POV

The Big White Hug

They make their own whiskey and you know that because it smells just like the Rockies—real, powerful, coming from another world.

By Maria Giulia Prezioso Maramotti
©maria giulia prezioso maramotti

©maria giulia prezioso maramotti

“Look at the shadows… When you are skiing on moguls—look at the shadows. The bigger the shadow—the less aggressive you should be, so you ski on the side and not the top, like a snake.” Dobi, my guide, is sixty-eight years old and has been skiing in Deer Valley since he was eighteen.

©maria giulia prezioso maramotti

©maria giulia prezioso maramotti

Every snow junkie’s dream is The Rockies, and I could not resist.On top of that, a European friend has recently challenged me and I have a powder appointment in Europe so I needed some special training. That is the day I turned to my friend Becca, who has been hitting the slopes in the Rockies since before she could walk, and we decided to do some serious ski business.

©maria giulia prezioso maramotti

©maria giulia prezioso maramotti

In Deer valley you are on call by seven am, as you do not want to miss the sun rising over your first slope. First you do a couple of warm ups on the groomed tracks, just in time to realize that the skies will be the wings of your weekend. We tried to carve up good, because we are the kind of junkies who study their traces on the virgin snow. We are painters; artists of the carving, trying not to interrupt the trace. That is what I call quality skiing.

©maria giulia prezioso maramotti

©maria giulia prezioso maramotti

And then you start some off track—some pure powder a couple of days old, but still perfectly light. Snowboarders are not allowed in Deer Valley. You do not want to spoil the snow. It is almost a mystic sense of the sport that you feel with the people around you—a sense of respect. Unlike any other place in the world I have skied in—the snow here has a real presence. She is a crystal goddess to respect and adore.

©maria giulia prezioso maramotti

©maria giulia prezioso maramotti

Is not about the sport anymore. Powder is not simply surface snow. Powder is a zero gravity research field. It’s a big white hug—the lightest and most romantic, because it is you and nature. Powder is the silence, the rocks around you, the rare birds, the conversation you have with the mountain, the sense of consistency.

©maria giulia prezioso maramotti

©maria giulia prezioso maramotti

Sun sets just in time for you to sip your hot toddy outside in front of the fire. The color of the sky turning a dark blue. I won a race with two ski patrols on my way back to the house—so they owe us a drink. They take us to a place called National Garage. Signage on the door reads, “I feel sorry for people who don’t drink. When they wake up in the morning, that’s as good as they’re going to feel all day” (Frank Sinatra).

©maria giulia prezioso maramotti

©maria giulia prezioso maramotti

They make their own whiskey and you know that because it smells just like the Rockies—real, powerful, coming from another world.
John, the owner, opened the distillery thirty years ago. When he finds out that I got free drinks because both instructors ate my dust on the slopes, he bursts out laughing and pours me another. “So you must have some good powder on the Alps too?“ I smile back at him. “You don’t want to mess with an Italian who comes all the way to the Rockies from NYC.”

©maria giulia prezioso maramotti

©maria giulia prezioso maramotti

Dobie joins Becca and me for dinner and tells us stories about the biggest snowstorms, when in the 60s they caught four meters of snow in three days. We look at him – sipping the last round of whiskey – as he says: “I remembered that day. You would ski over ungroomed powd for miles and miles. Repeat a run and still your tracks never crossed. And then the day after, it was all about the moguls, like a snake.” He drives us home and we look at the sky in silence. We are ready for day two. The big white hug is waiting for us.

©maria giulia prezioso maramotti

©maria giulia prezioso maramotti

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©maria giulia prezioso maramotti

 

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