Photos: Rachael Zimmerman
The allure of opening day is undeniable. For months, you’ve been anxiously awaiting the start of the season, counting down the days until the lifts start spinning. Resort marketing teams fuel this fire by blasting out social reminders ticking through the months/days/hours until the season starts. For weeks, your feeds are filled with pre-season stoke with more ‘Winter is Coming’ memes than you can handle.
And then, out of nowhere, your resort decides to open five full days early.
Well, at least that was the case for Aspen Snowmass. After receiving a healthy dose of early season snow, along with cooler temperatures perfect for snowmaking, Aspen was able to open on Saturday, November 17th. And with way more than just a white ribbon of death. Conditions were all-time, with top to bottom riding down 3,200 feet of vertical on 130 acres.
With such buildup for the start of the season, there’s plenty of ways to blow it on opening day. The last thing you want to do is end your season before it even starts. To determine what to do and what not to, we linked up with Aspen local, Morris Hogan. As an established snowboarder and man about town, Morris hasn’t missed an Aspen opening day since they first allowed snowboarders back in 2001.
Here’s his insights on how to make the most of day one of the season.
DOB: May 23, 1991
Setup: Jones Flagship,165W & Union T. Rice Bindings
Angles: I usually just eyeball it. Around +18ish and -3ish
Years Snowboarding: 22
Occupation: Certified Public Accountant (F*king nerd)
Celebrate the start of the season.
“Some place warm, a place where the beer flows like wine, where beautiful women instinctively flock like the salmon of Capistrano. I’m talking about a little place called Aspen.” Everyone, even our good buddy Lloyd Christmas, knows that Aspen is a party town, so it’s only proper to pop a bottle to celebrate the start of the season.
Send it too hard.
Yes, everyone is frothing and excited to take some turns, but you’re just getting back into it. You don’t want to over amp and break yourself. Easy, killer… There’s plenty of time to ease into the season.
Practice your carves.
Toss up some freaking snow and feel how good it is to rail on your edges. It’s been a minute since you’re enjoyed that sensation of sending snow, so enjoy it.
Jump over slow signs.
You know those guys wearing black and red? Yeah, they are cool and all, but if they see you send it over a slow sign, they’re probably going to want to give you a hard time, or maybe even clip your pass. Yikes, now you’ve really blown it.
Be lame and take the whole chair.
One of the beautiful things about Aspen is that lift lines are rarely an issue, even on opening day. But that still doesn’t mean you can take a whole chair to yourself. Ride up with someone new, and talk about all the things you’re excited for this season.
There’s no time like the present. Dive back into things and start the season off strong with a little pole tap. They’re less scary than you may think. And you’ll feel good that you gave it a go, even if you don’t land. (Morris did)
We don’t hold grudges, but we still remember when snowboarders were excluded and not permitted to slide on snow with skiers.. So just like a little friendly banter, it’s okay to spray your skier counterparts.. Just make sure you race away so they can’t spray you back.
We know there are plenty of other Do’s and Don’ts on opening day, like farting in the gondola… But how were we supposed to take that photo?
A little more from Morris:
How did this year’s opening day at Aspen Snowmass compare to others?
Significantly better than the prior two starts. Last year, Aspen opened with two chairs and barely a ribbon down the mountain. This year, they opened with conditions comparable to last January. Growing up, I recall opening days paired with storms that enabled a large portion of the hill to open up early, although these starts weren’t regular, they seemed to be a lot more common. In recent years, we’ve seen a lot higher temperatures and more irregular storm cycles causing opening day to be a total toss up!
What sets Aspen apart from other resorts?
Oh man! Theres a million reasons, but it’s probably a combination. The snowboard and ski community here is really tight and contains high level of talent. Everyone is super nice and charges. You can snag 3,200 vert in one 15 minute gondola ride, hit every aspect in a lap, and drink complimentary champagne while you pretend to shop for private jets at the base.
Soon all resorts will be open for the season. Are you ready?