Packed Powder, Trick Skis, and Caffeine Will Make You Feel Like A GOD*


*Disclaimer:  This may not work if you are used to having caffeine.

Holy cow.  We were 100% starved of natural snow for the entire month of December, and most of January.  Now we’ve had three snowstorms.  One of them was a huge dump from a squall that parked itself over the MA and southern VT ski areas, and snowed until the sky turned blue.  The other two storms were this past week, and they were both totally dinky – not even enough snow to bring the city of Dallas to its knees (surprisingly easy to do) – BUT what small amounts of snow they laid down came entirely in the form of Champagne Powder.  Tiny crystalline dry flakes that pile up to make the lightest, fluffiest snow anywhere.

I should say that this kind of snow is relatively…foreign…to this region.  We’re more likely to have snowflakes the size of my hand, from hundreds of wet, sticky flakes glomming together until they drop from the clouds like fluffy cement.  And all too often our snowstorms start – and end – with a period of freezing rain, drizzle, or sleet.  Which means that any usable snow is typically sandwiched in between two thick layers of ice.  We hates that stuff, we does, My Precioussss.

We likes snow that sinks under our feet.  We likes snow that doesn’t hurt when it falls from the sky and lands on our head.  We likes snow that is capable of being blown about by the wind.  We likes snow that is soft.

We likes Powder, My Preciousss.

We got it Thursday night, and we skied it Friday morning until our legs were ready to fall off.  Which, because powder is much harder to ski than groomers, happened surprisingly quickly.  But we has the Precioussss, the Powder Skis.  And our Precioussss carried us all over the mountain on Friday, including into the terrain park, where our Preciousss tried to talk us into taking a jump or two, but we didn’t do it, did we?

No, because we are Fanatical Skiers, but we are not Insane.

That said, it’s clearly getting to be time to score a skiing lesson that involves How To Catch Air.  The skis wants it.

I’m pretty sure I’m good enough to take it, too.  On Friday, I skied whatever the heck I wanted to, with the exception of the North Face, because none of that had been groomed.  And powder and steeps = moguls the size of a VW bug = Get Tired Real Fast.  Also, Fall Down.  So I stayed off that, but I did blow out a couple of blues I hadn’t done, and then, there was the terrain park.  Good skiing over there, too.  Nice conditions, except for the 50 feet of MineShaft that was scraped down to the hardpack for some reason.

Then we got really lucky, and scored another blast of pure, crisp, white, fluffy, crystalline powder on Saturday.  Turned the streets to a mess for 10 hours, but it was worth it.  I took the Precioussss out to a different mountain this time, and blasted down run after run.  After skiing the fresh pow on Friday, it was a stunning relief to get back onto groomers, especially since these groomers were packed powder, my favorite surface ever.  My skis taught that hill a thing or two.  Taught me a thing or two as well, as they talked me into doing this fancy-antsy X-games hockey stop that involved swapping ends mid-way through.  So, hockey stop-kick up a sheet of dust-spin a 180-hockey stop again-kick up a sheet of dust.

And this was getting in to the lift line, which meant that everyone could see what a show-off awesome ripper I am.

Actually, I did have two guys immediately go “Hey! Those are rockered and reverse cambered, aren’t they?” (yes) and at the other end of the lift ride, a further couple of guys go “Wow! Look at those boards!” as I blew past them.

Because I was blowing past everyone today.  And doing it with bloody big Grand Slalom carved turns…or short snappy Slalom carved turns…depending on the width of the run.

I felt like Pikabo Street and Lindsey Vonn all rolled into one.

And that was before I hit the black diamond.  I’d checked out the main face black and decided that I could do it, but only if I swapped my trick skis for something a lot more rigid and sharp-edged, like the pair of Volkl Tierras I’d brought with me and left in the rack.  Thus launched an extensive cost-benefit analysis involving the question of whether it was worth it to spend time changing skis just to do that black run…which got derailed by the sight of a previously undiscovered lift.  Who could resist this Mystery?  Not I.  So I boarded, and off we went.  I figured, what the heck, if it drops me into a black diamond zone, I already know I can do that.

Because today, I was a GOD.

There were diamonds, but not as interesting as the simple blue square, because I wasn’t in a mood to be cautious.  I wanted to carve my powder skis and bag major Style Points while doing so.  And ain’t nobody going to grant me Style Points when I take my fatties onto a black run.

Except for the diamond on the other side of the mountain, that I discovered while taking a short break by cruising a green.  Lo, here’s a black diamond.  This time “No” was not a viable answer.  Off we went.  And, just as I had decided that the run must be Saving The Worst For Last, expecting some kind of hideous and terrifying drop-off, what I saw instead was the bright orange “SLOW ZONE” sign, indicating that I was rejoining the rest of the world.

“WTF?” I said.  “That was a black diamond?”

Yes.  I ripped a black diamond today and hardly noticed it.  So I did it five more times.

And that, friends, is what packed powder, trick skis, and a shot of caffeine will do for you.


About Lori Holder-Webb

I'm a Southern Woman by birth and a Texan Woman by upbringing...and yet I find myself living in New England and married to a New York City boy. Up here we use the same currency as we do at home, and I don't need to travel with a passport, but the commonalities pretty much end there. The language is different, the jokes are different, the people are different, and the weather and terrain sure are different too. I moved away from Texas in 2002, and ever since then, I've been the stranger in the strange land... I've had some questions about the name of the blog - if you were not alive, or living abroad or under a rock, or in grad school during the late 1980s, Oldsmobile attempted to shuck its stodgy image with a series of commercials intended to bring brand appeal to the younger generation: this car, they said, is not your father's Oldsmobile. If you have a morbid curiosity, hit YouTube for William Shatner will take you right there.

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