On May 16, 2018

Family celebrates loss, joy on the ski trails

By Katy Savage

KILLINGTON—Ray Alba skied down a hill of moguls.

It was April 19, 2015, and the sun was shining on the season’s remaining snow at Jay Peak Resort. Alba was there with his wife and two children, now ages 9 and 14, but his mind was on his third child, who wasn’t there.

“As I come down these slopes, I often think, ‘What if? What if our son was still with us?’” said Alba.

This was the eighth anniversary of their son Rocky’s death.

Rocky died at age 9 due to complications from cerebral palsy.

The mountains in Vermont have come to hold special meaning to the Alba family since losing their son. They started skiing as a family after Rocky died. They also started documenting their times together.

The eighth anniversary of their son’s death is documented in a six-minute, 57-second video that Ray Alba created. It highlights the family’s day together, from making a pot of tea in the morning to skiing in the trails in the afternoon.

The Albas live in New York City.  Alicia Alba is a stay-at-home mom while Ray works in technology for publishers and colleges. He travels around the world and is gone about 180 days a year.  Weekends are for family. They drive about nine hours in the car each weekend to make it to Vermont to ski. The family skied at Pico 60 days this past season.

Their videos are about embracing what they have—a metaphor they use to talk about the ski community and the loss of their son.
“It’s brought us together as a family,” Alicia said of skiing.

The Albas have documented dozens of videos with friends and family. They started posting their Alba Adventure videos on YouTube in 2010.

Ray studied film at New York University and has always filmed as a hobby. Ray shoots just about every day on his phone or Nikon camera, depending what he has available.

Ray and Alicia work on the narration together and spend about a week filming, planning and editing the videos. Most of the footage they get is by luck.

“We have an idea and hope that we get the footage,” she said.

Their videos have garnered a following with friends at Jay Peak, Killington, Pico, and Okemo. They were recently part of a 30-second commercial for Pico, which was shot in February.

Katherine Rockwell MacLauchlain, who works at Pico, met the Albas four years ago at the rental shop.

“They definitely make an effort to get to know the people in the areas they frequent, which as an employee reminds you why you bother to get up and go to work,” she said.

MacLauchlain has watched the Alba children grow up in the videos.

“They put a lot of effort into creating the story,” she said.

Kirsten Erlansden, another regular skier at Killington, who lives in Connecticut, met the Albas in the base lodge. Erlansden’s kids are similar in age, and Urlansten has often been part of the videos.

“There’s time when you’re on the hill when they’re like, ‘you have to stop here. We have to shoot a video,’” she said.

“The reason we enjoy the videos so much is that they focus on family and … how you instill a love for the sport in your children and the traditions live on through your family,” she said.

The Albas are planning one more video this season—another ski day at Killington. The family is keeping the details of the video a secret until it’s released within the next month or so.

Alicia said the video is going to highlight multiple days of skiing at Killington.

“In today’s time, it’s harder to meet people,” Alicia said. “You have these virtual friendships but people aren’t really socializing anymore. I think by doing an activity like skiing—it gives the opportunity to socialize in real life.”

Photo submitted
Ray Alba, his wife Alicia and their children ski.

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