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10 reasons to ski in January

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There’s powder in the forecast, which means you’ve had a case of the powder flu growing all week. The winter chill that spread across most of the country just after the new year has finally thawed out (hello 40 degrees ABOVE zero in the Midwest after a few days of 40 BELOW zero wind chill temperatures). And while we’re all a little bummed that Lindsey Vonn announced her withdrawal from next month's Sochi Olympics, skiers aren’t going to let that ruin their winter fun. If anything, we’ll just ski harder and take a run or two for Vonn.

If there’s a weekend your skis shouldn’t collect dust in the closet, this one is it. The holidays are over. The resorts are clear of those Christmas and New Year’s crowds. And skiing is mindless exercise, especially on a pow day—we’re starving by day’s end and feel a good quad burn simply by playing in the snow. Need more reasons, concrete ones, to ski in January? Here are 10:

1. Park City Mountain Resort opened Jupiter Bowl. This favorite among Utah skiers and those visiting Park City tends to open right around the time of the Christmas rush if not before. But if you were skiing Park City around New Year’s Day as I was, you’d be sorely disappointed to find that Jupiter Bowl had yet to open for the season. Sure, there was enough skiable terrain to keep you entertained for the day, but perennial powder zones were off limits.
Look for: If you make it to Jupiter Bowl, try to ride the golden chair. In honor of PCMR’s 50th anniversary, the resort painted one of the Jupiter lift’s chairs gold.

2. The Stone Creek Chutes are open at Beaver Creek. You’ve skied Grouse Mountain. You’ve tackled the Talons Challenge. You regularly hunt down the black diamond runs at Beaver Creek. But skiing the Stone Creek Chutes near the Rose Bowl is practically like winning the lottery: The chances that they’re open can be slim unless it’s dumped, yet when they’re amazing.
Look for: Powder stashes amid some rocky surfaces and down trees. While the Chutes offer steep and challenging terrain, they can also do a number on your skis if you’re not careful.

3. Using your new gear. Whether it’s skis, boots or clothing, it’s time to take it out of the closet and christen it on the slopes. That gear you received at Christmas is just dying to see some action before next season—and as much as you wanted to use it over the holiday, the conditions were telling you not to ding up those new planks.

4. Alta got 22 inches of snow. And that report was just from the first round of snow that blew through Utah (rumor has it that more is expected over the weekend). I was fortunate enough to ski Alta after a 17-inch dump and it was epic. Imagine all the terrain you can conquer when the resort’s base total goes from less than 45 inches to more than 65 in less than a week. Baldy Shoulder and Ballroom, anyone?

5. Jackson Hole got 13 inches of snow in 24 hours. Between the terrain nestled in the Tetons, the tram and the town of Jackson, you can’t go wrong skiing Jackson Hole Mountain Resort. And it skis even better on a powder day—probably part of the reason Ski Magazine named it the No. 1 overall resort for 2014.
Look for: Rendevous Bowl. You’ll have to wait in the line for the tram to access this bowl, but it’s well worth the wait.

6. Even more snow. If the Colorado, Utah and Wyoming ski resorts have been doing snow dances, they’ve been working (Steamboat, we’re talking to you and your 194 inches for the season). As if the rising snow totals from the first part of this storm cycle weren’t enough, it’s predicted that the Rockies will be blanketed with more snow this weekend. And per Powder Track, it looks like the Pacific Northwest will be getting some snow too. A powder weekend day is almost too good to be true, as long as you can avoid lift lines.

7. It’s not just the Rockies that are getting hammered. All that cold weather in the Midwest has been good for something: fresh snow and tons of snowmaking. Before this latest round of snowstorms to hit the Rockies, skiing in Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin, where base totals nearly matched what you’d find out west (or more if we’re comparing to Tahoe where it’s more like spring than winter) was looking pretty darn good.

8. Copper’s Snow Day Pass. So you like to ski where the snow takes you. It better take you to Copper this weekend where you won’t have to break the bank to score a powder day. For $119, the resort offers a Snow Day Pass, granting its holders a day on the mountain any time it snows four or more inches. January 10: a Snow Pass Day. January 11 and 12: maybe they’ll be Snow Pass Days too if the forecast holds true. Visit Copper’s website for all the details on the pass that keeps on giving.

9. Breckenridge has been hosting Ullr Fest all week. Why has it been snowing so much in ski country? The folks in Breckenridge would probably blame Ullr, the Norse God of snow they’ve been honoring all week at the town’s annual Ullr Fest. The week’s snow celebration wraps up Saturday with the second annual Ullr Classic Pond Hockey Tournament. Visit gobreck.com for more details, and check back for a slideshow of pictures from the 51st annual Ullr Fest.

10. The simplest—and possibly the best—reason: it’s Learn to Ski and Snowboard Month. Bring some friends with you and maybe they’ll finally realize why you’re such a powderhound. Who knows…maybe with a lesson, a freebie this month courtesy of Skis.com, they’ll become hounds too. Find more details on this awesome month at skiandsnowboardmonth.org.

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