Step away from the pumpkin pie, skiers and riders. Today’s turns are are fueled by a turkey feast…and the promise of sun. Every minute of sun that is hitting that corduroy is making it just a little bit sweeter.

There’s an inversion up there. It might be cold by the river, but it’s at least 25 degrees warmer up top. That offers the promise of glorious sun shining over delicious early season groomers. Ski them top to bottom. Break in your thighs, and pay your penance for that giant slice of leftover pumpkin pie you ate for breakfast.  There are so many long, fast runs to enjoy. In no time at all, I cruised Heavenly Daze, Buddy’s Run, Sunset, High Noon and Rainbow this morning with my eclectic Alpine, snowboard, freeheel posse.

Mother Nature did her job and gave Steamboat plentiful snow so far this season: 70+ inches. Last week’s pummeling provided a dose of vital ski conditioning as I embraced the shoveling. A lot of shoveling. I feel sufficiently pre-conditioned for face shots.  That’s not what today is about. Today is about fast on-piste skiing, admiring the gaggles of young ski racers who are getting warmed up with a little day-off freeskiing, and making sure you stop by and visit Buddy Werner for a winter blessing.

The ski area’s snow guns have already pumped out more than 50 million gallons. During many November mornings, it transformed our preseason mountain into its own weather planet shrouded in dense clouds, iridescent sundogs and a spray of snowflakes. I wish I had photos of those mornings because the spectacle of our mountain whipped up in a supernatural snowstorm was awe inspiring.  Though I didn’t get pics of that, I did catch a magnificent herd of elk on the Haymaker Golf Course (Haymaker Nordic center opens Dec. 20) rising out of the river cloud this morning.

Elk at Haymaker Golf Course

There’s much to be thankful for as we plow in to another ski season. Steamboat is an incredible place to call home, whether you’re lucky enough to claim it year-round or just for one special week. Every trip to the top of Mount Werner is reaffirming. Arriving above it all is my constant reminder that it’s remarkable to be in Steamboat. Oh, that view over the Yampa Valley … knowing that there are hundreds of thousands of acres of Wilderness in my line of sight, open expanses of gorgeous valley floor that are forever protected as hay meadows, a quaint little downtown bustling with all kinds of ideas and action, people that I love.

View of the Flat Tops from Steamboat Resort

And did I mention the sun? We’re breaking past the freezing temperatures. Soak it in today … we’re honing in on the shortest day of the year and the actual calendar-decreed arrival of winter.

Remember that we do  have a lot of snow, but it’s still early season and you need to be wary of hidden obstacles out there. Don’t let a downed tree end your season early. Do enjoy a beautiful Friday of cruisers on the mountain!

Jennie Lay, Telemark skier

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