After months of suffering through approximations of nordic skiing that certifiably suck most of the time, real snow is upon us. Every Thanksgiving, what seems like the entire American ski universe descends upon a tiny town on the border of Montana and Wyoming to experience the official start of the season we all worship. This is the West Yellowstone Ski Festival.
I’ve spent every November since I was 16 wishing I could be amongst those making the pilgrimage to the Rendezvous Trails. Now that I’m here, I feel like a kid on Christmas morning. People who’ve been here eight years in a row may find the carnival-like crowds a drag, but I couldn’t stop smiling at the sight of so many people in one place just melt with happiness as their skis made contact with perfect snow.
The SuperTour starts this week, too. It’s the first time elite skiers from all over the country face off against each other to see if their hard work throughout the off-season has paid off.
The start of the domestic race season is a big deal, to be sure, and is a significant part of the festival’s draw. We’ll be covering it closely. But the West experience is so much more than a series of early season races. You can ski out the door, down the street, and to the trailhead—and not even on your worst pair! You see people you haven’t seen since March. As for the people you don’t know, well, they’re skiers—you still feel as if you’re Thanksgiving with hundreds of your closest friends.
For some, the rest of the winter may be all about eat-sleep-train, but for this week, at least, it’s also about falling in love with skiing all over again.
Audrey Mangan (@audreymangan) is an Associate Editor at FasterSkier and lives in Colorado. She learned to love skiing at home in Western New York.