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January 11, 2008

Playoff Intensity

Whenever a football team is eliminated from the NFL playoffs, its head coach always tries to salvage some meaning for the remaining games with motivational rationales like “Now we’ll see what kind of character this team has” and “We’re going to find out who wants to be here and who doesn’t.”

The theory is, it takes things to get really bad for the truly dedicated to separate themselves from the half-hearts, loafers and check-cashers. Because only a bona fide love for the game will keep you going at 100 percent when it seems like there’s nothing to play for.

Of course, here in Patriot Nation we haven’t had to worry about that sort of thing from our football team in a little while (Go Pats!). But on the slopes of Patriot Nation (i.e. New England), the sentiment holds true, especially during a ski weekend like the one that’s upon us.

Oh, things are bad. You know the score. About a half-dozen of the state’s ski areas chose to shut down temporarily during the week after rain and record warmth. Others roped off their steeper terrain. It wasn’t because of a lack of snow — the snow melts first in the Champlain Valley don’t forget; there’s still a solid base on the peaks — but rather a rock-hard refreeze that left some of the ungroomed stuff barely skiable.

By the time today’s expected rain event wraps up, there’s no telling what will be in store on the trails.

And at the risk of sounding like Mike Shanahan, if you’re a skier or snowboarder, you’re about to find out a little bit about yourself. If you’re one of the die-hards heading out, buckling up and tackling the conditions that be — rainstorm, refreeze or what have you — count yourself among the elite.

If not — if you’re planning to lay low this weekend and wait until things improve (which, word has it, won’t be very long) — well, I wouldn’t blame you a bit. After all, there will be some sweet NFL playoff action to take in.

For the hard cores, here’s what’s in store on the slopes:

A slopestyle competition at Stowe and a terrain park contest at Smuggs on Saturday. Both great fun for competitors and spectators alike.

A big day of snowshoe rentals and tours at and around Mad River Glen (you might want to call ahead on that one.)

And off the hill, the Ski Rack’s annual swap in Burlington.

January 11, 2008 at 08:26 AM | Permalink

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