Tom Ross: Is your avatar ready for ski season? |

Tom Ross: Is your avatar ready for ski season?

A group of Steamboat skiers gets a head start on the ski season at Mount Werner during the weekend as they climb past ghostly trees to earn their turns. Steamboat Ski Area will crank up the lifts Nov. 24.

I guess I’m probably the last skier on Earth — or for that matter, on Pandora — to watch the groundbreaking film “Avatar.” But we finally sat down to watch the 3-D sensation in 2-D on our old-school television last night.

The special effects were mind-boggling — I didn’t fall asleep until sometime in the final third of the film. And when I woke up from a short nap, and the movie still was running, I caught myself wondering how soon it will be before extreme ski movies are shot in 3-D. Can you imagine a snowboard slopestyle event right in your face?

Then it hit me. I need my own ski avatar — one with a lower center of gravity than mine so he can really blast through the powder bumps and land his airs in the fall line. Think about it, you awaken a little late on a powder morning, hustle into the next room and slip into one of those little tanning beds and the next thing you know, you’re streaking through Closet at Mach 1 with a rooster tail of snow streaming behind you. Dodging the aspens is no problem.

Steamboat already has received 56 inches of snow this season and the mountain opens in eight days. Do you know where your goggles and your pass are? More importantly, have you connected to your avatar yet?

If you had one, you’d be assured of shredding into your 90s. How cool would that be?

Until avatars become more affordable, I plan to continue with stretching exercises twice a week whether I need to or not. In the meantime, powder people in the ’Boat have much to be excited about.

I talked to three skiers today who have been logging vertical since October. One declined to reveal the location of his stash.

The lifts aren’t yet running on Mount Werner, but people were carving turns down Storm Peak Face all weekend. Word is the best snow was down lower, below the Four Points lift shack where the wind hadn’t gotten to the snowpack. One avatar said Twister and Hurricane were sublime.

To put the early season’s snowfall in perspective, the ski area reports that the 20-year average for November is 40.1 inches at mid-mountain. And it’s a good guess that in a typical year most of that comes during the final week of the month. Steamboat is well-known for its Thanksgiving powder dumps. One day, you find yourself worrying if we’ll have enough snow to open the slopes; 13 days later, you can’t quite remember a time when it wasn’t snowing.

The National Weather Service reports we’re due for a period of sunshine and mild temperatures late this week, but we still have time to add a 20-inch Turkey Day storm to our November total.

We had a lean Thanksgiving snow feast in 2007, with 23 inches for the month of November, and again in 2009 with just 25.5 inches. A fat November snow total occurred in 2005, when we had 83 inches at mid-mountain, leading to a season snowfall of 432 inches.

However, it doesn’t take a record November to have a 400-inch season. For example, 2007 was the year we put up a record 489 inches, with more than 100 inches falling in each of December, January and February.

Veteran Steamboat skiers and their avatars know that some of the best powder days of an entire season can come in November when the slopes are the least crowded.

As the Na’vi say: Tawsìp ngeyä lu sngeltseng!

Translation: Game on!

— To reach Tom Ross, call 871-4205 or e-mail

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