By Dave Potter
Opening day. It doesn’t matter if it’s baseball, basketball, football or skiing. It’s still the most anticipated day for any enthusiast. But unlike all those other sports, ours isn’t a set day with a specific date. We have to wait until Mother Nature blesses us with enough cold air to either make snow or have her send some of the natural stuff our way. This year we got lucky and we had both.
The hard workers at Holiday Valley had enough days and evenings with cold temps to start making snow early and Mother Nature blessed us (or cursed, if you live south of Buffalo) with some extra. When the Valley announced they would be opening Nov. 21 for a preview weekend, it sent waves of euphoria through my skiing buddies. Unfortunately for them, all of them had to work except for the Commander and me.
We quickly made our plans: tune the skis, check bindings and text our working friends to rub it in.
We got to the Valley early to ensure we would be one of the first to ride up the lift. A quick glance toward Yodeler revealed we wouldn’t be – apparently, other winter enthusiasts had begun lining up at 8 a.m. for the 9 a.m. start.
No matter. We quickly settled into our usual room in the bottom of Yodeler Lodge and started conversing with the “regular” group there as if only a couple of days had passed since we had last seen each other.
At 8:45, the Commander and I checked our gear and headed for the lift. Conversations with perfect strangers in line flowed smoothly, like we had all known each other for years. In a sense, we had. We were all diehard skiers and we were all excited and nervous about the beginning of the season.
We talked about how the conditions were amazing, about our gear, both new and old. Some of the older skiers, I guess that would include us, talked about aches and pains or the lack thereof.
Soon, with a loud shout from the crowd, the lift started. The first in line had the honor of skiing through a paper banner proclaiming the start of the 2014-2015 ski season and loaded onto the lift. There were whooping and hollering all the way to the top.
Even though I’ve been skiing for more than 45 years, I always wonder on the first ride up the hill if I’ve forgotten how to do this. I suspect that I’m not the only one to harbor this fear. Luckily, every year, it feels like I’ve never left the snow.
The conditions were fantastic! They were probably the best opening day conditions I’ve ever experienced. True, open trails were limited, but the ones that were open didn’t disappoint. We just kept cycling through them until it was beer and burger time.
If the opening day is any indication, it’s going to be a great season. The Regular Gang of Idiots and I look forward to it.