Could this year’s new batch of lifties be any friendlier? Giggles, jokes, awesome white board art. They are having so much fun out there, which adds that much more joy to every lap through the lift line. Obviously, they’ve drunk the Kool Aid, a.k.a.  the intoxicating elixir called winter.

As a life-long winter-loving skier myself,  I’m praying to Ullr for tangible results at the Paris  climate change negotiations this week. There are billions of good reasons to cheer for a global cut to carbon emissions, starting with saving our snow. The time has come to consider how we’ll Protect Our Winters in the long run.

In this moment, Steamboat continues to feel spoiled. After nearly a week of nightly snowfall, today we expand our horizons with a burst of new terrain. That means there are plenty of freshies stashed away from November’s nearly 5 feet of snow that were inaccessible before the ropes dropped this morning. Skiers and riders are spread out over what’s now 702 acres in-bounds, plus the backcountry that’s accessible via Over Easy.

The ski area feels like your own fast kingdom of fresh terrain this morning.

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On the heels of fun mid-week days on Storm Peak favorites like Flying Z, which opened Tuesday, we’re moving over to the sunny side of the mountain starting today. That means long luscious turns on High Noon, One O’Clock and Two O’Clock, plus the pow that’s been locked away in Twilight. The sun was hitting fresh corduroy on High Noon this morning, and it was positively creamy.

The cats also left Two O’Clock pristine for devoted skiers and riders who caught the first ride up on Storm Peak Express. It wasn’t the fluffiest first run, but it had all the sweet benefits of being infinitely carvable and untracked. The long cat track ride out on Duster might be a bit of a trek for snowboarders right now, but it’s wide and smooth and fairly easy sailing.  Skiers, lend your snowboarding buds a pole.

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On the lower mountain, we’re back on  Upper Vagabond, making for nice top-to-bottom runs via Betwixt and Between.  Rumor is that two of my lower mountain faves, Ted’s and See Me, are opening, too, so watch for those rope drops this afternoon.

Temps are lingering just below freezing this morning. In other words, it’s the perfect kind of balmy cold winter day that keeps the snow nice but doesn’t freeze your nose. While you’re out there ripping up the newly opened runs (and all the goodies that lie in between),  be extra aware of hazards like twigs, rocks and little tree tops, and respect closures and safety signs.

On the newsy front, here’s a nice little tidbit I noticed in the newspaper this morning: The ski area’s Scholarship Day on Nov. 25 earned more than $64,000 for the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club.  SSWSC is our famous local ski club that’s been churning out winter Olympians for over a century. On the day before Thanksgiving, the Steamboat Ski Area donates all proceeds from lift tickets to the local club, and in the past 25 years, Scholarship Day has raised more than $990,000. No wonder Steamboat’s kids are such little rippers up here on the mountain!

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And because I love Steamboat’s funky arts and culture scene almost as much as I love skiing, I would be remiss if I didn’t remind you that tonight is First Friday Artwalk. Mingle with the locals amidst all the newly-installed twinkle lights downtown while perusing the month’s newest art installations in galleries and restaurants. Take note of the snowflake spurs lighting Lincoln Avenue, a holiday touch that has spawned fierce Steamboat pride. Also, the historic Chief Theater is presenting The Best Christmas Pageant Ever all weekend, a hilarious play about a struggling church pageant that’s faced with casting the Herdman kids, touted as “probably the most inventively awful kids in history.” And  because the shopping season is upon us, and I’m a Yampavore who loves supporting local art as much as I love eating locally grown food, stop by the Steamboat Springs Arts Council’s annual Holidays in the Rockies market on Saturday in search of beautiful one-of-a-kind handmade crafts that make giving extra fun. Rumor has it that Santa will be flying in for an appearance, too.

Enjoy this beautiful day on the ever-expanding slopes, and take some sage liftie advice to heart: Have a grateful day everyone!

Jennie Lay, Telemark skier

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