Charles Agar: Snow gods love locals
April 23, 2009
I hate to prosper from anyone’s misfortune, especially eager Front Range skiers stranded on treacherous roads. But I didn’t complain when 38 inches of snow fell on Winter Park Resort over two days last week and Berthoud Pass was closed. I can’t help thinking it was a heaven-sent local’s appreciation day to end the season.
On Friday morning I joined a rat pack of skiers on Park-side mogul runs loaded with so much snow (12 inches) that the big bumps were buried flat and the forgiving fluff allowed us incredible top-to-bottom runs.
Then I made seven heavenly laps on the Eagle Wind chair, screaming through pristine fields as I harvested tracks farther and farther skier’s left on the wide, steep drop. Some of the best powder turns I’ve made in my life.
I skied until I was exhausted, my beard a massive iceberg around a wide perma-grin. And after a night of rest, sustenance and watching more snowfall, Saturday was a bonanza of 22 more inches all to ourselves and some mind-blowing turns.
Front Rangers came up to get what was left on Sunday – closing day – and to take part in one of Winter Park’s greatest dare-to-be-weird traditions: Spring Splash. It’s when grown men and women wearing anything from skivvies to elaborate costumes ski and ride through an obstacle course and splash into a frigid pool in front of a cheering crowd.
I’d always wanted to try it (Winter Park was first and now every resort has a version), but found an excuse every year. I mentioned making the leap in a recent column, however, and felt I had to follow through.
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I was number 99 out of 100, and during the long wait I watched body after flailing-and-gyrating body drop into the frigid pond at high speed, then shiver and crawl out of the drink. I started to wonder how I could get out of it. Maybe fake an injury? A work emergency? Summon a freak thunderstorm?
When my turn came, I was clad in the same gear I wear on any ski day and I was all business. I got through the obstacles, raised my arms high at the top of the drop and aimed for the big puddle.
I made a few turns to check my speed before the big leap, leaving me no hope of crossing the pond, and a friend of mine captured a photo of me in a little-girl-scared-of-a-snake pose as I entered the water. But I did it, scratched another item off my “bucket list” and said a hearty thank you to the snow gods for a great ski season.
Charles Agar believes there is some manifest destiny to living this side of Berthoud Pass. Contact him at email@example.com