Tom Ross: All great ski seasons must come to an end
April 9, 2006
Steamboat Springs — Darn it all Colorado, you’ve gone and done it. You made me fall in love with you — again.
(You guys would stop me right away if I’ve written this column before, wouldn’t you?)
Did you people get up on the mountain during the weekend? Judging from the number of cars in the remote parking lot, most of you did. If that wasn’t the most perfect closing weekend to a ski season ever, I’ll eat my old leather Tele boots.
Oh sure, I guess in heaven they get 20 inches of dry powder on the night of April 8. But if it happened here in the mortal world, we’d never be able to say “goodbye” to the ski season.
Nope, the recipe for a first-class closing weekend has to include smooth groomers that are carveable but not slushy under an impossibly blue Steamboat sky. Throw in a mild breeze to cool things off when the temperature crests 60 degrees, and you’ve got perfection.
Let’s rewind the tape for just a minute. Steamboat received 10 to 14 inches of heavy powder Thursday night and Friday morning. That snowfall gave the hard-cores one last whack at a season of powder days so plentiful that any snowboarder who didn’t take the trouble to mark them off the wall calendar was certain to lose count. Then, on Friday night, the skies cleared, and the temperatures dropped below freezing just far enough to let the Bombardier pilots perform their grooming magic one more time.
Recommended Stories For You
We began the weekend by jumping on the gondola at 8:45 a.m. Saturday, knowing the groomed runs would still be frozen and scratchy. But we found some cold, dry corduroy at the top of Storm Peak and made the most of it while we waited for Sol to soften things up. We were surprised to find some of the best snow on the mountain on lower High Noon and made several laps on a trail we usually never ski. But we made certain we caught a ride on Elkhead chairlift by 11:20 a.m. to ensure we’d be standing at the top of Heavenly Daze when hard crust ripened into perfect corn. There’s nothing quite like swooping down the Daze to See Me with your skis running on rails.
When the snow began to slush up, it was time to gather in Gondola Square for the brilliant slide guitar work of Tony Furtado and some serious people-watching. On the last day of the season, I saw a woman skiing in a mink stole and a man skiing in an authentic Scottish kilt. There were entire Steamboat families skiing in fright wigs and a man skiing in a brown business suit and a fedora. Another fellow had somehow zipped himself inside an inflatable doll, resulting in one of the more bizarre sights of the day.
I even saw a man impersonating a ski patroller while wearing a very official-looking sign on his back that read “Closed for a private function.” I’m still trying to understand the significance of that costume.
The bare minimum for skiers and riders who wanted to send the season out in style on Sunday was a Hawaiian shirt and/or a lei. If you were skiing yesterday in your regular powder pants and shell (and you know who you are), I urge you to contact your family physician at your earliest convenience. Tell the doc that you’re worried that you’ve begun taking yourself too seriously. Don’t worry — there is a cure.
However, there’s no cure for the kind of ski season that just came to a close. You know you’re gonna come back for more.