Zalaznick: Better off without snow |

Zalaznick: Better off without snow

Matt Zalaznick
Vail CO, Colorado

Let’s consider this dreary delay of ski season a global-warming fire drill.

On what was supposed to be opening day, we should be thankful for this chance to dress rehearse the year-round mud season that’s likely to settle on Colorado by the end of this century no matter how many wind credits are bought by the titans of Ski Country.

I’m not saying climate change is responsible for that string of man-made shaving cream dribbling down Lionshead, but I’m glad to see it.

Now we can innovate ” start engineering skis and snowboards that slide on mud, dust and rocks. I envision “ski”-gear with tank-like tracks and some sort of leaf-blower apparatus that could blast at least some of the rocks out of the way.

Think of the variety of terrain, the range of conditions: Instead of just powder days and groomers ” instead of just snow all the time ” guests of the resort could enjoy dust-storms, rockslides and extra-thick mud.

Maybe even swarms of locusts!

This would encourage further ingenuity and job creation: the great minds at Salomon and Burton would have to design armor to repel plummeting rocks and ski suits that would float (and help someone free themselves from) the quicksand that will overrun parts of the mountain.

Here’s a stock tip: Invest in tar. With a deadly sun pounding through a wafer-thin ozone layer, SPF45 won’t get the job done.

We’ll probably have to brew up a type of snow that doesn’t melt in Abeline, Texas-type weather; a goo we can pump all over the mountainsides when the temperature’s above 60 degrees most of the year.

The good news is, if the new supersnow never melts, Vail can finally be the year-round resort it’s always wanted to be. And the resort can use most of the water in Gore Creek because we won’t need silly things like rubber-duck races and kayak rodeos to bring people here in July if the “slopes” are open.

And the heat and humidity will finally give the Vail Valley Medical Center an excuse to open that tropical diseases ward it has always lacked. A few cases of dengue fever now will really prepare us for the epidemics to come.

This warmth should also give the fur shops and down-parka retailers a chance to rethink their business plans. Maybe some plucky Bridge Street entrepreneur can pioneer the mink bikini ” people will still want to look good when they’re muckboarding in the Back Bowls.

Of course, a mink bikini won’t be much protection from passing toxic, bird-flu clouds. Come to think of it, we’ll also have to do something about all those bears pouring out of the backcountry looking for food when serviceberries go extinct.

So I’m thinking bear-skin haz-mat suits will be all the rage.

Today’s gloomy start to ski season should scare us all into getting started on these projects. Once the climate goes bonkers, we may not have the resources to produce the gear of the future.

I mean, try making a haz-mat suit in the dark without electricity; try fortifying a snowboard into a virtual tank with tools powered by sagebrush and mashed-up bark beetles.

But the lessons of a delayed opening day aren’t only gloom and doom. A day on which we’re not rushing to the slopes gives us time to worry about things perilous but less apocalyptic than global warming: illegal immigration, collapsing bridges, toys that put kids in comas, school shootings, rising murder rates, war, terrorism, Britney Spears’ suitability for motherhood.

And that, in turn, reminds us of why we live way out here: To get away from all those fears.

Is it still working? Or has our bubble popped?

Assistant Managing Editor Matt Zalaznick can be reached at 748-2926, or

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