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Praying for snow

Charlie OwenVail, CO, Colorado
AE Joel Prays2 PU 11-17-07
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Old Man Winter just might have forgotten to set his alarm clock this winter.As locals and visitors await blizzards and the freezing temperatures necessary for the mountain conditions they seek, Mother Nature doesnt seem to be too concerned with their plight. When all else fails, is it possible to shift the balance of weathers scales by performing rituals and sending out positive vibes to the far reaches of the universe?Some people think so.Edwards resident Garrett Fletcher has a few items in his bag of tricks. His plan to throw a big winter bash is more than just an excuse to get together with friends and drink; its his way of baiting the snow gods into finally letting the clouds open up.Were going to have a party and were calling it the bring the snow down throw down, Fletcher said. Itll be a lot of drinking and snow dances, well light some candles, that sort of thing.He has also been wearing shorts for the past two weeks and will continue to wear them until Vail sees 12 inches of snowfall in 24 hours, he said. If anybody doesnt believe in global warming they should come out to the mountains and check it out, Fletcher said.Sacrificing virgins to appease the angry gods may be out of the question, but a good old-fashioned prayer to them might help the situation.I pray five times a day to the snow gods, religiously, said Adam Khawaja, an employee of Vail Mountain Adventure center. His co-worker, Clark Wilkinson, does the same. I definitely pray but I dont know who Im praying to, Wilkinson said. So he prays to all the gods of all the religions, hoping that any of them hear his plea for powder, he said.

One of the best ways to force natures hand is to just continue with activities that require warm weather. At least thats what 17-year Vail resident Robert Guston believes. He has continued to play golf as much as possible, trying to squeeze the most out of the remaining sunny days.It seems like Mother Nature always evens things out here in the mountains, Guston said. His attitude isnt as grim as others right now given the bare slopes because he has been around the valley long enough to know that even dry spells eventually turn. He is certain that all is not lost.Maybe positive thinking is enough to shift the balance. Jen Pinkus, outreach coordinator for the Eagle River Youth Coalition, thinks so. You feel like if you buy firewood and put out your winter clothes and have everyone over for hot dogs and (to watch) Better Off Dead its bound to snow, Pinkus said.

Could it be that weve gotten too greedy? Living in a top-rated ski resort tends to put residents into a privileged mentality. We often think we deserve the snow and that other resorts should be forgotten about. If the weather is anything, its unpredictable and comes in cycles. And even though we may be getting off to a slow start, that doesnt mean that the game has been called.When it snows, it snows. If for some reason we pissed off the snow gods, we pay for it, said long-time Vail resident Ernie Nelson. What people fail to remember is that for (the last) five or six years weve been very fortunate because the whole front of the mountain has been open every single year. And over the 30 plus years Ive been here there has been at least a dozen or 15 times when all that was open was the ribbon of death. There is nothing new that really has happened here, its just that the newcomers you know, the people that have been here within 10 years they think it starts snowing at the end of October and just never stops.The pushing back of Vails opening day is not an unprecedented event. Jen Brown, spokeswoman for Vail Mountain, recalls a few times when dates have had to be moved around to accommodate the lack of snowfall.Depending upon the year we have had earlier seasons than anticipated, she said. Weve moved it forward and back. Its not the first time, but it hasnt been very often. This weather right now is typical. We just look forward to the snow. It will snow. Its on the way.In the past, Vail Mountain has enlisted the help of the Ute tribe to perform the snow dance, a variation on the mythical rain dance used in Native American culture. The tribe has performed the snow dance only three times for Vail since the mountain first opened, Brown said. Even though we could use their help, the tribe is not on call to perform miracles, and only performs the dance on special occasions. Brown said there is no snow dance currently scheduled. But if you feel like running around naked in the streets and howling at the moon to wake up the snow gods, then by all means, go for it. The police might not appreciate it, but there will be a lot of happy skier and boarders that will thank you if it works.Arts & Entertainment writer Charlie Owen can be reached at 748-2939 or cowen@vaildaily.com.


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