Fun in the Snow

The start of the New Year has been pretty good for us with regards to snowfall; about 4 1/2 feet have fallen in Vail and Beaver Creek in the first 2 weeks of the year. The only problem is that is always seems to fall on the weekdays, when I am work. This week it was all at the early part of the week, as the “Pineapple Express” wrapped up its visit to the Southwest. All of the rain in southern California you heard about last weekend, and the tons of snow in the Sierra, that was all part of the same weather system, which originates in Hawaii (hence the nickname). It’s nice to get that moisture, but it comes with warmer temperatures as well, we even had rain in the valley, and highs in the mid to upper 30’s. We had a cooler last couple of days, which hardened up the snow a little, but there were still some pockets of great snow on the slopes. I spend Saturday over at Vail, trying to find the pockets of good snow there, most of which were either in the far out bowls (Siberia and Mongolia Bowls) or on the steepest runs, because they get a lot less traffic than other parts of the mountain. Inner Mongolia Bowl actually was really nice, it was mostly windblown, but enough to create a nice surface to carve some wide Giant Slalom type turns through, which was a lot of fun. The crowds started picking up in the Back Bowls, and especially in Blue Sky Basin, as the morning changed to afternoon so I switched over to the front side where the lines were actually starting to thin out a little bit in a couple of places. It was a pretty full day on the mountain, not just because of the amount of runs I took, but the crowds as well. From the Vista Bahn the view of the frontage road was just a line of cars parked along it as far as you could see before the mountain cut off the view. It was a fun day, after which I met up with a bunch of my friends from Denver to watch the Honda Session at Vail. The Session is a snowboard competition, where there is an overall time limit and competitors get as many runs as they can in that time frame to score enough points to win. First was the Women’s Rails, followed by the Men’s Slopestyle. The terms “Women” and “Men” should be used loosely, as most of the competitors were only about 17 years old! In fact the winner of the Men’s competition is only 18, but already a world famous icon of his sport, Shaun White. He won the $30,000 prize on a run that featured 4 straight jumps with 900 degrees of rotation, it was amazing. He followed it up with three 900’s and a 1080, but fell on the rail portion on that run and had to “settle” for his earlier score of 97 to win. It’s amazing to see these athletes compete live, and to think of how young they all are makes it that much more incredible.

Everyone that came up for the competition stayed in the valley, my friends Jake and Sara stayed with me, and we went out for pizza at my favorite local pizza place for dinner. We all went to Beaver Creek on Sunday where we met up with Karlin and Wells who came up for the day. We took it easy, getting a few runs in and then having a great lunch at the Beaver Creek Chophouse, which is much more affordable at lunch that dinner. The on-mountain dinning is so expensive anyway; I think it’s like $8 for a bowl of chili, so the $10 burgers and $15 ribs at the Chophouse are much more worthwhile. Even though we didn’t get a lot of runs in, we had a good time hanging out on the mountain all day. Pretty much any day you spend on the slopes is better than most anything else you could be doing. It was a pretty good weekend on the slopes, hopefully the work week goes fast so we can do it all over again.