Alta States 

A new day and a whole new generation

He sat across from me in the gondola. He couldn’t have been more than 18. Pimply chin and a beardless phiz. Unkempt hair and a grin that spread from ear-to-ear. He was so excited he could barely contain himself. So energized he was like a puppy in front of a fire hydrant. And I knew exactly where he was coming from.

“Hive been dreamin’ about dees hall summare,” he said, catching my complicit grin. “Ahm so excited. Ahm so excited. ’Ow ’bout you?” There wasn’t a hint of self-consciousness in this kid. Just total, unabated bliss. And he wanted to share it with everyone in the gondola. No matter that we were squeezed together like sardines in a tin. No matter that the gondola’s slopeside-window had been bolted shut and we could barely breathe. He was living his dream — everything else was irrelevant.

  “I steel can’t believe heets rilly ’appenin’ to me,” he enthused. “Hopenin’ Day. Finalement — my furs run on Wistlare!’” His eyes grew wide. His grin became almost clown like. And then a look of concern. “Do you tink it will be OK up dere?”

I love this time of the year. When most sane people are battening down the hatches or planning retreats to warmer climes, true-believers of the Snoweater tribe are frantically digging through their winter closets in search of gloves, hats, goggles, boots, boards, transceivers, socks, tights, coats, poles, pants, shovel, probes — and whatever else they might need for the first official play session of the season.

Opening Day. Is there another one-day event at any other time of the year that releases so much adrenaline into the bloodstream? So much pure happiness into the air? Yeah, I know. Golfers get animated when they are finally turned loose on the greens. And mountain bikers get dewy-eyed when the snow eventually melts from the trails. Sure, Apple aficionados go weak in the knees when new aps are unveiled in Cupertino. But they just don’t compare. You see, there is something about sliding downhill on snow — something about loosening the human chains off one of the most physically awkward members of the animal kingdom — that transforms even the grumpiest old cynic into the most accessible of romantics.

And Opening Day is all about celebrating that transformation…

Now if you don’t like winter weather, you’ll never understand what I’m talking about. If you can’t handle a wet butt or a wind-hammered face, don’t even try. If your idea of a good time doesn’t include cold toes and a dripping nose, and that slightly damp, clammy feel you get in your crotch at the end of a big Whistler powder day, chances are you’re better off playing golf after all.

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