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Spring Skiing, Hero Snow and the Snowbar

By Dave Potter

Corn, mashed potatoes and mounds of sugar. No, I’m not talking about Thanksgiving dinner. I’m talking about spring skiing.

Even though this winter has been brutally cold, spring is on its way. At least I hope so. It is March.

Stick around because Holiday Valley is ramping up to celebrate spring in its own unique way this weekend. Winter Carnival, and all the innocent shenanigans that come with it, are truly a sight to see. (See page ___ for event schedule.) And the skiing will be great!

Usually this time of year, even though we’re saying good-bye to packed power surfaces, we look forward to enjoying spring snow conditions. It’s actually my favorite time to ski … and it reminds me of the reason I ski. The changing snow sometimes makes for challenging conditions and I have to make adjustments to my technique.

And then there are those magical times when the snow gods bless us with the some of the best surfaces of the year. It’s what my friends and I call “hero” snow.

On hero snow, you can do no wrong. You can hang an edge forever it seems. You can travel down the hill in soaring arcs. You find out why the ski manufactures choose to build your skis with deep sidecuts.

Last spring, the Usual Gang of Idiots (aka my friends) and I hit such a perfect day. I remarked to one of my friends after a run down Chute that this was the closest you could get to flying without actually doing it. To have the freedom to fly down a slope and almost effortlessly carve a big sweeping turn and connect it to another is an incredible feeling! This is why I ski.

But let’s now talk about the flipside for a minute. You get to the slopes early and hit the first chair only to discover that the skiing surface is what is kindly described as firm. No worries. It’s spring.

As the day progresses, it will warm and the conditions always improve. Also, the slope surface will continue to change as the day progresses. Of course, this will bring its own challenges as you adjust to the changing conditions, but by the end of the day, you will have an incredible feeling of accomplishment. You’ve conquered the hill — at least for that day.

Sometimes when I’m skiing with my friends, we all experience that feeling of accomplishment after every run. We get to the bottom of the slope and usually rate the run with one word, or maybe two, before the chair sweeps us up again.

On the ascent, we get into a deeper critique of the run. It’s amazing how different our experiences are. Someone skiing in the sun will have a different experience than someone skiing in the shade. We’ll tackle the same slope again taking different lines until everyone conquers the slope and then, and only then, move on to the next.

If the corn gets too deep, we move to what is my next favorite part of spring skiing, the Snowbar at the bottom of Yodeler. Adults really should check out this amazing bar sculpted of snow by the talented Holiday Valley snowmakers.

After an adult beverage or two, it’s surprising how much better skiers we become. As I listen to fellow skiers chatting around me, it seems this amazing increase in ability is a universal experience. So much so that some could possibly defeat Bode Miller in a downhill!

Spring skiing brings its own unique challenges, but in my opinion, it’s the best part of the season. See you on the slopes this weekend!

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