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Word Has It 

The snow reporter can be your key to an epic day on the mountain

  • Jessie Spaccia illustration

Every mountain has one — the person you love to hate, who awakens you every morning during the ski season with the news you don't want to hear, or the person you secretly love, whose voice you can't wait to hear first thing in the morning. The snow reporter is their own special breed among the skiing and snowboarding population. They speak their own language (what the heck is "mixed precip" anyway?) and often do the job in exchange for a season pass. They also ensure that they're up on the mountain first thing, ready to shred the gnar the moment they hit the send button on the 8:45 update report.

After an overnight storm, many residents of mountain towns usually can tell what kind of day it's is going to be up on the slopes. When they wake up to light, fluffy snow that has blanketed their driveway overnight with no apparent wind effect, most powder hounds know that's the cue to call in sick. Others seek the expert opinion of their local snow reporter. Because of their broad reach with the skiing and snowboarding public, it's best that they keep their identities secret and typically go by a "handle," for there is no greater wrath on the slopes than when someone has made the trek to the mountain, only to find his or her opinion of the conditions differs from the snow reporter's.

Now, with the popularization of social media and other outlets that facilitate mass communication, several have popped up to try and "outdo" the resort's paid snow reporter. They range from after-the-fact group emails, suitable for rubbing it in when friends have missed out on epic days, to video accounts of day's conditions and festivities, and early-morning group texts from mountain insiders to a lucky, select group of individuals concerning what really happened on the slopes over the course of the night.

At the end of the day, the snow reporter — whoever you choose to read or listen to — is in it for the same reason as you. Some days, they'll report it exactly like you see it; other days, they'll report it as the opposite of what you've experienced. Still other days, you just may sit and raise a beer with him or her, probably without ever knowing it, and agree it was the best day of your life. ♦

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