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Lise Waring Headshot

Embracing a Telluride Blizzard

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It's dumping Telluride. In other words, we're getting pounded. It's nuking, hammering and puking. (Ski town locals have almost as many terms for snow as the legendary Inuit.) Last night we received a foot of snow, and the fluff continues to pile up. I know that fresh snow in most places means something different: public transportation schedules fall apart, schools close and general chaos ensues. It's different here. Because we're a ski town, our buses and the gondola run regularly. The kids are at school. This frenzy is welcome.

There are distinct sounds that accompany snowfall in mountain towns: Drivers scrape their windshields; snow shovelers clear the sidewalks; lifties (those who help load skiers into chairlifts) swat each chair's seat with a broom as it swings around the bullwheel, and grooming machines will roar across the mountain tonight. A big storm that hits just a few weeks before the holidays means that Colorado is in the news, which, in turn, makes phones ring. Central Reservations is busy with bookings for hotel packages and the local helicopter skiing company and sled dog tour operator are scheduling trips.

People are smiling. From ski bums to restaurant owners, a strong storm is something to celebrate. Currently, US ski cross athletes are on our mountain training, and next week, the US World Cup snowboardcross and parallel giant slalom athletes will compete here in a qualifier for the winter Olympic games. These riders and skiers like snow almost as much as, well, gold medals. (Full disclosure: Fresh snow causes more work for those who prepare the courses, but this blizzard enforces an old adage that declares, "If you want to ski powder, host a ski race.") Sure, there're a few folks who aren't rejoicing. The construction crew that's framing a new house down the street, for example, isn't having an easy day, but their troubles will slip away this weekend when they hit the slopes.

This isn't the first dump of the winter in Telluride, but this storm's size and timing is critical. This is the snow that pads the mountain's base and is the difference between economic hardship for a ski town or a winter of success. In a town with a history rich in mining, a blizzard is what modern-day Telluriders call "white gold."

The snowplow just drove by my house and buried the path to my front door again. I have to go shovel now, but, believe me, I'm not complaining.