Merry Christmas!

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Your moment of zen:

Skiing with fire

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There are a million Christmas Eve traditions across the world; one of my favorites happens at Grand Targhee Resort. The night before Christmas skiers are invited to traverse down a green-circle slope holding torches. The effect is something like the image below: fire makes a braid across the snow. I’m sure Santa loves flying over Targhee.

Skiing is beautiful

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The movement is beautiful:

The technology is beautiful:

Every moment is beautiful:

How to be a ski bum

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What you’ll need: sicky pow-pow, big air

Songlist: anything by Snow Patrol, I’m Going Down by Bruce Springsteen

Further reading: Skiing and Snowboarding: Everything You Need to Know About the Coolest Sports

Today, December 19th, I look out into my backyard in Minnesota and am more than a little disconcerted. For I can see the ground. Not only is it visible, there is absolutely no snow even lightly dusting the grass. And while I don’t long for last year’s winter–there was approximately 10 feet of snow on the ground by this point–I am, as Bing Crosby so famously put it, dreaming of a white Christmas.

For a few years running, my family went on ski vacations in Wyoming for Christmas, where there was never a lack of snow. In fact, the ski resort we’ve always gone to, Grand Targhee, frequently has some of the best snow in the country.

I loved skiing as a kid but, being from Minnesota, I’d never understood what it was like to ski on a mountain. We learned on “Afton Alps” and at “Welch Village,” names that give quite a sense of grandeur to prairie hills.

Grand Targhee is different. On our very first day at the resort, a guide took us up on a Sno-Cat through acres of fresh powder and we schussed down through it all day long. At lunchtime we stopped at a little clearing with the Tetons just behind us. It was glorious. I remember the end of the day, thighs burning, falling into a deep pile of snow and being unable to get back up, yet grinning nonetheless.

As much fun as we had, I was a tiny bit jealous of the guide. I mean, he was getting paid to have this much fun. And he probably got to do it several times a week. I felt sorry for the other resort workers, the ones who had to man the chairlifts and rent out skis in the morning. But then I found out the incredible truth–they all got paid to play. Maybe they weren’t all lucky enough to be trail guides, but on their days off they could ski to their heart’s desire! I felt like I’d stumbled on a well-kept secret–wouldn’t everyone take this job if they had the chance? I assumed one day soon I’d be wearing the black-and-red Targhee jacket, helping skiers onto the lift and honing my technique in my down-time.

But now, I’m sad to admit, I haven’t been on a ski slope in four years. The job doesn’t seem quite as appealing anymore–a friend of mine works at Winter Park, Colorado and hasn’t spent Thanksgiving or Christmas with his family in four years–but I do miss the mountains. Someday soon I’ll be back in the powder, schussing away.

Grand Targhee trail map