Winter is almost upon us, and with it, we’ll resume the ski column for another season. It essentially stopped snowing last winter around March 1, so there is a lot of early season energy with people chomping at the bit ready to go. We survived a long, dry, hot summer and it’s going to be refreshing checking the web for snow reports instead of current fire danger.
It’s a great year to get an Eldora pass, as the resort is celebrating its 50th anniversary. If you are planning on skiing Eldora this winter, you’ll want to get on your pass purchase soon, as the price will rise after this Sunday, Oct. 21. An adult full-season pass currently costs $409, and adult midweek $299, a junior pass (ages 13 to 17) $289, a children’s pass (ages 6 to12) $189 and a nordic pass is $279. A bunch of other pass options are available at eldora.com. Eldora hasn’t announced how much the price will rise after Oct. 21, but it’s historically been in the $20 to $40 range.
If those prices are a bit on the steep side, there is always the option of picking up a part-time job at the mountain and earning yourself a dirt cheap (or even free) season pass. Eldora is hosting its job fair Saturday, Oct. 27, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. For an aspiring ski bum, the trick is figuring out which jobs will offer maximum ski time. In terms of being on snow, it’s hard to beat ski patrolling or ski school. There is a caveat though: patrolling requires a fairly extensive medical background and actual work to pay the bills can be hard to come by for a new ski school instructor.
As of this writing no ski resorts in Colorado are open yet, but by the time you read this, they could be. Traditional “first-to-open” powerhouses Arapahoe Basin and Loveland Basin are blowing snow 24-7, and they’ve been joined this year by Copper Mountain. Assuming the weather cooperates and the nature gods keep offering up cold, dry nights at least a couple of those should open by this weekend.
This is the time of year to grab gear out of the attic and see what needs repairing or replacing. If you do need new gear, this might be the single best season in the past two decades to purchase it. Most retailers over-bought gear last year, projecting sales numbers based on the record-breaking 2010-11 snow season. While there was great skiing locally to be had last winter, from a retail standpoint, the year was something of a disaster as the big resorts were fairly devoid of snow.
As such, people didn’t buy ski gear, which meant the retailers ended up boxing up last year’s gear, storing it for the summer, and then brought it back out this autumn. The problem is, they’ve also got new gear for the upcoming season arriving as well, and they are going to have a hard time selling it until the old gear is out the door. All these factors add up to a large amount of last year’s — yet still brand new — ski gear being sold for prices right around wholesale.
Speaking of retail, a great new ski shop in town is over at Tin Shed Sports. This will be an amazing resource for skiers in the local community. The shop is still transitioning from bike-mode to ski-mode, but word is they’ll be carrying a solid line-up of backcountry gear and giving some of the best ski tunes in town. Owner Marcus Luscher is an ex-ski racer with a meticulous eye for performance perfection and a passion for hand-tuning skis. It’s a sure thing that your boards will get impeccable treatment if you bring them into Tin Shed to get tuned.
Gear won’t do you much good if your body isn’t in shape for the season. It’s critical to build strength and flexibility this time of year to improve your skiing and stay injury free. Focus on leg and core strength and solid aerobic endurance. If you have a gymnasium membership, great, but a lot of this stuff can be done outside or in your own home for free. We’ll discuss some more specific ski exercises in next week’s column.
What about this upcoming winter? It seems that with climate change our winters are trending towards, well, complete chaos. In 2010 to11 Colorado was graced with a record-breaking snow season. Then 2011to12 was one of the worst years on record, but it wasn’t consistently bad. Last February was one of the best on record, but it was followed by the worst-ever March. The prevalent La Nina cycle of the past couple seasons has shifted to a weak El Nino pattern, but historically speaking this offers little in the way of concrete answers about how this winter will play out.
If you are looking for more defined answers, snow forecasting guru Joel Gratz is giving his expert winter prediction at Neptune Mountaineering in Boulder tonight, Oct. 18 at 8 p.m. Gratz runs a website called opensnow.com that does a nice job siphoning through the weather charts and giving this information to skiers in laymen’s terms. If nothing else, the talk should be worth plenty of chairlift fodder this winter when things go absolutely not according to forecast!