From the moment my alarm clock blared, this entire morning has been a memorable flashback. As a youngster growing up in Steamboat, I was an avid ski racer from the age of 5. By 15, I was on the verge of making the U.S. Ski Team and had long before devoted my entire life to the sport. Today was like any other growing up a “gate chaser.” From the before-sun wake up, to the early lift loading and the first sight of blue and red gates scattering the hill, I felt right back at home as a youth. The firm snow became a comfort and a preferred ski condition, similar to today.
I was excited to make my inaugural runs down Vagabond and High Noon. As I buckled up at the top of Vagabond, I reminisced as I watched the ski patrol set fencing and slow signs. I was yet again surprised by how well the snow is holding up. Still grippy and dry and not scraped down to the man-made base.
Upper Vagabond was a blast. Perfect corduroy and wide open for my enjoyment to arc turns from one edge of the trail to the other. As I made my way over to Lower Ted’s Ridge, I was greeted by a handful of ski instructors partaking in clinics. It’s great to see how hard they work to better their own skiing to then be able to better others’ skiing. From the top of Thunderhead lift I made a quick jaunt down Rudi’s Run, up Storm Peak Express and over to the Priest Creek side of the mountain. I couldn’t help but to stop and check out the status of our beloved powder run, Shadows. A few poach tracks let me know that it’s getting close to having ample coverage to open for the season!
After an ear-grinning cruise down a wide-open High Noon, I had my fun down an ungroomed One O’Clock to give myself a bit of speed and leeway to make the trek back to main mountain by way of Duster. Even without the groom, One O’Clock was well covered and enjoyable.
The best part about coming back on Duster was getting to finish my run with Lower Rainbow — one of my favorite trails of all. A quick ride up Burgess Creek and I was headed down an already busy Heavenly Daze. At the top of Sitz, I again took a moment to reflect on my years of racing down that exact run. Multiple training courses lined the runs and racers were like ants in a farm. What an incredible new training venue for the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club.
The clouds today have a lot to say: Storms are on the horizon! One is supposed to arrive at the end of the week by way of the Sierras, and another storm is supposed to hit us at the beginning of next week coming from the Pacific Northwest.
Keep your fingers crossed and do your snow dance!
Brett Buckles, Alpine skier