Boreal And the White Ribbon of Death


By Jim Ferrigno

Few things can put life into perspective like air travel. It’s one of the few instances in which we, as customers, will subject ourselves to headaches, heartaches, backaches and assaches, and still shell out top dollar for the abuse. And as I sat in the New York JFK airport after somehow missing my flight by three days, bent over the counter with my pants around my ankles awaiting the comically large dollar sign that was about to be inserted into my rectum by our friendly friends at the airline, I couldn’t help but draw the parallels between air travel and opening day.

As snowboarders we are, in a rough manner of speaking, junkies.  We are creatures of habit, bound by a love so great that we would trek fifty miles into the Sahara on camelback if we heard that there were snow to be had.  We hide ourselves from the hot summer sun under stacks of videos and magazines that pile up over the seasons. We subscribe to the NOAA weather maps, watching the radars and systems as if we actually had any idea what the hell they meant. Most of all, we wait. We wait for the signs of the coming winter. The distinct buzzing of snow guns, the smell of burning wood in the cold night air. . .

Then it finally happens, we get the word that our local shred hill has opened early for the season. We scrounge up all the old, sweaty, stinky gear we can muster and set up makeshift bazaars in the parking lots in hopes that we can earn enough to buy that coveted opening day lift ticket. We spend anywhere from $30-$60 for a chance to be one of the first to ride on the fresh snow that has accumulated under the arsenal of the snowmaking crew. We stand in line for twenty minutes or more, herded like cattle to the slaughter through the mazes of orange ropes and bamboo poles.  And for what you ask? For a chance at the three turns, four boxes, rutted takeoffs and mud-soaked landings.

When I arrived at Boreal it had already been open for three days. The parking lot resembled the crowded lots of the East Coast city I had left behind. The wear on the modest patch of snow was obvious. But still, nobody complained. As I rode the chair up, I was amazed. Boreal had posted its earliest opening on record on October 9th, after blowing snow for little more then a week. The park crew had managed to obtain enough early-season manpower to put up five boxes and a stall wall spread across a maybe 100 yard long, 25 yard wide patch of snow littered with mud-mines and rocks. But all the while the stoke was obvious. People came out in hordes and flocked to the patch of snow like bugs to the zapper. It didn’t matter that there was barely enough snow to even be called snow anymore. Nobody cared that the boxes had exposed mud patches directly in the landings. Everyone was just there, and that was enough for them.

That’ s when it dawned on me. It doesn’t matter whether your opening day is a top-to-bottom miracle or a patch of mud and pine needles in your backyard. It’ s simply about being there. And all of the pain, all of the money, and all of the headaches you’ve endured just make it that much more worth it when you crank down those ratchets and realize that this is the earliest you’ve gotten out in years. If only the light at the end of the airport terminal were that bright.


4 replies
  1. bakesale
    bakesale says:

    Yep been there done that. It’s always good times. The tow rope and the 2 min ride, the kids building a small jump thats half snow half dirt, the smiles on all our faces at the end of the day.

  2. Jimbo
    Jimbo says:

    Hahaha, I didn’t fly out from NY just for that. I live in Tahoe and I was in New York for a close friends wedding….

    They dont pay me…. well anything to be flying that far for an article

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