Photo Credit: Casey Day, Loveland Ski Area
Few days throughout the ski season inspire as much stoke and joy as Opening Day in Colorado. And few other days bring out all walks of life in the snow sports community. The most excitable and most interesting people can be found scattered across the lifts and slopes of Opening Day in Colorado. Here are a few of the ones you might meet:
The Gear Head
You can tell the gear head by his brand new, well, everything. He’s got this year’s Smith goggles, brand new Patagonia jacket with matching pants, and the newest Volkl skis. He drove up from Denver this morning in his Audi and has been waiting in line since 6 am. He’ll only get in a few runs so we can get back down to warmer weather and ride his $5,000 road bike for a few hours. He’s great company on the chairlift and is always willing to swap stories of all the mountains he’s skied. Despite being in way better shape than you, you pass him on every run while he makes short, overexaggerated turns.
The Good Ol’ Local
This guy has been skiing this ski area for more than 40 years, since back in the “glory days” of the resort and hasn’t updated his gear since then. In decades-old gear, no helmet and only a big white beard covering his face, he’s braved the cold in line since before the sun came up with only a mug of black coffee. He may be grumpy in the lift line, but get him talking about his favorite ski areas from back in the day, and he’ll warm up quickly. Once you hit the slopes you might be able to go faster than him, but with every pass you’ll realize you’ll never be as good as him. Make friends with The Good Ol’ Local and you’ll quickly learn where the best runs are, but you better get there early if you want to meet him, because he’ll be off the slopes by 10 AM.
The Ski Bum
Rolling up to the ski area after 11 AM, the ski bum often fills in the parking spots vacated by the Good Ol’ Local. The Ski Bum may look disheveled, but she’s there for a good time and is likely to be having the most fun of anyone there. Her jacket and pants are probably slapped with duct tape to keep her going another season or two, but the new skis or snowboard under her feet, and the massive smile on her face, display her dedication to the sport. Though the Ski Bum is more than willing to share a warm PBR with you, good luck getting a chair with her as Ski Bums always travel in packs. After the lifts stop turning, the Ski Bum can be found in the parking lot strapping her $400 skis onto her $350 car.
The Patio Dweller
Not often seen on the slopes, the Patio Dweller spends most of his time at the bar. Not one to rush, the Patio Dweller takes his time getting his first few turns in, knocking back a Bloody Mary or two first. Perhaps the easiest of the Opening Day crowd to befriend, the Patio Dweller is always welcoming to anyone willing to sit for a little and have a drink. Though the Patio Dweller may not get the most runs in throughout the season, he will most certainly have the best goggle tan.
The Park Rat
Head to toe in bright colors, the Park Rat is never hard to find. The triple XL Lakers jersey, sagged snow pants and giant Skull Candy headphones, paired with twin-tipped skis and poles built for a toddler are the calling cards of this opening day creature. The Park Rat is there for one thing only, to lap the terrain park, hitting the same three features over and over. Thinking of jibbing the only rail in the park? Watching the Park Rat, who is probably half your age, land a perfect switch 180 nose press may change your mind. Don’t let their confidence or peacock-like coloring dissuade you, however, these guys are quick with encouraging words and shouts of appreciation when you do something cool.
The Gorilla Suit
No opening day is complete without the classic Gorilla Suit. Determined to inspire as much fun as possible, the Gorilla Suit braves backsweat and restricted peripherals to bring a little bit of goofiness and joy to the lift line. Despite communicating mostly with grunts and growls, the Gorilla Suit is always easy to get along with, as long as you’re not wearing a banana costume…
Likely dragged to Opening Day by a friend—probably one of the above—The Casual is just happy to be there. He may not have the newest or nicest gear, but he’s the least likely to complain about lines or conditions. His skiing is adequate, if a bit sloppy, but he is always open to suggestions on how to improve. The Casual is easy to get along with and fun to have on the lift, even though his stories of stokage probably aren’t anything to write home about. When encountering The Casual always remember, we all started somewhere.