As some of you may have noticed, we’re kinda hurtin’ for snow these days, at least on the Front Range. Denver is looking at its latest-ever first snow, and green grass in December just doesn’t sit right for those of us in colder climes. Seeing reports of 100+ inches in Alaska, or even as close as Wolf Creek in Southern Colorado serves only to make the mouth water, but it is just the first week of December after all. In any case, as someone paying good money for the privilege of being carried up the mountain by a chairlift, it’s an awful feeling to look at the snow report leading up to the day and see a lack of base depth with no snow on the horizon.
Well, intrepid powderhound, this is precisely where diversifying and reframing your expectations as to what skiing can be comes in handy. Even if there isn’t fresh powder to slay on each run, there is still plenty you can do to make the day a memorable one.
Let’s start with the most obvious:
Work on your technique
I know, I know – you, the reader, probably have perfect form. We all do. But, like anything in life, we can certainly improve on that. When the moguls are too bony, littered with bamboo poles and the moaning, lifeless bodies of those foolish enough to ski them (kidding of course, but you get my point), it represents the perfect opportunity to focus instead on the groomers. While it’s not the same as crushing pow, a nice, long set of carving turns can be pretty darn satisfying. Your author is not going to pretend that he can teach you how to carve within the context of this blog, but there are tons of resources on YouTube that can help prime your mind and expand your technique for the next time you find yourself on the hill.
If you know a handful of French, you’ve probably wondered whether corduroy is indeed the “cord of the king”. Well, here’s some news: it’s a false etymology, but that doesn’t change the fact that, racing aside, it’s the absolute best surface to work on your carving! There are obviously many benefits to getting up early, but one in the realm of skiing is that you can score a few runs down that lovely, lined surface before it gets scoured by the masses. Nice corduroy combined with a desire to improve one’s skill can turn even the most banal green run into an adventure, and it pays to get off the beaten path too. Plus, you might find parts of the mountain you never knew existed, which is always a bonus.
To many purists, the terrain park is seen as both a waste of space as well as a great way to injure yourself and prematurely end your season. So, let’s preface this by stating that, if you’re unsure, stay the hell out of there! For those that feel a bit more confident and have the proper safety gear (WEAR A HELMET!), the terrain park is a great place to expand your skills. Even the most basic jumps are great for understanding better the physics of skiing/riding, and it can be quite the rush to catch some sick air. I’d caution heavily against any rails that are not boxes, but you can get mad cred from the park rats just riding down the basic box structures that are features on most terrain parks. That being said, it is always a place to exercise caution, both from your own actions, but also those from other folks who may be a bit over their heads and consequently, a bit out of control.
Après-ski, during the day
If none of these three suggestions sound appealing, the last option is to just take a lazy run here and there, and otherwise hang out in a cozy lodge. While COVID restrictions have kept us out of many of the best places over the last year, we hope that those will clear up so you have a place to get a nice mug of cocoa and watch the day go by.