An opening day for the record books |

An opening day for the record books

Michael McLaughlin
On the Snow

I covered opening day in Aspen last year and didn’t actually make any runs down the mountain, but our new editor, Lauren Glendenning, wasn’t having any of that this year.

Lauren is a snowboarder, and she literally insisted I get on the hill. I figured, “Who am I to argue?” I gathered my gear and made two runs to gauge the snow for myself.

I’m the first to admit, I’m not in skiing shape right now and hadn’t done much to prepare for day one. That said, I stretched a fair amount before I got on the gondola and again at the top of the mountain.

The snow was great considering it hadn’t come down for a few days and it was still pre-Thanksgiving in November. I easily found plenty of untouched snow as I whizzed through 1 & 2 Leaf and cut across Silver Bell.

It was right about when I hit the bottom of the Ajax Express chairlift that the burn reared its ugly head throughout my thighs. Spar Gulch only accentuated that lovely crisp feeling in my legs. On the last drop before Kleenex Corner, I pushed my run a bit too hard and leaned back at the wrong time, causing me to do the “slide home” fall that sprayed a ton of snow into the air, making the fall look more dramatic than it really was.

In fact, my mini voice recorder was somehow activated as I made that fall. I had no idea I grunt so much when I ski, let alone fall. I sounded like a hungry hog and didn’t even know it.

My second run was even better as my adequate form returned with each turn, but the burn kept returning, telling me that being lazy before ski season is not a good idea, especially for someone with all my veteran ski experience (that’s a fancy way for admitting I’m getting old).

Run two finished with a wonderful sprint down Little Nell. I love going fast on skis, and my turns were effortless as I imagined race gates with every pole plant. I really did feel the same rush from skiing on Saturday as I did when I was first learning on the good old Cascade concrete we mastered in Washington state, except I was feeling it on some of the best snow on one of the best hills in the world.

I owe my editor a big thank-you for urging me to ski Saturday and for being able to join the countless others that can say they know what it’s like to ski Aspen on opening day.

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