Basking in the unusually warm late October sun today I was trying to get my head round the fact that before very long we’ll be praying for snow. And worrying about it.
Will there be enough for us to ski at Christmas? – a familiar cry, although my own take on this is: why should we assume that the heavens should unburden themselves of the white stuff just because the calendar says December 25? And yet when there’s often good late snow in late March and April, people’s mind-set has moved on to tennis and golf and ignore what can be some of the best conditions of the winter.
As we know, deep down, every winter is different and so we ski writers tend to smile inwardly when we are asked: “What’s the snow going to be like this winter?”
It’s almost as daft as the other question we get asked: “What do you do in the summer?”
Even though I skied in Sochi twice (on good natural snow) the year before the 2014 Winter Olympics, and also skied at PyeongChang in South Korea (also on real snow) before last winter’s Games, I honestly hadn’t realised that the snow in 2014 was extremely poor and even worse in PyeongChang this year, where not a single natural snowflake was skied on. Global warming – or at least Climate Change – is skiing’s big enemy of course. And yet, almost in the same breath, we’re told that some areas in the Alps are expecting “good snow”. As if anyone really knows.
I’m old enough to remember the bad snow years of the 1980s. The doomsayers back then were predicting the end of skiing as we know it. And yet Mother Nature bounced back. And even in the odd difficult year since, in the Dolomites for example, the quality of the man-made (can we still use that phrase? Human-made, perhaps) has been superb, so apart from not being able to ski off piste, it didn’t really ruin the skiing.
I once skied at Cloudmont, Alabama – perhaps the least likely US state to have skiing – and the owners told me they’d even had phone calls asking if there was snow on the roads preventing people from getting to the “resort”.
“Sir” they would be told…”we don’t make snow on the roads!”
So what’s my conclusion?
I don’t really have one. We must all hope for the best that there will be decent skiing this winter, but not necessarily before Christmas. And if there’s some good snow in April, let’s make full use of it. Tennis and golf can wait!
Christmas list alert:
Our contributor Arnie Wilson thinks you may enjoy the latest publication by Giles Whittell called ‘Snow’, We absolutely love this quote from the book:
“Snow has a lot in common with religion. It comes from heaven. It changes everything. It creates an alternative reality and brings on irrational behaviour in humans”
Arnie Wilson has skied 734 ski areas, including in all 38 US states that have ski areas.