I remember my first opening day at Winter Park Resort, fresh from 10 years of skiing in Europe (actually, 2-3 weeks every year for 10 years), and the ski gear to match.

I had arrived in town October 29th 1991, on a Greyhound bus, full of excitement and nervous apprehension as to whether I would get a job which would enable me to stay and ski for the season. Two days prior to this, I was down in Denver seeing the sights in t-shirt and shorts enjoying 70 degree weather. Overnight, temperatures dropped some 80 degrees, and I saw the same sights the following day in my ski jacket, hat and gloves, with the snow dumping down around me. It was then that a kiwi friend of mine Phil and I decided to head up to Winter Park on the recommendation of the lady that ran the launderette which was next door to the youth hostel where we were staying. The reason – Winter Park also had a youth hostel – so we could stay relatively cheap and job hunt at the same time.

We found jobs relatively quickly but managed to hang out at the youth hostel until we started. The snow which had started falling in Denver on October 28th was replicated 5 times over up in the mountains, and didn’t stop. While it meant for hard labor at the youth hostel, the ski area was being nicely set up for a great opening day. In fact, an amazing 50% of the resort was open, and we were skiing such runs as the Drunken Frenchman, Sterling Way and Phantom Bridge right from the off. Trouble was, my European experience hadn’t prepared me sufficiently for such conditions, not just under ski, but attire, so my ray-ban sunglasses and Bad Kleinkircheim headband didn’t quite do the trick.

However, today – 21 years on – they would probably work. We have blue sky, sunshine and I still have the sunglasses. Unfortunately, we only have 4 trails open for skiing, predominantly comprised of man-made snow, so all eyes are on long-range weather forecasts and the rest is down to hope and prayer for those who indulge. Anyway, the season is 159 days long so plenty of time to play catch-up.

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