You can feel it in the air. It’s more than just a chill. It’s a buzz that pulsates through ski towns around the country as the leaves start to fall and the first snowflakes flutter to the ground.
In Breckenridge, no one feels this buzzing anticipation more than photographer Liam Doran. His life and work revolve around powder days. If you’ve ever picked up a copy of Powder Magazine or Ski Magazine or Elevation Outdoors, you’ve seen his passion right there, on the cover.
For Doran, the kickoff of winter is a magical time of the year. “There’s something about this transitional time…” he says trailing off.
In ski towns around the country, the start of another season brings a slew of traditions from waxing your skis, getting your pass and taking your first selife in the snow.
And for Doran, hosting a pre-season bonfire. More than 10 years ago, he invited his friends to his home he just purchased in Blue River and built a bonfire.
That first year he decided to make a sacrifice to appease the snow gods. “I threw in my first powder skis ever,” Doran said. The Rossi Triple X Bandits. “I’d skied on them for years. Screwed the edges back in, had a ton of epoxy. They were one of my favorite skis ever. They really meant something to me… You gotta have some sort of meaning in order to sacrifice.”
That season, it snowed. A lot. So he hosted the party the next year and the next. It worked again and again. Since then, Doran has had the Ullr ski burning party on and off for the past decade. Two years ago, he worked with Tim Shisler and OnTheSnow.com to film the whole experience of his Ullr Bonfire party from the invites to the preparation to the actual bonfire and chili cookoff.
“The idea was to make a heartfelt video that made people excited for the season – we wanted to show how much we love winter and love the place where we live,” said Breck local Doran.
As the video says …
“In cities, fall is the season of ending. In ski towns, it marks a beginning. This is how we celebrate…”
After 17+ years of living in Breck, Doran is hosting yet another party. “The parties have morphed into let’s have a beer or two and the kids play around… It’s calmed down a bit but hey, it’s still a party.”
And this year Doran has even more to celebrate – he’s starting a new tradition. His two daughters, Elsa and Bergen, are looking forward to their year on skis (Elsa’s first). In a few years, these pint-sized skis will most likely sacrifice be added to the bonfire, along with the stories and frost-tinted memories from the whole family.