Tag Archives: Ullr

Praying for Snow

The sacrificial ski burning to coax the ear of the gods

The sacrificial ski burning to coax the ear of the gods

Flames from the bonfire sparked overhead like tiny red snowflakes falling upward. I looked up and squinched my eyes just right, trying to remember the feel of snowfall on my cheeks. Huddled together with my husband, neighbors and friends, we chanted in unison.

Goddess Hecate,
I pray upon thee.
Make tomorrow a snow day;
So let it be.

After a week of sunny skiing in Green Valley, it’s time for more snow. Not that I’m complaining. While the city has been cold, the mountains have enjoyed warm temperatures. Skiers and riders have been relaxed and grateful as if it were the beer-drinking laid-back end of the season rather than the beginning. I’ve made turns every day, giggling into the collar of my parka. But after such warm temps, much of the snow in the main runs has been scraped down to rock. The quality has been skied out of the snow.

Now it’s time; we need more snow.

Snow forecast Sunday Morning

Snow forecast Sunday Morning

So Saturday night we lit a bonfire in the front yard, burned skis and snowboards, lifted shotskis and champagne, prayed to Ullr and Hecate and anyone else who might be listening. We asked for snow. Maybe not tomorrow, maybe not the next day, but soon. We need more snow soon.

In fact Crystal closed this week as we wait for our next snowfall.

And as if by magic this morning the forecast models are showing some promise, finally offering up colorful blobs of moisture and plunging temperatures. The latest extended GFS run is modeling snow starting early Saturday morning and continuing through Sunday. Sunday especially looks cold and snowy and very promising. Click on the photo above to check it out. At this point Sunday looks especially good, which admittedly is still a million light years away in forecast-years.

But still. Would the joy of Christmas be nearly as good if it was a surprise? No indeed. It is the promise, the hope, the longing for and finally the delivery of a powder day that makes it so awesome. So starting today, I’ve got my hopes set on this weekend.

Maybe Ullr really was listening to our heartfelt chants this weekend. I’d like to think he was.

Who’s Ready For Winter?


Ready for snow

Ski Patrol training week starts tomorrow, and yesterday a patroller friend of mine told me she wasn’t ready for the season to start. Not ready? I was dumbfounded. Granted, she just returned from her “summer” job fighting wildland fires. It was a long season for her. Usually she has a quiet shoulder season to prepare for winter. But still. A part of me wonders if Ullr was listening. I certainly hope not.

Perhaps it was our early season snow that kindled my enthusiasm. The ski season was in our grasp. Just a few more inches (well, more like 15″, I’m exaggerating) and we’d be open.

Crystal Avi Dogs, Ari and Kayla, are ready for ski season

In case we forgot, this is what “significant snowfall” looks like

Now, after some warm rain all that snow has melted. It’s a bummer, but I tell myself that it’s still early. Thanksgiving is still weeks away. Besides, I have a book proposal to work on and several articles to write. I’m busy, for God’s sake. I should be using this time to frantically finish all these projects.

This morning, in the NOAA forecast discussion, the meteorologists mentioned some magical words in the long-term forecast:  “significant snowfall in the mountains.” Can there be any words sweeter than these? I love the way the words

A girl can dream



“significant snowfall” feel in my mouth–the alliteration is poetic, the image is pure bliss. Significant snowfall means large flakes the size of ten-year-olds falling from a steel gray sky. It means a white duvet covering the browning grass and jagged rocks. It means pointing skis downhill, picking up speed and leaning into the turns, one after the next until your smile freezes in place.

Next week could be the week folks. I know its a long ways out. Long-term forecasts are more about hope than facts. But right now, that’s all we’ve got.

If Ullr Were Alive Today


According to popular opinion, Ullr is the Norse god of skiing, bow hunting, agriculture and one-on-one combat. Some sources claim he’s the inspiration for Santa Claus. Without a recorded myth, information about this god is pretty scant. But that hasn’t stopped the skiing world from conscripting him.

Ullr Pendant from Ragweed Forge

Skiers love Ullr and have attributed much to this god, even though the evidence isn’t quite there to back it up. Most specifically, he’s been called the god of snow, which, when you think about it, isn’t that big of a stretch.

Mythologically speaking, Ullr was the son of Sif and stepson of Thor (the god of thunder). He may have been the son of Egill, the archer, which makes sense with the bow and all.

He married Skaadi, the goddess of winter, which, as a skier, was a really brilliant move. Just that move alone makes him a worthy candidate for all the adoration he receives from the ski industry.

Back in 2000, I mounted an Ullr For President campaign, but unfortunately we all know how that election turned out. He’s been around forever, but he seems to be gathering more followers every day: Ullr has a facebook page; every year Breckenridge hosts a huge Ullr Fest to celebrate winter; there’s even a liqueur named in his honor, Ullr Nordic Libation. Recipes include the Pow Pow and the Hot Spank, and their website claims, “He is who you pray to for snow when the mountains are bare and pay homage to with libation at the end of a day on the mountain.”

My stepson recently tattooed Ullr onto his shoulder, and I wear an Ullr pendant around my neck, especially during the early winter months when I’m really praying for snow.

If Ullr were alive today, I think he’d be a ski bum like this guy. Or perhaps, he’d be a pro skier, someone like Eric Hjorliefson or JT Holmes or maybe someone as humble as he was awesome like Arne Backstrom (RIP). Either way, Ullr would ski upwards of 150 days a season. He’d probably live in a snow cave or maybe a van in the parking lot. Every night, he’d have a powwow with his wife, Skaadi, and they’d decide how much snow would fall by morning. Some days would be just a little light fluff over groomed, making for some nice boot-top pow. Other days they’d conjure up a big storm, the kind other skiers beseach him with prayers over. He’d make it fall in big flakes that swoosh when his skis sliced through it the next day. Ullr  and Skaadi would ski together those days, lapping up the glory of snow and skiing and a match made in Norse heaven. Only when he had to run to town for groceries and mead would it stop snowing. Those days would be bluebird.