photos: Aaron Lu

There’s been a kind of cascade effect across most of North America recently, as far the ski season is concerned. After Arapahoe Basin opened for the winter, Killington and Sugarloaf followed suit on the east coast, and Trollhaugen, among others, came through for the Midwest. Grouse opened, and so did Saint Sauveur, and there’s snow in the backcountry. In a kind of anxious rush the 2014 season kicked off – comparatively early but that much more stoke-worthy for it. On Sunday at St. Bruno it was hard not to get caught up in the fever.

In celebration of the early start and maybe as an opportunity for some good PR, the folks at St. Bruno set ticket prices for Sunday at 50 cents by donation.

A quick image search reveals the splendour of St. Bruno

On our way we stopped for coffee and processed breakfast sandwiches at the restaurant attached to the gas station in town, and looked over to where the ski hill rises (in relative terms here) above the surrounding area. It was around 11:30 when we arrived, and the parking lot was full of skiers from every demographic committed or neurotic enough to be skiing on a Sunday morning in November, with the snow pack registering in the single-centimeter range.

This rail was great, man

On the hill there’s a kind of euphoric uncertainty that goes along with skiing again for the first time in a long time. Like you’re not quite sure if you’ve still got the muscle memory to recite your full arsenal of tricks, or if you maybe should have bothered to check the last time you waxed your skis before you left the house this morning. It manifests itself in the semi-frantic way in which skiers attack the terrain they’ve been allowed access to again. As if it all came rushing back at once, how unbelievably pleasing it is to go skiing, and before you wake up dead you might as well seize upon the opportunity to love each moment of it. It’s the kind of feeling that also produces inflated metaphors and tedious hyperboles about skiing-as-raison d’être.

Plenty of missed swaps and flailing arms

Around noon, a guy in an official jacket announced to the assembled crew of skiers and snowboarders that, if we were willing to respect his staff and the hill, the rail line would be declared open. Somebody jeered at him from the back of the crowd and he moved on.

The ensuing session was hectic, and completely gratifying. There were dozens of collisions and close calls and narrowly swerved-around tangles of skiers crumpled at angles in the ever-deepening bathtubs at the end of each rail.

This is stupid, and fun

An entire summer’s worth of switch ups and spins-in and –out were thrown in the span of four hours and a few hundred square feet. It was like a release of collective energy none of us realized we’d been repressing. C-Bo was there, in the sort of cosmic twist I’m becoming increasingly receptive to. Paw goggles to the world. There were even four guys on snowskates who, despite their full-face helmets and sheer stupidity, earned some grudging respect from the rest of us. Just don’t go preaching the virtues, you fucking weirdos.

So anyway, it’s mid-November and the season is on. And maybe it’ll rain again next week and we won’t see good snow until January, but all that’s beside the point right now because the hill is open and life is good. It’s silly and it’s juvenile, but three rails and a chairlift make it hard to wipe the dumbass grin off your face. The dad with no poles riding 165 salomon’s probably put it best as we pushed off from the top of the chair: ouais, bonne saison a toi.