I think it is. You might call me crazy. Maybe it’s all wishful thinking. It is only Feb. 8 after all, and spring often evades this valley until June. June is a long melt away. But there is the tiniest change in the air — just a hint of spring — and this winter-loving girl will take it.

One of the greatest things about the mountains is the dramatic variety of seasons.  Fall starts to show itself in late August, the afternoon shadows start to lengthen, and the smell of the earth is a little different. Same goes for spring. Just a week ago, I started to hear the birds. Yesterday afternoon, it was comfortable being outside in regular winter clothes rather than snow clothes head to toe. There are puddles in the roads. The days are suddenly getting longer.

What does this have to do with skiing? It’s just a slight shift in attitude: The air is a hint warmer (this morning was still cold but warmer temps are predicted for much of this week) and the smell of sunscreen is in the air.  Skiing with toddlers is a bit easier as there is less concern about cold noses and toes.

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The sun sets slower, making for more aggressive apres ski sessions. I can feel a thaw in my spirit. After braving the cold and the endless shoveleing and bundling up, this minor change feels like looking forward to a new season. It feels like spring.

I had a great casual Monday morning skiing hot groomer laps with my hot husband. Not a normal treat for a true winter morning. And I am not normally a huge fan of groomers (yes, I know I am weird) but they are skiing so beautifully and predictably. After what has seemed like endless storms and new snow, the mountain is in pretty much perfect shape with packed powder and no icy spots in sight. You can truly set an edge and trust the slope to hold you there until you’re ready to switch sides. The visibility this morning leaves a bit to be desired, but the edge of overcast turns clear to the west, so the sun might come out midday making for a beautiful, bluebird and warm afternoon.

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If your life allows and the forecast holds, afternoon skiing is where it’s at this week.  Tuesday is Mardi Gras, and the beads and cajun spices will fill the resort all day.  Sunset Happy Hour on Thursday might actually see a sunset.  Goggle tan competitions will commence.  The snow on non-groomed runs and in the trees, especially in areas that face north and get less exposure to warm sun, is holding great. But the groomers are too fun to not take advantage of channeling your inner Bode or Lindsey.

Now, don’t go around thinking this spring feeling is here to stay. We still have plenty of winter left here in Routt County.  But take advantage of the beautiful conditions and warmer temps.  Relax a minute and enjoy these lenghtening days and rays. I certainly am!

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Ali Givnish, Alpine skier

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