It’s midseason and it seems like locals are all waiting for The Next Big Storm, part of which may have come in by the time this is printed. The bumps on Aspen Mountain are getting huge, even as the buttery layer that the last snowfall left is slowly withering away. On Highlands, pockets of fresh still lurk in the trees on the lower half of the mountain. And the 5 or 6 inches that blanketed Snowmass on Sunday, forcing the postponement of the first Colorado Freeride Series event, was enough to cushion the rough patches and put a smile on skiers’ faces, but not enough to really pad up the Wall.Don’t get me wrong – the skiing’s been great, but once again, we were spoiled early this season with holiday storms that left us with 5 feet of snow and a couple of weeks’ worth of huge grins.If this patchy series of storms doesn’t measure up to local expectations, why not test your skills by competing?Saturday is the first (rescheduled) freeride event at Snowmass – show off your big mountain skills on the cliffs and chutes of the Burn Cliffs or the Headwall. It’s also the Highlands Inferno, for all those human lungs out there. This weekend also brings the Rocky Mountain Masters super G and downhill to Tiehack, open to anyone over the age of 21 on an FIS-rated course. It’s followed the weekend of Feb. 25 by the John Meyer Memorial Town Downhill, an extension of The Aspen Times Town Race Series, which continues with two more technical events in March. Intimidated? A downhill racing clinic is being offered on Thursday, Feb. 24 – where you can test your passion for going 60 to 70 mph on skis.I competed in both the freeride event – before they postponed it – and the town race series slalom, and I’m beat. But I can say one thing: I’ve found something to challenge myself and push my skiing to the next level. Now I just have to live up to that last statement.So, to all the locals awaiting bottomless powder: Come on out and compete while you’re waiting.
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A ski season surrounded with uncertainty kicks off on Wednesday. The six inches of new snowfall Tuesday will allow opening of an additional 62 acres on Aspen Mountain, bringing opening-day total to about 160 acres.