By Ron Kubicki
PSIA/AASI Certified Level III Alpine, Children’s Specialist II
Well the 2015-2016 appears to be underway, thanks to the hard work and some exceptional technology in snowmaking in which our area resorts have invested.
I am sure many of us have had mixed emotions about this wacky season so far. I spent much of December riding my motorcycle. I have seen activity at local golf courses, plus many other warmer weather activities. I, too, have bristled at the local weather forecasters and “anti-cold” citizens reveling in this unseasonable warmth… But, it only took a couple cold nights and some determined and skilled snowmakers, to get the slopes open at Holiday Valley and HoliMont for this first full weekend of the year.
A couple of things to keep in mind when you do finally get “on-snow” to make the early season fun and safe:
• Be a good citizen on the slopes. Everyone is anxious to get going; maybe there is some new gear to try out, or a lot of pent up enthusiasm for your first season pass. Whatever it is, the reality is that there are lots of enthusiasts, lots of eager anticipation, lots of skiers and riders and limited terrain.
• Skiing and snowboard technology has taken our typical downhill routes, from the fall-line (straight ski technology) to higher speed arcing turns (shaped ski technology). The problem with this is that arcing turns use up a lot of terrain, and on narrower and thinner coverage this may impede others’ paths and terrain approaching from above. So ski and ride in a narrower, slightly slower lane until we get full access to all slopes and terrain.
• Use this time to get your feet under you. We are all anxious to “let ‘er rip,” but let’s use some discretion and realize there a lot of people trying to use limited terrain. Keep your speed appropriate for conditions – snow surface, weather, lighting, downhill traffic, whether snowmaking is present and many other things. Also keep in touch with your mental and physical state. Get tired? Take a break. Get an attitude? Take a break.
• There will be many people who are anxious to get as much in as they can, which means jostling and rushing to lift lines. Be courteous and take your time. The modern lifts we enjoy have a tremendous uphill capacity. You won’t lose any slope time by being respectful to others.
• Please also be aware that even on the first day, there are likely to be lessons on-snow. In these situations an instructor is working with someone who is focused on a task or directions and may be less aware of the immediate surroundings. Please be courteous and afford them some consideration.
Please use these minimal suggestions to keep your experience a positive one to begin the season. We have weeks of great conditions ahead of us. C’mon… this IS the “Snowbelt” and if it only gets cold, the resorts can blanket the slopes with great snow. So get out there and have some fun, start slow and before you know it, you will be in mid-season form, tearing the slopes up!
Oh, and let me just make a quick reminder that now is a good time to take a lesson from PSIA-E/AASI trained snowsports instructors. They are anxious to get going as well, and getting a few tips to start right can’t help but make you a better skier/rider. We all look to improve and expand our skill level and terrain usage, don’t we? I do.
So, be safe and sane, put a smile on your face, and point ‘em downhill!
As always, I look forward to seeing you on the slopes.