Column
January 21, 2015

The Mountain Journal

Weekend warriors: urban skiers redefine mountain adventure

By Tony Crespi

There are those who believe that big-mountain skiers must live in the mountains. After all, World Cup races and mountain photographs routinely showcase big-mountain skiers slicing high alpine race courses or diving through deep powder. But don’t discount weekend warriors! In truth, many big-mountain skiers hail from cities or suburban communities scattered throughout the East. The list of skiers with urban and suburban roots who have honed elite skills is notable.

Case in point: Killington’s own Olympic mogul-skier Donna Weinbrecht lives in New Jersey but spent her childhood regularly traveling from New Jersey to Killington, where she honed her bump skills on such favorites as Outer Limits.

Less well-known outside the ski industry, Jimmy Ackerson moved from working as a ski school instructor at small Mount Southington in Connecticut to directing the ski school at Portillo and La Parva in Chile. A highly accomplished skier who spent years balancing summers skiing in the Andes with winters in Vermont, Ackerson grew up outside Hartford, Conn. Like his former Portillo employer, Henry Purcell, a New Yorker who developed Portillo, Ackerson has travelled far from his Eastern roots.

Kim Reichhelm is another example. The sole person to have won the North American, South American, and world extreme skiing titles, she grew up in southern New England and trained in Vermont before developing a skiing life which has ranged from racing with the United States Ski Team to leading ski camps in Alaska.

The point is that while many skiers—especially young skiers–dream of a life in high mountain resorts, most skiers choose to balance work, careers, and schooling in more urban locales and travel weekends to the mountains. Don’t complain. Don’t groan. We are not alone. As in the East, on weekends in Colorado skiers head to the mountains from the Front Range, driving from such places as Denver and Colorado Springs to diverse resorts. In fact, many of their rides are not that different from our treks, taking anywhere from two to eight hours to get to the slopes. And, of course, many Southern Californians drive far longer, traveling from places like the Los Angeles basin to resorts such as Mammoth Mountain.

Sure, the driving can be tedious. But, then, the adventures and memories can be priceless. Late last winter I rode a lift with a dad whose son attends Killington Mountain School. I heard the pride in his voice as he spoke of his children’s skiing skills.

It’s kind of funny (and maybe I’m just waxing poetic) but in the end, weekend escapes are really just about enjoying the mountain, enjoying the friendships–these escapes are about enjoying a full life.

Weekend warriors? Honestly, many of the folks you see each weekend spend a good portion of their lives traversing our highways in search of weekend escapes. The Eastern Seaboard has a vast array of adventures easily reached by car, bus, or train.

What might you add to that adventure here in Vermont? Snowmobiking? A balloon ride in Quechee? Remember, wherever you call home, when you are on the top of the mountain, all things are equal. May you savor your next weekend adventure. From the first run. To the last run.

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