Kudos to the liftie at the top of South Peak who greeted First Tracks skiers with “Love Is The Answer” scrawled on his whiteboard this morning. I’m not sure if that blazing orange message was supposed to be the key to a trivia question I missed down below, but  I’ll embrace the good will and fuzzy sentiment for diving in to a happy new year.

Child skiing

Our family kicked off 2015 by initiating our newest little skier. My 5-year-old niece, Ruby, spent six hours in ski school on New Year’s Day. At the 3 p.m. pick-up, she informed us, “I’m ready to go to the top of the mountain now.”

Then she promptly demonstrated how she’d learned to click in to her skis and spent another two hours walking back up the bunny hill to practice her ripping “pizza” turns. As the alpenglow cast itself over a nearly full moon peeking over the mountain, she finally passed out in her ski boots.

Another ski bum is born.

I spent the morning lapping up all that dry, sugary snow that is keeping our packed powder conditions feeling soft. Cold temperatures demand wearing an extra layer right now and definitely mittens (maybe even with some hand warmers for the kids — an easy lesson I learned the hard way), but those cold temps are keeping December’s barrage of snow oh-so-nice.

Child skiing

The moon will be full by Monday, but watch for it looming large over the slopes in a bluebird sky (which promises to return later today, despite the morning’s high clouds). Looking over the horizon as I screamed a nonstop, top-to-bottom run from Storm Peak, via Rainbow and Vagabond, to the base, I noted that the pines look like a carpet of frosting.

During the past couple days, my 8-year-old nephew, Trent, who earned his pizza-turn initiation at KVC a couple years ago, led the charge down Tomahawk, Quicksilver and High Noon. He even scored his first black diamond (which may or may not have been the result of a wrong turn) on Lower Valley View. 

Trent and I concur: the packed powder is downright fun everywhere you go.

Child tubing

For me, this has been an extra special Steamboat week. I’m enjoying my hometown through the eyes of kids, and I am reminded of the magic. We cheered for fireworks, soaked ourselves silly while supervising at least a hundred climbs up the rock wall at the Old Town Hot Springs and shared monumental giggles on Yee Haw Hill while snow tubing at Saddleback Ranch. We’ve had snowball fights, gorged on bags of candy, marveled at Howelsen Hill’s ski jumps and chilled out with hot chocolate and storytime at the Bud Werner Memorial Library.

I’m heading back up the hill now for lots more soft turns, family laughs and shredding Wally World. It also looks like I’m destined for an all-evening session on the hot springs waterslides tonight. You really have to love Steamboat with kids!

Jennie Lay, Telemark skier

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