The official kick-off for the festival is Thursday evening, January 17…. but already on the 15th and 16th the town is getting busy with at lot of the early arrivals. Festival staffers, media and film biz people are already popping up all over, checking into lodging to get ready for the onslaught, etc. Locals are poking their heads out for a last look around before the most intense 10 days and nights in any ski town, anywhere. The interesting thing for skiers and boarders, though, is that it’s actually a great time to be on the slopes because while the lodging and restaurant base is packed the slopes are just about deserted throughout the festival. All those “People in Black” from NYC to LA don’t seem to have as much passion for snowsports as they do for film and parties, so those of us who do hit the slopes during these 10 days in January find we often have entire runs and bowls to ourselves. It’s actually a pretty fair division of labor – those who want films and parties focus on that, and those who want the powder, well we know what to do with that….. and some folks manage to enjoy a pretty large share of both the festival and the ski resorts.