Waiting for Winter
It’s a tough time to be a skier in the upper Midwest -- to know the snow will be here soon but not to know exactly when. I’m trying to make the best of this time between the seasons by putting a few kilometers on my roller skis and clearing my ski trails. The snow is bound to come, but I’m a bit concerned that its now Thanksgiving weekend and there’s still no storm on the horizon. With an average of 45 inches of snow each year, we’re already near the border of the skiable country. As the climate changes, the boundary with the snowless plains seems to move ever closer. This isn’t the Alps or Scandinavia where snow depth is measured by the meter -- we value every inch that comes our way.
Maybe it’s the uncertainty that makes every ski season seem special here. Somehow, despite inconsistent snow, Minnesota supports a thriving ski community, hosts multiple ski marathons, and has a few of the best skiers in the world call it home. What our region lacks in natural and dependable snowfall, we more than make up for with our ingenuity (and reliably chilly temps). Frost-covered lawns are a good place to teach a kid to ski. Frozen lakes with a dusting of snow make for good early-season classic skiing. Bare spots along the trail can easily be filled in with some shoveling. And increasingly, snowmakers are improving our trail conditions, giving us a place to ski as we wait for Mother Nature to officially open the season.
It shouldn’t be long now. Sometime soon, a low-pressure system will form over Colorado and set its sights on the upper Midwest. If everything is just right, it will collide with the arctic air sitting over Minnesota and moisture coming up from the Gulf of Mexico, and a heavy band of snow will fall on our waiting trails. Then, we ski.