Crazy: April skiing

What? Are we at the Reporter nuts? Here it is the week after spring break and we're talking about snowsports?

Trust me, this is clearly a leap of faith, especially considering that there was no ski season in the Cascades this year. Well, actually there has been. Admittedly, it has been short, and it didn't come until almost April, after everyone had packed up their boards for the year. But the snows did come, at least a little.

Most of the Cascade's resorts have terminated operations for the season by now, closing out what will surely be recorded as the worst year in Cascades since 1976-77, and maybe ever.

As I have mentioned previously, what makes it really sad is that conditions in other parts of the country have been epic. The Lake Tahoe and Utah resorts still have snow totals that will set their standards for years to come. Several resorts there plan operations through Memorial Day, but I won't say much more about that, as those of you inclined to take advantage surely already know this.

So how can our local resorts recapture some magic for next season? One way is to reward season pass holders by making this year's pass good for next year. I think the typical consumer will be understanding when the snows don't fall, as long as the resorts don't try to take advantage of the situation. Happily, some resorts like Snoqualmie have already announced a plan to do this.

Another plan could be an appeal to the youth market. With tongue in cheek, and with apologies for being way late for April Fool's Day, I suggest the following:

It isn't a secret that skiing has seen very slow growth for a great number of years, and in fact wouldn't have grown at all if not for the fresh infusion of snowboarders. So if the captains of industry really want to establish a growth curve in the snowsports business, they have to change their thinking.

Kids and teens aren't attracted to mountain sports because of fancy restaurants, parking trams, perfect grooming, family vacations and safety first. Kids want to kick butt, tick off their parents, look different, act rebellious and impress their friends. They want to test their mortality and scare themselves silly about 50 times a day. It's what you did when you were a kid, it's what I did as a kid, and it's what no ski resort in the U.S. is prepared to deliver in any shape or form.

A ban on ``old-school'' skiing for anyone under 20; snowboarding and ``new-school'' freeriding rule. Make all trail signs unreadable by spray painting graffiti on them. Forget about pads at the base of the lift towers; replace them with metal spikes. Crank up the lift speed and install kickers at the top so that you get big air getting off the chair.

Give misdemeanor and felony discounts. Been to prison? You get a free season's pass. Avalanche areas should be clearly marked and skiers encouraged to try their luck; no survival radios allowed. Hazards should be created like on a golf course: crevasses, unmarked rocks, invisible trip wire, defective lift cables. Terrain parks and rails can actually be survival courses.

Forget about sit-down restaurants; install only ride-through fast food outlets. Patrollers will carry cattle prods and wear SWAT team uniforms. Loudspeakers should be installed on every tree, with rap music blaring loud enough to cause ear damage at close range. You get a dollar off the lift ticket price for each body part you have pierced. All snowboarders must run over at least one of their peers everyday or they must submit to a re-training program.

Eliminate ski schools, hosts, guides and snow maintenance. Anyone threatening a lawsuit for injury will be dealt with privately by vigilantes. All vigilantes get season's passes. Anyone caught stealing gear will be put in stocks underneath the beginner chairlift for an entire day, then forced to snowboard blindfolded without boots.

Lift lines will be organized European-style, which means there will be no order at all and the kids can fight it out. Night skiing will be offered at a discount at all resorts, because there will be no lights. Female riders get everything free, but groupies and snow bunnies have to pay.

Guys who just want to hang out can be loaded into a large van and driven to the nearest mall. That ought to about do it. Ride on into 2006!

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