On Scene: Opening Day | SteamboatToday.com

On Scene: Opening Day

Mike McCollum

Steamboat Springs — Baseball and skiing may not have much in common, except possibly the excitement of Opening Day. — Baseball and skiing may not have much in common, except possibly the excitement of Opening Day.

— Baseball and skiing may not have much in common, except possibly the excitement of Opening Day.

Growing up deep in the sun-baked South, “opening day” had seemingly a much different meaning than the sub-freezing temperatures I endured for the opening of the Steamboat Ski Area’s 2007-08 season.

For an Atlanta native, opening day was all about baseball, cold beer and spending time with friends while watching some amazing athletes play a game I could never quite master.

Substitute hot coffee for cold beer, and ski gear for shorts, flip flops, Braves jersey and rally cap, and my experience last Friday was quite similar.

I arrived early with fellow reporter Brandon Gee and photographer Brian Ray – as I do with friends for batting practice – to ride the ski area’s new six-passenger Christie Peak Express lift.

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Coming early to shag fly balls is one thing, but cutting some turns and sharing a lift with a handful of Olympians is something to remember.

Six Olympians, including Billy Kidd, Nelson Carmichael, Erin Simmons, Travis Mayer, Todd Lodwick and Deb Armstrong cut the same runs as I did in the same subpar, early season snow. I wasn’t just a spectator, and at least one Olympian was having as much fun as I was.

“It’s surprising that some of us older, more mature skiers feel that same buzz the first day,” said Steamboat Director of Skiing Billy Kidd, who won the silver medal at the 1964 Olympics in Innsbruck, Austria. “You think you’d outgrow it, but it was fun getting out there today.”

The culture of skiing and boarding in Steamboat Springs is as ingrained in the psyche of those who live here as much as blues music is in Mississippi – where I spent the past year of my life before moving to Steamboat in June – and college football in my gridiron-mad college town, Auburn, Ala.

My first taste of this obsession with all-things-snow came in early October when nearly everyone I knew in Steamboat piled out of the Tap House one night during a steady snowfall.

My friends were running up and down Lincoln Avenue in the snow with the excitement of little leaguers running the bases on a major league diamond.

Two months later, that excitement was unleashed on the slopes. I can hardly imagine if closing day is as electrifying as the World Series.