Paul E. Anna: High Points |

Paul E. Anna: High Points

Paul E. Anna
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

At long last things around here have begun to change. And I don’t mean Dale Strode’s long-awaited return to the sports desk of The Aspen Times, though that has brought back some good tidings as well.

No, I’m talking about the apparent change in the weather patterns that have been afflicting us all season long. As of this writing on Thursday morn, there was about 10 inches of new snow reported on Snowmass with more than 20 inches in the last week. And it looks like there may be some more a-comin’ through the weekend.

And it’s not just that we have had a few flakes here and there, it feels and acts like maybe the door to the Pacific has parted just enough to point some of that cold moisture our way in the near future. That is surely something to celebrate.

On top of that, the big announcement came this week that we have reached the 100 percent mark for inbound trail openings. Getting the terrain fully open is a milestone achievement to be sure. It makes a statement that it is on for all skiers. But with snow levels still being way below average, be careful out there. Skico reported on its website Thursday morning that Aspen Mountain has a 33-inch base, Highlands is at 47 inches, and Snowmass at 56 inches. Yes, that is close to 5 feet underfoot at the top, but we all know that when we trek a bit into say, the Bowl or the Hanging Valley, that rocks can poke their tiny but solid crowns through the lowest snow levels.

But perhaps – hopefully – this is the start of a big change. We all remember and love those March days when we wake up to sun after a storm has dumped a ton the night before. March should be a succession of storms and sun, storms and sun, storms and sun. At least that is what it used to be. These have been strange times, however, and we can only hope to get back into that righteous pattern sooner rather than later.

Speaking of righteous, how cool was that Aspen Skier hockey victory on Saturday over the No. 1 ranked high school team in the state, Regis Jesuit, at the Lewis Ice Arena? Aspen has a long history as a great hockey town and the team is, like the weather, starting to get back to its groove. Finishing the regular season with a somewhat pedestrian record of 11-8 may not seem like much, but getting hot this time of year is what makes champions. They have improved weekly and now they get a chance against the No. 2 ranked team, Mountain Vista, on Friday night in Denver.

Go Skiers!

And let’s not forget to congratulate the Swirbuls for their dominating family performance in Winter Park at the State Skiing Championships. Hailey Swirbul took a pair of nordic championships home and her brother Keegan also won a state championship medal.

This time it’s way to go Skiers!

Both of these accomplishments coincide with Aspen Times sport editor Dale Strode’s return to the Roaring Fork Valley to cover the events. Coincidence? Maybe. But let’s keep it up and hopefully spring will be full of fine snow and many prep triumphs.

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