The Snow Dance


Not long ago, we got a phone call from a radio station in Los Angeles, asking if the town’s fiscal situation will help, hamper, or change the skier experience in Mammoth this season.

We said no—nothing will change as long as people do a proper snow dance right about now.

One of them goes off tomorrow evening at 6:30 p.m. at The Village. The people at the Mammoth Mountain Community Foundation are throwing a bonfire party and ski burn as a sacrifice to Ullr. If you have to ask who the heck Ullr is, you’re in the wrong town.

But we insist that the snow dance is essential, particularly in advance of this season.

Based on visitor numbers that are flowing in, we see no effect at all in terms of visitor numbers vis-à-vis the settlement of the MLLA/Ballas case.

Rather, what we’re seeing is that the love affair with Mammoth goes on unabated, with the only thing standing in the way being plentiful snow.

In spite of near record numbers over the summer months, and even with an unusually strong September in the books, the so-called “pacing” numbers for the winter show a skittish market going into this ski season, and that fits with national trends.

According to Tourism Chief John Urdi, the “pacing” numbers for the next six months are down by 10.5 percent, and though he didn’t say it, exactly, it means that skiers and snowboarders feel like they got burned last year by a crummy snow year.

Over at Denver’s Mountain Travel Research Program (MTRiP), they are less coy.

“It seems that both prospective guests and the resort suppliers are having reservations about booking reservations for the coming season,” quipped Ralf Garrison, director of MTRiP.  

“We anticipated that the positive economic news in September combined with a strong uptick in consumer confidence would be driving winter booking activity, but overall advanced reservation activity is essentially flat.

“However,” said he, “taking the optimistic view, it’s still pretty early in the booking season with approximately 40 percent of the ski season’s reservations now on the books there is lots of upside potential.”

Ourselves, we’d recommend that every true-blue, pagan-oriented mountain person engage in a roaring Snow Dance.

This can either be public or private. The clothes-optional snow dances probably are best done in private, else Chief Dan Watson might be knocking on your door.

Our favorite one, lately, is pretty simple.

First, turn your pajamas inside out and put them on. Then gather white beads and a couple pieces of white paper. When that is done, rip up the paper into small pieces.

Turn your music of choice on REAL LOUD (Arctic Monkeys? Wagner’s Ring Cycle?) and dance (sing?) until you drop. While you dance, throw the paper and beads around the room. It symbolizes snow.

When you are so tired that you can’t dance or throw the paper and beads around any longer, pick up the beads and pieces of paper and put them in the under side of your pillow case and go to sleep.

This won’t guarantee an uptick in pacing numbers, enplanements and load factors at the airport, increased revenue per available rental, or any of the other metrics that Urdi and his crew might crunch.

But we guarantee a great time, and who needed those old skis and snowboards, anyway?