Fling Into Spring

It’s time to bust out the sunglasses, sunscreen, and flowered wind-shirt from the That’s So 70s pile.

As I sat on a cold gondola in China, swinging sideways in a gusty wind over a rocky chasm, I closed my eyes and went to my happy place. I was in China covering the 2022 Olympic Winter Games and taking this gondola one last time to an alpine venue dubbed “The Rock.”

While you might think the Olympics would be a happy place, it was not this go-round. At least not for me. It was cold. Damn cold. And that’s coming from someone who learned to ski in the Northeast Kingdom back when winter was winter. Shivering under two down coats, two layers of long underwear, and whatever was left of my wardrobe that didn’t stink, I sat in the gondola and let my mind carry me back to Vermont. To spring skiing on a warm, sunny day. To the snow corning up, the scent of sunscreen in the air. This was what I was looking forward to after I returned home — and maybe a couple days of powder skiing, too. 

March is, in my opinion, the best month to ski and ride. The sun is finally high enough in the sky to bathe the north-facing slopes in glorious light. And while people ‘down country’ might be dusting off their golf clubs, up here in Vermont, March can bring prodigious snowfall. Like in 2001, when 47.6 inches of snow fell in successive weekly storms. Or in 2017, when 36.8 inches kept us skiing well into May. And those historic totals were measured in Burlington. Surely more fell in the mountains.

March is the reason I get myself up to the slopes on frigid (or, gah, rainy) days in January — so I have the legs to ski either deep and/or soft spring snow.

Then, as March turns to April, I often segue into my next favorite spring pastime: sitting at the umbrella bar watching others try to be olympic mogul skiers like our own Hannah Soar or Donna Weinbrecht, mashing in the soft, slushy bumps on Superstar. It’s like dinner theater, without the dinner. But with a beer or two instead.

This year, a couple of spring events on Killington’s calendar caught my eye. As always, there’s the annual Bear Mountain Mogul Challenge (speaking of watching Hannah Soar/Donna Weinbrecht wannabes). That’s a given — as much a rite of spring as mud in the parking lot.

But there were two other events that I found even more intriguing. 

On March 20, Killington fans can toast the old Killington base lodge at the K-1 Teardown Party. While we won’t be provided sledgehammers and sawzalls to begin the demolition, Killington will let fans sign a memory wall and bid on the xit that’s hung on the walls since the place was built in skiing’s Middle Ages. (As for xit, that’s my own Chinglish word.)

Then on April 16, we can all be Dazed and Defrosted. It’s not so much an event as a name for my favorite spring pastime: skiing (flailing in) soft bumps, then watching others ski (and flail) while we sip cold brews and listen to live music — ironically sponsored by Bud Light Seltzer. C’mon people, be real Vermonters. Drink beer!

The only difference between my normal fun spring day at Killington and the official Dazed and Defrosted day is that Killington encourages us to wear our “finest spring attire.”

Which means I can leave the two down jackets, overworn long underwear at home, and last of the toe warmers at home. It’s time to bust out the sunglasses, sunscreen, and flowered wind-shirt from the That’s So 70s pile. 

Then I’ll go ski the corn on Superstar. It’s my happy, happy place.

Peggy Shinn is an eighth-generation Vermonter, writer for TeamUSA.org and recent inductee into the Vermont Ski & Snowboard Hall of Fame. Her column “Vermontness” will be published regularly throughout the year. If you like it, please let her know.

Peggy Shinn is an eighth-generation Vermonter, writer for TeamUSA.org and recent inductee into the Vermont Ski & Snowboard Hall of Fame. Her column “Vermontness” will be published regularly throughout the year. If you like it, please let her know. Just don’t look too lustfully at her World Cup VIP parking pass.

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