Tom Ross' column appears Tuesdays and Saturdays in Steamboat Today. Contact him at 970-871-4205 or tross@SteamboatToday.com.
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Steamboat Springs The autumn of 1975 was exceptionally dry in the Yampa Valley. We didn't see a cloud during September, and it wasn't much different in October.
My roommates, Mark Skeie and Mark Meany, and I were desperate for snow. In a vain effort to hasten winter, we went out into the backyard behind Pine Grove Apartments and built a grass slalom course. Feel free to try this yourselves this weekend if the spirit moves you.
Back in '75, we stabbed our ski poles into the grass, creating a couple of sharp turns out of the fall line and one short flush. Then we sprinted through the slalom in a crouched position. We imagined that we were Henri Duvillard.
What? You never heard of the great French ski racer Henri Duvillard? OK, you can be Tamara McKinney. Or, if you're really a young whippersnapper, you can be Ted Ligety.
The point is, we all have to find something to keep us from going bonkers until ski season begins Nov. 30. In that spirit, I offer 15 things to do until ski season begins.
2. If running around slalom poles in the backyard sounds beneath your dignity, you could be playing golf at Yampa Valley Golf Course in Craig this weekend. Ann Marie Roberts said the course hosted 60 rounds on Friday. There's nothing unusual about Thanksgiving golf in Moffat County.
"There have been times we've played through the entire month of November," Roberts said. If you're interested, greens fees are $32 to walk 18 holes and $44 with a cart.
You're allowed three Mulligans if you golf in your ski boots. I promise.
3. Faithful reader Bill Sanders said if this were Hawaii (which it is not) he would be burning an old surfboard in a sacrifice to the surf gods meant to bring ocean swells.
In that spirit, you might consider pulling a pair of old skis out of the garage and inviting the neighbors over for a pagan ski torching ceremony and weenie roast. Just make sure to call the city fire marshal in advance for an open fire permit. I'm sure he'll understand.
4. Put the patio furniture back on the deck. You were a good boy and stashed the Adirondacks in October. Now it's time to pretend it's springtime all over again. Mix up a big batch of sangria and put the Beach Boys in the iPod dock.
5. Stalk a state record northern at Stagecoach State Park. Were you aware that Rob Mason of Westminster landed a 48.5-inch northern pike at Stagecoach in late October? The fish are still biting, Rapala breath! Call the newspaper immediately (871-4207) if you find a duck in your pike's stomach.
6. Plant a new bed of red and white tulips, with the white bulbs spelling out the word "powder." When May finally arrives, your friends will know where your priorities lie.
7. Wax your skis and wax your car all in one day (don't use the blue klister on your Sierra, and don't use Turtle Wax on your new Fischers).
8. Learn to knit a ski cap that closely resembles Brett Favre's football helmet and surprise your best buddy at holiday gift-giving time.
9. Study for your real estate license. It's inevitable.
10. Put the kids Slip 'N Slide on the roof and teach yourself to ski jump.
11. Surf the Web to find how to make snowflake Christmas tree ornaments out of Coors Light cans. Drink lots of Coors Light. It's your duty.
12. Audition for a part in "The Nutcracker" and use it as a stepping stone to "Dancing with the Stars." Don't let the other ballerinas intimidate you.
13. Make an edible replica of Howelsen Hill Lodge out of gingerbread. Use plenty of gum drops.
14. Go for a hike under any chairlift on Mount Werner and see how many perfectly good sticks of lightly used lip balm you can find. If you locate any Rudy Project sunglasses with amber lenses, those are mine. Please drop them off at the newspaper's front desk at your earliest convenience. I'm offering a $20 reward if they are still in great condition.
15. Try a new ski fitness exercise. Sit against a wall with your back straight, just as if you were sitting in a chair, but don't use a chair. Next, ask a friend to place a soccer ball between your knees. Squeeze the soccer ball and hold the position for as along as you can. Build your stamina until you can stay "seated" for at least 90 seconds. This exercise may or may not make you a better skier, but it will almost certainly increase your tolerance for pain. And Lord knows we all felt a little pain this week.
We never dreamed of skiing on Thanksgiving Day in the 1970s. Snowmaking was unheard of on Mount Werner, and it has always been snowmaking that allowed us to ski to the bottom of the mountain on Nov. 21 or 22. Of course, what we want is the real deal.
If we're all good boys and girls and say our "please and thank-you's," sooner or later, it's gotta dump!