The ski season has officially begun as Whiteface Mountain opened for the season over Thanksgiving weekend. I'm no Andrew Weibrecht, (Super G bronze medalist, USA, 2010) but I can hold my own on the slopes.
With that said, the opening weekend at Whiteface was fantastic - mainly due to a great effort by the mountain's staff since to date Mother Nature hasn't been very cooperative providing natural snow. She DID, however, provide 14 inches of much-needed snow a day before Thanksgiving. That really made a big difference.
Now, to the slopes.
I arrived to the mountain rather late at 10 a.m. on Friday, which was balmy with temperatures in the 50s - way too warm for a first day of skiing. But the crowd on hand seemed happy to be back on the hill, as was I.
Usually my game plan is to cruise a lot on the first day to get my ski legs going and hitting the bumps isn't an option. However, on this day, by the time I was making my first run, the snow had slushed up to spring-like conditions and there were bumps galore.
In years past, I might have zig-zagged my way down, gotten tired way too fast and not enjoyed the skiing. But there's something different - almost magical - about that first day of the ski season.
OK, that first run was tough and when I got to the base, my legs were already tired. But this was the first day of skiing and there wasn't any quit in me. By the third run, I was totally torn from tradition and plowing through the soft snow and the many bumps were becoming more and more fun.
Each spring when the bumps are soft, I practice and think to myself, "Hit these bumps and remember what you were doing so you get better next season." Then next season comes, and I've forgotten all the lessons learned on that soft snow.
This year will be different. I've gotten the "bump jitters" out of my system and can't wait to get back on the hill to maintain the flow of the bumps.
All through the day on Nov. 25, I heard skiers and snowboarders laughing and swooshing through the snow. It was good to be back.
I'll admit that only one major snowfall prior to opening day and the forecast for warm temperatures over Thanksgiving weekend had me concerned. But as it turned out, the mountain's ski conditions provided ample enjoyment - and better yet, I will be ready to test myself even more on the more challenging terrain at Whiteface - and maybe even hit some bumps with more regularity. So you see, thinking the ski conditions aren't good enough, is a false state of mind.
I'm no Alexandre Bilodeau (Canada, 2010 gold medal mogul skier), but I'm getting better.
Thanks to all the folks at Whiteface Mountain who worked so hard to get the mountain ready for the season. Now all of us snow enthusiasts must band together and Think Snow, pray to the "snow gods" and get Mother Nature to do her "winter thing."
I think there's some flakes falling now. See you on the slopes.