Highlights: Ten weeks and counting until ski season is here

A bluebird powder day in Aspen always ignites local crowds and guests alike.
File photo

I don’t often give accessories to Vail, but the mothership of American skiing has me dreaming for the upcoming season.

And this is a good thing. It happened Monday night during the Broncos game – which is another story for another time – when an advertisement for Epic Pass appeared during the ESPN broadcast. The ad showed a group of skiers performing dramatic turns in Vail’s Back Bowls in pristine powder. It was maybe 15 seconds of video, but it was enough to get the juices flowing for sure.

We have maybe ten weeks left, or actually 69 days if you count (and I am) before the big wheels start spinning on the ski lifts, but that’s plenty of time to start preparing for the ski season. Within the next 10 weeks will come the time when the first snow will show on the high peaks.

We will have the race to get back in shape, either in class or alone at home. We will have the first snow in town and hopefully the first dump to get the slopes in good ski condition. There’s a lot to look forward to this winter here in Aspen.

Start with opening day on November 24; it would be Thanksgiving Thursday. How lucky are we to live in a city with an “opening day”? In most places, the calendar turns from page to page, day to day with nothing special except for Cinco de Mayo and St. Patdies Day.

But, we have a real annual reason to get dizzy on the last Thursday of November. (I mean, besides Thanksgiving.) We have “OPENING DAY”. This ski season will also mark the return of the White Circus, when the FIS Alpine Skiing World Cup returns to Aspen Mountain and America’s Downhill course. The Ruthies and Aztec and Spring courses will once again be filled with spectators – like never before – to watch the fastest skiers in the world hurtle down the mountain on the first weekend of March.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the X Games, but the purity and history of racing on Aspen Mountain brings a different vibe to the city – and a different crowd.

This place wouldn’t be where it is today if Dick Durrance hadn’t flown to Europe in 1949 to convince the powerhouses of the day that Aspen had what it took to host the FIS Championships. from 1950. Today, more than 70 years later, we welcome the best skiers from Austria, Switzerland, France and more to our slopes.

And then there’s the opening of “The Backyard”, Buttermilk’s new and improved base building. Personally, I don’t know why they’re changing the name, I liked Bumps, but the space itself was getting a bit long in the tooth. Many of you never make it to Buttermilk; it is the “forgotten” mountain. But, those of us who like to ski Tiehack can’t wait to see what $23 million – the cost of a first West End home – will do to enhance the experience in what will inevitably be called “the old Bumps”. Whatever they call it, Henrietta will, as always, make sure the food is great. Looking forward to my first beer at The Backyard.

Each ski season brings its own personality. Some are colder than others, some have more – or less – snow, and others are, to use that Vail-registered word, epic. We who live here are just lucky to have something so special to look forward to. Ten weeks and counting.

About Robert James

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