Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Ahh, the life of the east coast skier...

If there was a classified job ad for becoming an Eastern Skier during Christmas Week, it might read something like this:
Eastern Skiers Wanted for Holiday Skiing: must have sharp edges, ability to make the most of any ski conditions, highly developed sense of irony and a deep yearning for soft snow. Must be willing to drive long hours and line up for ski conditions that would cause a western skier to get in the car and go home. Should not be fazed by rocks, twigs, grass or gravel on runs of any level. Skiers with pristine bases need not apply.
Hi, I'm SBR and I'll be your tour guide in my new red jacket!
This Christmas Week, many eastern skiers were interviewed and hired for the job. In five days at Jay Peak, we experienced full-on brutal winter, wind, strange in-between winter weather, spring and even a bit of late spring conditions. In fact, everything but the glorious powder day. The Jay Peak snow report even admitted to "wind scoured" conditions on day two. We weren't sure if this was a new kind of grooming or perhaps a bad thing. The good news was that lines were minimal, we found good snow around the margins and if you didn't mind fast, firm conditions, the skiing was pretty fun.

A short summary from the SBR point of view:
Dec. 27 - Too cold for pics. Sunny. Very windy. Tram and Freezer on wind hold. Skiing fast and scrapy, good on the edges.
Hey, let's go up the Tram!
Dec. 28 - Weather as above except snowing a bit. Tram on wind hold. Freezer freezing.
Dec. 29 - Temperature better. Almost zero visibility due to freezing rain / snow / wind / snowmaking fog.  Freezer loading every second chair due to "slippage" (according to lifties). Could this have been due to the fact that the snow guns were blowing snow on the cables? Skiing as above, much better on natural snow runs like Derick and Liftline (bumpy and fun). Jonny Jay demonstrated the iconic Jonny Jay Jet Turn on the JFK. Taxi was a horrorshow of ice and stumbling snowboarders. Haynes was a skating rink on a tilt. Big Show bruised his ribs performing the new "rollover recovery technique" on Haynes (ejected and landed chest-first on his binding. Ouch).
The nephews question Uncle SBR's judgment on the Tram ride idea.
Dec. 30 - Total weather change. Sunny, warm, spring conditions. Haynes still icy. Goat unusually excellent. JFK, Derrick, Kitz all bumpy and soft. Grooming minimal but snowguns going full blast. JJ, Throckmorton, Gollum, and I skied Kitzbuhel and it was "run of the day" for all of us. I was very impressed with how well Gollum was skiing on his new rockered skis. Hmmm. There may be something to this rocker thing.
And then the sun appeared!
 Dec 31 - Raining in the morning but the weather cleared up quickly. GM Boys finally opened. The freshly packed human-made snow there was the consistency of mashed potatoes but fast and fun. JJ, I and the great-nephews skied Valhalla. What a mistake! Nobody was hurt. The glades are skiable but not quite ready for prime time.

Quotes of the week: 
1) 15 year-old Gollum and I took a few runs late in the day after the others quit. We did Liftline again, he said to me: "I love skiing moguls." This from a kid skiing on park skis with tip and tail rocker, listening to Eminem on the ear-buds.

2)  On the Tram, on the rainy morning of New Year's eve, the upper windows are open for ventilation. Rain is coming in and soaking those of us in the front half of the tram car. Some wag comments: "they must be getting us ready for the waterpark!"

Getting ready to do the RFID dance in the Flyer line-up

Then there was the RFID...
We all got our new RFID tickets in various forms, some Jay Cards, some season passes and a few 581 cards. Everybody at Jay Peak was trying hard to love this new technology. When it works, it's easy. The paddles flip and you pass through the gate and board the chair. Every now and then it doesn't quite work and you have to do the new "Jay Dance," a little hopping up and down number that magically causes the gate to open. I had my pass in my pants pocket and on the rainy day, one lifty even suggested that I rub my leg against the plastic scanner thing to get it to read. Lo and behold, it worked. The jury is out and we remain optimistic on this technology. Personally, I hope the 581 card gets some convenience factor added in so I don't have to get in line for a new ticket every day.
We skied Liftline a lot more than usual - it was in great shape.
Blue Toes schusses the hardpack on Ullr's. The West Bowl looks invitingly sunny.
Jonny Jay likes his new skis, now that they stay on his feet.
A young hot-shot on the Derick Hot-Shot. There was some hardscrabble.