Mother Nature has been a bit stingy with the snow this winter, but this season, more than any other I can remember, the lack of snowfall has somehow translated into more flakes on the mountain. And by flakes, I'm talking about tourists.
Don't get me wrong, we love the tourists. They pump buckets full of cash into our economy. They put us on the international map. We have services and attractions -- like a free bus system and an Olympic park -- because they come for a week every winter. And when they leave, we can finally afford dinners on Main Street with the two-for-one coupons we're graciously offered because the visitors paid a 900-percent profit for a piece of somewhat-rubbery chicken.
But for all of the reasons the tourists benefit us, they can also befuddle and frustrate us. Maybe it's the cold, or the thinner air, or just the excitement of clicking into rental skis, but it's like they leave their brains at home when on a ski vacation.
This weekend whilst on a chairlift I was asked by a friendly tourist from Phoenix, among other head-scratching questions, "What do they do with the moguls in the summer?" And, "At what elevation do the deer turn into elk?"
I tried not to laugh. Many years ago I was a vacationer too, and I may or may not have been wearing my mom's rear-entry ski boots, circa 1982, to save $50 on a rental pair. But I received some stern lessons from a friend who was a local (and probably embarrassed to be seen with me) and shaped up pretty quickly.
So even though ski season is winding down, I'd like to share some of those important tips now, in hopes the only flakes we encounter this spring are actually falling from the sky.
1. The entrance to a traverse is not a gathering point where you wait for your party and discuss politics, or whatever it is you chat about while other skiers try to get around your group, losing their speed. Please do not block a traverse. You are clogging the funnel to fun.
2. I get it; sometimes you enter a lift line a little too hot and roll over the back of the skis in front of you. But at that point, apologize and immediately back up. Do not continue to slither up in line while riding on the backs of someone else's skis.
3. And while you're in the lift line, please understand the chairs are all going to the exact same place. There are no intersections on the chairlifts, and no one is accidently going east while you take a chair going west. If the line is long and you get separated from your buddies, please do not stand in front of the line and refuse to get on until your friends catch up to you. Just wait for them at the top. I promise, they'll be there soon.
4. When you do finally get on the chair, don't crack someone else in the head or crush a leg in your haste to get the bar down. I know not everyone is comfortable riding without the safety bar down, but it's less comfortable riding up a lift when you've just given the guy next to you a concussion before the chair has even left the lift house. Let other riders settle in and then announce you'd like to put the bar down.
5. Snowboarders, we get you have to buckle into your boards after getting off a lift, but do you have to do it right in the middle of the path, in a horizontal line? I've seen NFL teams with less-impressive blocking routes. Pull over to the side so those getting off the lift behind you can get through and avoid a bottleneck at the top of the lift.
Failure to adhere to these tips could mean you find yourself the subject of a future column titled "Why tourists should wear bright warning stickers on their ski coats."
Amy Roberts is a longtime Park City resident, freelance writer and the proud owner of two ill-behaved rescue dogs, Boston and Stanley.