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Last Day on the Slopes – Or Not

By Dave Potter

Remember that first day of skiing back in November? Remember the excitement and the anticipation? Now we’re entering the sixth month of skiing. Six months! This has been a great and long season, but all good things must come to an end. The days are getting warmer. The rain is more likely to come rather than snow. And slowly but surely the sliders on the slopes are getting fewer.

The Usual Gang of Idiots is also becoming noticeably smaller each weekend. They come up with flimsy excuses such as “my daughter is having a baby” or “I’m taking the family to South Beach.” They seem to think these issues are more important than skiing. Luckily, I still have two friends left who realize that you must still ski as long as we still have snow and the lifts are turning.

So last weekend a much reduced Usual Gang of Idiots headed to the “Private Beach” for what might be the last ski event of the season.

We arrived early, keeping with our “first runs are the best runs” philosophy. It was not crowded. Apparently, not too many people believe in our philosophy. Plus, the weather conditions were more like early January than early April. The good people on Buffalo’s channel 2 were a bit off with their partly sunny and mid 40s forecast. No matter. We booted up and headed for the lift.

The conditions were a bit firm. Not bad, but not great. But when you realize that you’re skiing in April with no bare spots, it was great. Plus, we had the hill almost to ourselves. We quickly started to rack up vertical.

We were having a great time and didn’t want to stop. But one of the Idiots had a different idea. Now this particular member of the group has a reputation for not falling on the slopes, but once he’s standing still in the lift line, all bets are off. We were getting on Cascade lift when, for no apparent reason, he stuck his pole in front of me before the metal body positioning bars. My forward motion bent his pole into a perfect 90-degree angle. The lifties even stopped the lift to laugh and ask, “How did you do that?”

By the way, once a pole is bent, there is no straightening without breaking, so we headed back to the lodge to rent some replacements. But once in the lodge, we ran into one of our foolish friends who doesn’t understand why God invented chairlifts. He hikes up the hill early in the morning and gets his skiing done before the more enlightened of us start riding the lifts. Anyway, we borrowed his poles and headed back out.

With each run, we knew we were getting one more run closer to the end. I started to savor each turn and tried to get the most out of each descent. Finally, it was time. The last run of the season was here. It’s always anticlimactic. You feel like there should be some sort of acknowledgement that the season is over, but there never is. You get to the bottom and take your skies off like it’s just the end of a normal ski day.

Afterward, we went to the Gin Mill for our usual burger and beer. We rehashed the season and our upcoming spring plans when our waitress Krista informed us that she just heard that the Valley is going to reopen next weekend. Now, we get to have a second last day of the season!

This just might be the ski season that never ends.

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