For some skiers, spring is a tragic emergence of tulips and aspen leaf buds. In a fairer version of the universe, as they may see it, winter powder days would still be going strong. But other skiers embrace spring skiing as the last on-snow hurrah before summer sets in.
Spring skiing is its own particular art to master and enjoy. Go in with rookie moves, and you’ll trip all over yourself on the sticky snow and get a flashy red raccoon-eye sunburn. But approach the event with a few tricks up your sleeve, and you’ll be primed to give the last days of the ski season the respect the sport deserves. Here, a checklist to get you perfectly primed for spring skiing, in Salt Lake City and beyond.
1. Do you have a fresh coat of wax on your sticks? (And more in your bag?)
And if you don’t, do you like the awkward start’n’stop of hitting warm slush pockets? Nobody likes that. So hit up your local ski shop and request a warm-weather wax job, and at the checkout counter, make like a smartypants and buy a little container of rub-on wax to keep in your pack or car.
2. Do you have sunscreen—the good stuff?
So here’s the scoop: If you live, work, and play among fellow ski bums, a goggle tan is totally unremarkable. If you have a day job or associate with more cleanly groomed, nine-to-five humans, you’ll be asked about your goggle tan about 27 times per day. So unless you want every coworker and bank clerk to say “Gee, been skiing?”, just keep your fair-skinned mug unburnt and un-racooned. Keep high-SPF sunscreen in your pocket and refresh regularly.
3. Are you dressed for the occasion?
Many folks seek attention (and get sunburns in unmentionable places) by skiing underdressed or even in their birthday suits. Great for funny photos, but horrible when you inevitably crash. (Someone inexperienced enough to ski in a bikini or shorts probably also doesn’t have spring wax on their skis.)
Spare yourself the indignity of grating all the skin off your backside when you fall, and choose an ensemble that covers your skin but perhaps has a dash of seasonally appropriate flair, like a funny shirt or tutu. Then trade your beanie for a ballcap, and you’re ready to go.
4. Have you adequately researched on-snow beer-toting methods?
‘Tis the season to swap your Thermos of hot toddy for a nice cold tall boy. A small backpack or oversized coat pockets will do just fine for carrying a PBR for yourself, plus one for the most attractive person you share a lift ride with during the day. With a little smidge of booze in your system, you can forget that powder and corn really aren’t quite the same thing.
5. Have you adjusted your ski schedule from mid-day to early-bird?
Spring snow is a fickle, shape-shifting temptress. First thing in the morning, you’ll carve pleasant, fast corduroy. Then you hit a brief window of consistent corn snow, now softened from its overnight freeze. Then, the fun ends abruptly when temps heat up just enough for the slushmonster to come out and stop everyone’s skis in their tracks. This is when everyone goes in for lunch … then never goes back out.
So don’t show up at the resort at your usual post-brunch hour. That’s a quick recipe for missing the fun boat. Show up for first chair and enjoy the corduroy and corn, then transition to tailgate mode.
6. Have you selected a suitable party posse?
Since spring days are a little light on quality skiing and heavier on the social and sunshine aspects, you’ll want to choose the right people to spend the day with. Your spring ski posse doesn’t have to shred hard as much as they need to be fun to giggle and throw slushballs with.
7. Is your vehicle prepped for parking lot shenanigans?
Spring calls for the two-hour ski day and four-hour tailgate program. At many resort parking lots and base areas, this means you'll want to come ready with a portable barbecue, grillables, a cooler full of drinks, camp chairs, and snacks. Bonfire supplies would not be inappropriate.
It’s hard to top a premium winter powder day. But if winter insists on going away each year, you may as well give it a hell of a sendoff. See you in the parking lot, and let the countdown to the 2015/'16 season commence.