Small Town Mountain
Good morning skiers and riders. It’s a gorgeous day in the ‘Boat! Sunshine, snow and 3 inches of fresh powder have the smiles frozen to everyone’s faces today, and the mountain has that Saturday feeling of small town and old friends. Brisk but not freezing, the early morning runs provided untracked “freshies” all the way down Rudi’s and Norther. The snow is floatable, carve-able and falling from the sky against a hazy backdrop of fledgling sunshine. On most runs, skiers have the choice between flawless corduroy and untracked freshies. By midday, I imagine there will be a good inversion making mid and upper mountain pleasantly warm and soft.
Admittedly, this is my first day skiing. After a Saguaro filled week in Arizona, it’s good to be back in wintertime, to be surrounded by old sounds like the swoosh of skis on snow, bits of Winter Sports Club coaching, the rattle and squeak of chairlift wheels, the silence of heavy trees. The happy lift operators and friendly early-bird crowd build the perfect atmosphere of Steamboat hospitality.
As the day progressed, sunshine rose, and mid-morning approached, fresh groom stole the spotlight from the fleeting early morning Champagne Powder. Upper Rainbow was fast and uncrowded until a fleet of Winter Sports Club racers overtook me in perfect form. I’m still astounded at the high level skiing of the local youth racers, and SSWSC practice on the new lower mountain race course will be a sight to see.
My quick egress on Heavenly Daze was soft and push-piley, just skied enough to satiate my craving for a bump run and empty enough to ski fast. The valley is clear and pristine today, offering a perfect view of winter pastures and even an early morning hot air balloon. It’s hard not to stop and enjoy the Flattops and Sleeping Giant on either side of the vast valley floor.
This morning I learned about ski dogs. Before the lifts open, a good number of people hike the mountain with their pups. Nigel the golden retriever was waiting at the top of the gondola for a pet from a Ski Patrol-er before his gondola ride down the mountain. Many other dogs chased their owners as they skied down Heavenly Daze. The hike up is a great workout for both man and dog and running down the soft even groom is great for puppy paws.
Willow Fitzgerald, Telemark skier
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