Happy New Year and hope you enjoyed some time off! Thanks to all of you who are back on board after our usual Christmas hiatus…while we were away, good news out of the Pacific NW is that Mt. Hood Ski Bowl opened for the season. They’re kind of the bellwether for the region, and it’s good to see them offering up all nine lifts serving 100% of their terrain. Mt Hood Meadows down the road is also open and looking good on a 130″ base…FIS World Cup news during our layoff, Mikaela Shiffrin and Marcel Hirscher won just about everything except the Oslo city event. Both skiers ratcheted up another notch or two on the all-time wins list and barring injury I don’t see either one releasing their iron grip on their overall titles this season. As for the city dual slalom event, Hirscher straddled a gate and then laughed about it. Shiffrin went down to the final final, losing to Petra Vlhova who was confident, focused, and definitely on a mission to win. But in contrast to Hirscher, Mikaela was not smiling about anything. I got the distinct impression that the two ladies may not exactly be warm and fuzzy together…got word that two skiers died last week at Keystone, Summit County Coroner Regan Wood attributes both fatalities to altitude-induced heart attacks. Our thoughts are with the families of Arvada resident Daniel Mares, 53, and Silverthorne resident Durwood Marshall, 66, who died on hill in separate incidents during Christmas. Semi-regular correspondent Rick Beitel of Virginia forwarded an article about the added stress that high altitudes put on the body to deliver oxygen throughout. When you consider that both victims live at least a mile high, it’s a serious reminder that we should definitely tune in and not overestimate our ability to acclimate — particularly those of us who live near sea level…back to the Pac NW, let’s look at eastern Oregon this time, Anthony Lakes Mountain Resort spreads the nordie love next Sunday, January 13th with free XC trail passes, skinny ski rentals, and how-to clinics. If you have family members who are just too chicken to ski downhill, spend some time with them on the nordic trails. Not as exciting? OK, but it is a more holistic way to experience the winter outdoors, believe me. And if you’re thinking “well it’s just like walking except with skis on,” I can say that is an uneducated, uninformed response. Don’t be that guy…warm rains may have blasted the banana belt, but northern New England fared surprisingly well. Cannon Mountain NH skiing on just about everything but the glades and a handful of trails. So much natural snow they’ve even got a few non-snowmaking trails open. Not sure what Saturday will bring…weather forecast a lot more positive on the West Coast, California’s Mammoth Mountain staring down a forecast of two feet for this weekend. Those are the times they shut down lifts because they have to dig them out…Photo above is Olympic champ Jessica Diggins; what were you saying about cross country? Take your less adventurous family members out for some nordic skiing, you’ll be surprised at how much everyone enjoys it…midwest no stranger to the rain, glad to see our friends at Caberfae Peaks in Michigan have the guns going strong as I type this…shout out and sincere thank you to Olympic Champion Barbara Cochran, she took good care of my buddy Steve when he visited the legendary Cochran’s Ski Area last week.