by Leslie Anthony
OK fine. So I missed my first opening day at Whistler Blackcomb in 14 years. It was bound to happen sooner or later, but having been stuck in Ontario when the rope dropped I still feel like I need to examine whether it really mattered or not.
A lot of opening days out here are ridiculous, notable for their surprisingly mid-winter-like conditions. A few years back we had an astounding and record-breaking five metres of snow in the month of November alone (the annual Nov.-May average is 10, but that year we saw 15), and opening days on both Whistler and Blackcomb were certifiably insane—skiing was open from peak to valley, with unprecedented full coverage and some runs open for the first time ever at that time of year. Missing those opening days would have seemed like buying a one-way ticket to Loserville.
There have probably been an equal number of underwhelming opening days, but, fortunately, the human mind is such that I don’t remember. Begging the question of whether opening day is about “epic” or simply about “open”? I’m going to say the latter with the former occasionally pouring gravy over the proceedings. An easement of sensibilities into a new season as opposed to being hit over the head with it. More of putting base to snow than snow to face. (Though we’ll take it if it’s there.)
Since “opening day” comes down to a ski area trope that has no real ontological status, maybe the idea of missing one is fraught with the same hollow philosophy—suggesting that opening day can also be whatever day you choose to start skiing.
I like that idea. After all, when it comes to skiing the sound of rationalization and the sound of meaning have always had a peculiar resonance.