The bottom of the hill looked more like the area two weeks after closing than opening day. I stepped into my skis with careful route finding through the mud patches arrived at the bottom of the Elk Chair.It was wet. It was sloppy.Almost to the top of the chair, snow started mixing with the rain. The air became distinctly colder. There was hope.Off the Elk, I dropped to skier’s left down the little pitch and picked my way through fist-sized rocks littering the surface. At the Bear and open ditch crossed the run. Most folks managed to pop over. A couple didn’t.Almost immediately on the Bear it switched completely over to snow. By the summit off-load, the hill was full-on winter–a whiteout of swirling snow and fog.As I of-loaded, I realized my annual gradual 200 yard first of the season balancing stretch was not in the cards. The snow was broken and piled high between where skiers passed. The upper layer was distinctly dryer than the lower layers exposed by the traffic. My first few turns were arm fallers.Chill. And speed up.”I loosened a bit, thought about staying centered on my foot, feeling the whole foot. I pushed my knees into the turn and found an even speed that kept my skis out of the glop below the surface.Boom. I was skiing. Turning left and right. All was good.So this year, when you drop of the lift for that first run, think simple. Think bottom of your foot. Ski evenly on your foot, clearly feeling the ball of your foot.Feel your socks.Feel the front of your boot.Point your knees; both of them, into the turns and let your knees guide your skis.And most of all, gain a little speed and power through the clumps of snow. Don’t be afraid of speed. In early season snow. Speed is your friend. Keep turning and keep your speed constant.It’s here. Happy New Year to all.Keith Liggett is a Fernie-based skier and writer. This year the first day of the year appeared brutal. At my house it was raining heavily. Clouds obscured the top of the mountain. And maybe snow showers? It was opening day, and there was nothing to do but try it. The opening weeks of the ski season across our mountains show a smattering of areas opening in early December with this last pulse of moisture and cold bringing snow enabling the lifts to crank up at the few remaining closed. For me the New Year’s Day is that first day on the hill.That event passes on the old and the rings in the new.Over the years I’ve developed a little routine to quickly get me comfortable and centered on my skis. After dropping off the lift, there is always that moment of looking at the mountains around, the valley below and wondering at this absurd sport of sliding down a slick snow covered hill, Then putting doubts aside, I find a moderate slope. Starting with a gliding wedge, the beginner turn, I crank out a few turns. I feel the bottom of the ski. I feel the ball of my foot.I press my shin into my boot just a little bit and point my knee into the turn. Gradually, I speed up the turns and voila, I am skiing.Simple.A few years ago the day turned a little sideways. , I kept trying to ski anyplace before a Whistler trip, but nothing worked out. I was scheduled into heli-skiing the first couple of days at Whistler and my first run that year was off the top of some name-forgotten peak 60 clicks north of the Village.The summit was not much bigger than needed to land the chopper and off load the skier. And the slopes off the summit appeared Chugash-like. I survived, although for the first few turns I seriously wondered, “Do you remember how to turn?”I let it go and all went well.