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Intro March 1994

One of the biggest cliches around is that skiing is a drug, but let’s face it, the sport gives you a buzz like no other. It’s a surge of adrenaline and freedom and happy cells all coursing through your blood, each pump of the heart sending a zimmer of electricity to the furthest outposts of your body, bringing you a clarity of mind and vision that feels like a whiff of dry ice and a blast of pure oxygen. Let’s see a drug do that.
Everybody gets their own individual buzz from skiing, and in a big year a whole town can get one. Last year was like that. Everywhere I went, it seemed, was on fire from the epic snowfall. I felt it standing in line at a bakery in Jackson, eating a cheeseburger at Grumpy’s in Mammoth, on the tram dock at Snowbird. It was a crackling energy, like the hum you feel standing under high-voltage towers, that sustained and carried skiers to a higher level of happiness and expectation.
This year started off slow, but then something happened in January that sent waves of industrial strength excitement throughout the ski world: 55 inches of snow fell on Alta, Utah, in 24 hours—a smashing new record. By the time the short-lived storm was over, 72 inches had fallen.
OK, a number’s just a number; you’re bombarded with snowfall and snowpack figures all winter long and eventually they blur into numerical soup. But stop and think about this one for a minute. Fifty-five inches in a day. More than two inches an hour for more hours than you have fingers and toes. Seventy-two inches in less than two days. Six feet of snow covering an entire mountain. Do you know what you can do with six flipping feet of snow?
I was in the office when Alta got pounded, which was pretty hard to take, but a couple days later I was in Vail, which wasn’t Alta but was better than not skiing, and in the lift line, at the cafeteria, and on practically every chair someone was talking about the dump. The conversation was usually brief. “Hey, did you hear about Alta?” “Yeah.” “Wow.” “Yeah.” Then everybody would fall silent, thinking about the ramifications. On one chair I closed my eyes and I felt the brisk air on my face, the rippling sunlight splashing on my eyelids as we flew past the tree tops. My arms and legs tingled, but mostly I felt it in my stomach and chest: a happy, fuzzy energy like what a tiger must feel when it’s been purring for a long time and suddenly stops.
That’s the best, don’t you think? I mean, we spend a lot of time, energy, and money making this magazine, talking about skiing, thinking about skiing, writing about skiing, all in the pursuit of keeping that buzz going, as much for ourselves as for you, and I think we do a pretty good job, overall, but when it comes down to it it’s not about writing or thinking or talking but skiing and that funny little buzz that keeps you going through the days, nights, and summers when you can’t ski. I can’t think of a happier time in my life than when I’m riding up a chair, thinking about what it can be, what it will be, what it is, and I can’t think of anything better than a 72-inch dump and the buzz that it brings.—Steve Casimiro

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