Photo: Salomon Archives/Dan Brown
This morning Vail Resorts announced their 2020/2021 operating plan that includes a reservation system for the upcoming season. You can read all about it here.
The groans and mumbling on social media began almost immediately. How will folks who live to ski and ski to feel alive do their spur of the moment pow days? How will afternoon power hours exists? What about apres? The horror.
Jamie Storrs, a friend and Vail Resorts PR professional, said in an email "Most days you'll actually be able to make a reservation day-of." Crisis averted.
The whole reaction to the ordeal reminded me of my first year working as an editor at a popular ski magazine. I made a promise to a friend, the director of marketing at Salomon, to attend a youth academy at Whaleback in New Hampshire. The problem? The event was only a day after my first ever week in Jackson Hole where I intended to ski my legs and drink my liver into complete oblivion—not exactly the ideal prerequisite to be hanging with the Future Skiers of America. But I'm a sucker for friends, so I bought a flight from Jackson Hole to Boston, hopped in a van, right as the rain started to pour, and we made our dreary way to Whaleback, New Hampshire, for what I presumed would be the worst weekend of skiing in my life.
Whaleback is a gem.
The next morning the rain subsided and the sun... Na. Just kidding. Clouds squeezed every drop, creating puddles in the parking lots, and decimating a nearly non-existent snowpack. And the kids didn't say shit. They were there to ski in trash bags. They were there to suck up whatever the world was throwing at them so they could get out on the hill with a hero they recognized from annual ski film. They showed up and they skied.
That day at Whaleback is one of the more memorable days I have as someone with incredible privilege to travel the world skiing with nearly three generations of the best skiers on the planet. From my skis, I watched Scot Schmidt effortlessly air into a chute, chased Cody Townsend around Switzerland, witnessed Candide Thovex toss the most beautiful cork 7s, and unsuccessfully tried to keep up with Rachel Burks.
I do not write all of this as a brag or a boast, but as a lesson I hope to pass on to those of you reading this, worried that your season is in doubt. My wish for you, fellow skiers and riders, is that you embody the best of the Future Skiers of America, the kids at Whaleback, who only want to make turns, slide a rail, and goof off outdoors. If they can do it, surely we can as well.
Take Covid-19, social justice, and this upcoming election seriously. Don't do that with skiing or riding. This winter will look different. Resorts will open. Some might close. This season won't be the epic or iconic winter we hoped for in the past. However, perhaps, the months from November to June (if you're lucky) will be the most memorable one of our lives.
See ya in the puddles.