When Big Sky opened two lifts and two magic carpets on Dec. 2, palpable excitement filled Bozeman's first ski area to crank up its lifts. Only seven percent of the ski hill's terrain was open for skiers and snowboarders; however, on adjacent slopes, groomers track-packed snow while blowers pelted out white stuff in an effort to help the resort open more runs as soon as possible. "Somehow on your first ski day, the conditions are the last priority," confesses Schieffer, "but simply the process of putting on the gear, squeezing into the boots and first clicking into the skis brings you right back to where you left off in April."