On November 22, 2023

Livin’ the Dream: A skier’s Thanksgiving

It’s that lovely time of year where we gather around a table with our family and closest friends. We fly across the country and drive for hours to interact with our loved ones or just sit staring at the parades and football games on television. Some of us go for a trot or a hike before putting on our favorite least-waist pants and digging into the gloriousness that is the Thanksgiving meal. Most of us spend the rest of the weekend digesting, but that’s not what my family did. Right after dinner was over, we would head north to Vermont for our first official ski weekend of the year.

I say official, because my dad and I would often steal up for a day trip to try out the whales on Downdraft back in the old K Chair days. Before the famous walkway, we skied Upper Cascade and Downdraft down to the mid-station and took laps on the upper mountain as early as Oct. 1. 

The whales on Downdraft would be higher than the treetops, so you could see the people floating up and down on these mounds while you rode the lift back up to the top. To me, it was like watching a Dr. Seuss book come to life, with people in their ski costumes riding the waves. I loved the magic of the whole early season.

Because I feel like this time of year is the skier’s and rider’s Thanksgiving. Instead of being spread all throughout the mountain, here we are, all together on just one lift. Together, at the same table. The park rats, the tree huggers, the groomies, and the bumpers. We all have to share the same trails for a few weeks, like estranged family members seated at the same table.

Before I became a ski bum, those early season days would be few and far between. A stolen daddy-daughter moment for a cancelled field hockey game, a day playing hooky from the office. Whatever it took, we would always be grateful to make that one day in October or early November.

And so, Thanksgiving weekend marked the true beginning to the season, where we saw our ski friends and teammates for the first time that season. We were grateful to see each other and to be playing on the snow once again. Training wouldn’t start until the next week, so we got to ski with our family and friends and just enjoy the snow.

So when Killington and FIS announced that the races would be over Thanksgiving weekend, it couldn’t have been more perfect. Because as skiers, we don’t just gather around the table or at the bar, we gather on the snow. On the chairlift. In the lifeline. And now, we gather every year at the bottom of Superstar.

I love seeing the different clubs and academies gathering, from current students to alumni. I’ve bumped into so many ski sisters and former teammates at the races; I’m jumping from hug to hug shouting Happy World Cup. It feels like every ski racer in New England makes the drive to celebrate what many of us are most grateful for in the world: skiing. The opportunity to dance on snow while sliding down a mountain.

Because this is our family. Those ski sisters and brothers that breathe in the cold air with a sense of reverence, that think sharing stories on a frozen chair dangling in the sky is a wonderful way to pass the time and who will always take one more run. Those who will raise a pint in the parking lot after a great day on snow or fight you for the toppings on a plate of nachos.

World Cup is our one chance to come together without skis on, to take the time to be grateful for this amazing lifestyle we have chosen. To celebrate skiing by observing, by taking a moment to cherish each other and our great sport. To see our great sport, in all its glory, taking center stage from the world. 

I am grateful to my parents for making me a skier and that I get to pass on this love of skiing in so many wonderful ways. I am grateful to be part of this great community, where we celebrate women in sports and cheer for every racer from every country. I am grateful for late nights in the parking lot swapping ski stories after a long day. I am grateful for girlfriends who become ski sisters and a world where one chairlift ride can lead to a lifetime of friendship. But above all, I am grateful for skiing!

I wish all of you a very Happy World Cup and more days on snow this year than last!!

Merisa Sherman is a long time Killington resident, KMS coach and Local Realtor. Share your ski memories at femaleskibum@gmail.com.

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