By Merisa Sherman
I hadn’t realized it was spring yet.
Only last week, we were freezing standing in the cold, skiing snow so firm that your entire body shuttered when you maneuvered away from the groomed trails. That was only last week right?
Today my face is on fire and I am sweating. The sky is a stunning blue. The kind of blue that makes you go ride the North Ridge Quad for the optimum tanning angle. Man, that chair just sets you up right.
The sky is Goggle Tan Blue.
You know it, you can feel it coming. Your cheeks, no longer bitten by frost, are on fire from the combined strength of the direct sunlight and the reflection of those rays from the snow onto your face. Your lips are chapped, your fingernails are peeling and chipping underneath your gloves. And damn it, you obviously haven’t been drinking enough water to maintain the balance of your body and the weather.
You ride the Canyon Quad and the South Ridge Quad, because for once, you won’t be freezing to death on the ascent. There’s no wind, no brutally cold wind chilling you to the bone as you prove your commitment to skiing by riding up these lifts. In fact, you unzip your jacket to let in the slight breeze from the movement of the chair through the air, you take your gloves off and squish them underneath your thigh so they don’t fall away and you lay back, enjoying the miracle warmth while you prep for a sun soaked Double Dipper.
Because it is freaking glorious. Not the knee deep powder kind of glorious, the groomed to the nines while we’ve got the perfect wax glorious, or the soft powder bumps with large scrapie bits in random places glorious. This is the cream cheese hero snow greatness. The sun-soaked, slight water logged but not too much, soft instant mashed potato snow. The kind of snow that with a little effort, is the best playground on the planet. At least for me.
We take the skier’s right on Upper Double, my dad’s preferred line, the last place where he skied powder with his girls and now one of my utmost favorite places on the mountain to make a few turns.
It tastes delicious today and I can feel my skis digging into the snow with ease, not quite sinking and totally solid. We cross over the work road and five down over the roller. I’m right on his tails and we jump, sink, compress, rotate, press rise and it’s all flying at me in sequence. Pressuring the tails more and more while I feel that playful pop as my tails launch me into the next turn. It’s soft. It’s playful. It’s not that heavy.
And it’s one of my favorite feelings in the world. The kind of turns where everything else in the world fades away, and there is nothing but you and your skis, playing your dance with the mountain. Floating over the trail and then sinking deep into it. It absorbs your every being and you lose yourself in the rhythm of your turns, only awake because you can hear your breathing timed to the compressions.
I move to the left, toward the middle into the usually quite firm abyss and flinch just slightly as I anticipate the scrape-y bits that usually define the middle of DD. But there’s none there. The middle is glorious. Even the middle is cream cheese hero snow gloriousness! I am free! I am free! No longer trapped to the sides, searching for just a little bit of traction, the sun has left a beautiful gift.
I am launching my skis, jumping this mound over toward the next, turning in the air and throwing in some hop turns for fun. Because who cares? I am going to land in the cream cheese and it will hold. I can do whatever I want, the fear of the slide for life or the unlatched edge vanishes and it’s a Superstar Glacier type free for all — on Double Dipper! This is killer awesome. My heart is pumping hard with joy as my legs swing underneath me and my quads start burning.
That line was in. The line that never seems to exist after the first run groomies wear off and there is nothing left to hold onto so you just end up sideslipping half the way down. That line today was The Line. The junky middle line became the perfect line. And the world was filled with glory.
Now you know, we have to do it twice to get it right? Then we should probably go hit Lower Ovation at least twice.
Praise be the Sun Gods and the January (February?) thaw. May they go away now so that we can have the (at least) six more weeks of winter that the Groundhog promised us.