While the ski season isn’t completely over yet, we can’t help but kick back in our armchairs and muse over its finer points. We’re feeling abundantly endowed with the thing that every one of us skiers and riders dreams of each evening: lots and lots and lots of snow this year. We’d never say there can be too much of a good thing, but quite a few resorts had some pretty insanely stout weather events this season.
The Down-Low on the Snow: It’s Been Deep.
Jackson, Wyoming, was completely shut down for days this February after a massive, windy snowstorm toppled 17 steel power poles and left both the airport and the Village without power. The ski resort was shut down for multiple days, with guests evacuated to nearby lodges. Several avalanches blanketed Teton Pass with up to 15 feet of snow, making commuters’ trek impossible for days.
Not to be outdone, the East Coast resorts had a supreme weather event with Winter Storm Stella in March. A true blockbuster storm, the blizzard dropped three to five feet of snow in New York, Pennsylvania, and Vermont (while rollicking coastal New England with hurricane-force winds). As they well should, East Coast skiers went totally bananas and dropped some hard-earned bragging rights on social media. Jay Peak, Mad River Glen, and Stowe all represented Vermont well with about 50 inches of snowfall each.
The West Coast and Rockies also fared exceptionally well over the course of the winter. California resorts were able to forget the muddy slopes of less fortunate years (see 2015), wallowing in a 10-foot storm in mid-January. Multiple resorts had to close down to catch up on snow removal, but nobody was complaining too much. The skiers who emerged at the end of #snowpocalypse2017 were beyond psyched.
Utah and Colorado helped themselves to their own fair share, with Snowbird logging 12 feet of snow in January and Crested Butte hitting 11 feet in the same month. Social media buzzed with slap-happy skiers who braved storm traffic, endured power outages, jousted with snow plows, and shoveled out their own doorways to get to the goods.
Moments of The Epic, the Cute, and the Scary
Meanwhile, the internet continued to humble all of us, with ever-younger skier and snowboarder baby videos showing up in our news feeds. For those of us who suck at snowboarding, this eight-month old showed us a few moves.
Alongside the epic snowfalls came some really scary close calls and a list of multiple avalanche fatalities, too. There have also been countless close calls—such as this fellow in Montana who took an exceptionally scary ride and was lucky to end up on top.
Times were lively in Utah as well; the epic storm totals made most people gun-shy, but two Snowbird employees ventured out on what seemed to be a safe day, only to experience a prodigious slide in a nearby backcountry area known as the Birthday Chutes. Skiers in Utah are still shaking their heads, weeks later, at both the scariness of the incident and the luck of the survivors.
A Vancouver avalanche victim also landed on the right side of luck when a group of experienced skiers happened upon the avalanche he’d been buried in. They helped his friends dig him out and await assistance, saving the skier’s life.
Heroism also made its way inbounds as well—in January, a man was spotted dangling unconscious from a chairlift at Arapahoe Basin. But a friend who happened to be an experienced slackliner managed to save him by climbing up the lift tower, shimmying along the cable, and freeing the dangling man.
That Went By Fast
The ski season’s flown by—and so have the most amazing professional riders and racers we admire. Lindsey Vonn became the oldest female skier to take the podium in the World Cup, and another top female skier, Marie Martinod, dominated the SuperPipe at the X Games in Aspen. Also at the X games, Snowboarder Max Parrot blew people’s minds by stomping the first quad underflip in the competition’s history. And in case you thought you knew what freeskiing is, just watch Candide Thovex repeatedly explode your notion of what’s possible—as he did yet again this year.
To top things off on the insane fitness front, backcountry skier Aaron Rice hiked and skied 2.5 million vertical feet, disintegrating the previous world record. This required skiing an average of 7,549 feet per day throughout 2016. We really hope he treated himself to a long spa day this January.
OK, you probably didn’t ski quite as much as Aaron Rice did, but hopefully you were able to get plenty of time out on the slopes. If not, you’ve now got a good number to shoot for next year.
Featured image provided by © Vail Resorts