With the end of the season nearly upon us, methinks this might be a good time to look back and be thankful that we even had the opportunity to enjoy the mountains at all this year. Heck, there were several resorts in Europe that never opened due the pandemic. Adding insult to injury was the fact that the EU finally banned neon one-pieces. Anyway, at the end of the day, we had good snowpack, the chairs were spinning, and cold beer could still be had. While I am happy it all came together, there were a few things that I really missed this year.
Après Ski Beverages
Nothing, and I mean nothing, completes a great day on snow like throwing back a few adult beverages with your crew in the bar, especially if they are buying. Mix in a little karaoke of Pearl Jam’s Even Flow, and you got yourself one hell of a day. This year, however, was different. The bars were closed, though you could still purchase liquid courage for consumption in controlled areas outside.
That said, I quickly discovered that the walk from the bar across a slick deck in ski boots can be challenging while carrying shots. This certainly had nothing to do with the fact that my balance ain’t what it used to be as I approach the big 50. As a side note, nothing really gets the smell of spilled Jagermeister out of your pants.
Lodge Table Combat
During a “normal” season, one of my favorite people-watching venues is the lodge at lunch time. Few places so poignantly depict the true horror of humanity like a steamy lodge packed with sweaty teenagers, crying kids, and semi-intoxicated middle-aged adults who still think they are in their twenties.
As bad as that may sound, I really missed seeing it. I missed watching little Billy chucking a full Cup-O-Noodles at his sister while mom just gazed longingly at the peaceful slopes just beyond her reach. I missed watching the game the table lurkers played, waiting in the periphery to pounce on an open table the second it became available.
And I really missed the poor dads who got stuck in the lodge babysitting on a powder day, greeting every grinning, snow-encrusted skier who entered with a 1,000 yard stare that seemingly looked right through their souls. I feel ya bro—I’ve been there.
Strangers on the Chair
I really didn’t think I would miss the idle chatter with strangers on the chairlift, but, and I hate to admit it, I did on those days this year when I ventured to the hill alone. I really missed being told how I should look into getting new skis cuz mine are “too skinny,” or being enlightened on the location of the best powder runs, even though I know the mountain like the back of my hand.
I missed the smell of my unknown chairlift partner’s cigarette smoke that always seemed to drift right into me no matter which way the wind was blowing. Though the stench of an unfiltered Marlboro does work wonderfully to cover up the sickly smell of Kentucky sour mash whiskey breath.
Yeah, I’m hoping we get back to normal next year.
Brad Northrup is a former ski racer, coach, and ski bum. The CDC has recommended that you should stay as far away from him as possible.
[Feature photo by Aaron Theisen.]