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Bless you, snow gods

The snow gods are smiling on us thus far in 2003, and even though you’re not supposed to talk about it for fear of jinxing our fine fortune (kind of like a no-hitter in baseball), I feel compelled to pay homage with my own special paean to powder.On Wednesday, Jan. 1, more than a foot of new snow greeted locals the first day their ski passes were good in nearly a week. It must be karma.We slave away at the 2.3 jobs we need to work to be able to afford to live in paradise, grinding it out during the busiest time of year, our relatives in town feeling festive and skiing their brains out, and all the while we have one eye on the slopes, desperately wanting to scratch our downhill itch.To be honest, most of us are too busy to ski, and the crowds, which this year thankfully were truly enormous, are usually such that you don’t want to venture up on the hill anyway. So holiday pass restrictions make some degree of sense.And even though we want the snow to be good for our guests (the only thing worse than a grumpy tourist is a grumpy local), secretly we don’t want there to be too huge of a dump when we can’t get up there and play in it.So on New Year’s Day, when the pass restrictions lifted, the sky fell and fell. There was nearly a foot overnight New Year’s Eve and it snowed several more inches throughout the day, beautifully filling in our frantic tracks.New Year’s Day is usually a great day to ski, because, like Christmas Day, nobody hits the hill until noon, though for much different reasons. On Jan. 1 everyone is opening aspirin bottles; on Christmas Day they’re all tearing open presents.But it seemed like all the locals abstained this New Year’s Eve, and they were rewarded the next day with a heaping helping of the white stuff.Sure, there were plenty of Front Rangers clogging the lift mazes, and a respectable number of destination skiers (read New Yorkers) plying the powder, but it was truly amazing how many locals were on the mountain. They were as thick as SUV’s on I-70 on a Sunday afternoon.You couldn’t jump into a powder stash without nearly running over your neighbor. You couldn’t ride Chair 5 or grab a bite to eat at Mid-Vail without bumping into some politician, former politician or Realtor. Locals were everywhere, and they all had big grins on their faces. As did the guests.But despite the big crowds, the vast majority of folks were sticking to the front-side groomers (a few were even seen downloading the Vista Bahn, grumbling about too much snow, which is a serious affront to the snow gods).So if you didn’t mind bumping into your mailman or your bank teller, you could find lots of fresh, fluffy turns all over the backside and the throughout the hidden tree stashes.It was a fantastic way to start the year. Now let’s take good care of our karma and keep up the good vibe for the rest of ’03. The snow gods are watching.David O. Williams is managing editor of The Vail Trail and has been an editor and writer in the Vail Valley for more than 10 years. E-mail him at dwilliams@vailtrail.com.


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