past and the occasional rant. In short, business as usual.

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