Patience, Winter Park, the pow will come
November 26, 2008
There’s no rushing Ullr, the Norse god of snow.
Most local skiers and snowboarders are dying for the freshies, and ski area staff are probably pulling their hair out over meteorological charts and annual budgets. But I believe there’s one thing for certain: The flakes will come when they come.
I have no superstitions about weather and don’t hold, as many do, that talking about snow (or the lack thereof) is any kind of jinx. Weather ranks just above the stock market, traffic and Chuck Norris on my list of things I can’t control.
Last year about this time the slopes were dry, and many predicted a “no snow” winter much like the tragic 1976-1977 season (they knew about recession back then too). But come December, we were up to ears in dump after dump.
During preseason in many ski towns, locals hold impromptu Ullr-fests, making bonfires out of old skis and dancing until dawn to appease the snow god. And while I’m all for schnapps-fueled, pseudo-pagan, half-naked revelry, I believe there’s just no forcing Ullr, Mother Nature or any other deity to unload the fluffy bounty.
Instead, I’m practicing patience and adapting to what we’ve got.
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The two crusty, crowded runs at Winter Park thrilled me for about the first 30 minutes on opening day ” it was just great to be out on skis again.
But in order to make it interesting, I’ve dusted off a beat up old telemark setup I made last year. I rock antique leather boots from a used sports store, and my tele skis are an early Rossignol Bandit model that came out of a Dumpster (I screwed on some Riva bindings off a Day-Glo pair of 205-centimeter Kazamas).
On the Saturday after opening day, having seen the traffic pouring into Winter Park from the Front Range, my girlfriend and I decided to steer clear of the ski area entirely, and instead took a short hike in Gore Canyon.
It was warm as a spring afternoon, and apart from two hearty fishermen wading in the Colorado, we had the entire canyon and views of the rushing whitewater to ourselves.
But starting on Sunday, and in the warm mid-day hours each day this week, I’ve been sneaking out to practice telemark skiing.
I say “sneaking out” because I don’t really know how to do it yet. I can turn left … sort of. And I don’t call any friends because I’m embarrassed to look like a newborn giraffe on skis. My plan is to pick it up on my own.
I don’t remember learning how to alpine ski at age 4, but now on teles I find myself in a hands-to-ankles gorilla crouch yelling “Look out!” on crowded catwalks. And as a result I understand what it’s like for the guy in jeans, Denver Broncos skiwear and rental boards who take up snowsports in their 30s.
So until the snow falls for real (and it’s forecast for today), I don’t mind wasting a few more afternoons wobbling down the beginner’s hill. I look at it as a down payment on late-season telemark skiing in the backcountry.
Just a warning, though. If you see a guy dancing half-naked around a bonfire of skis some night, don’t be alarmed. I figure anything might help.
” Charles Agar is a freelance writer and videographer who, despite a spiraling economy and the serious need for work, is adjusting priorities and is well on the way to 100 days of skiing this season. Contact him with any telemark hints at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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