By Merisa Sherman
We all moved across the bridge together, probably over a thousand cars all creeping precariously across the Hudson or whereever. Sure, there were some moving in faster bursts in an attempt to get around and others just maintaining a constant speed, but we were indeed all moving together. An aerial photo would not have been able to determine the difference between all the little colored boxes littering the roadway. But there we were.
Driving requires some weird kind of teamwork. Everyone has to stay within the lines and agree to travel at an acceptable rate of speed otherwise the whole thing turns from a moving grid into a honking herd of chaos. Yet somehow, all these folks manage to work together to get to their job or wherever else they are going but inadvertently combine their efforts for success.
Somehow, we forget teamwork when we are skiing. When the work clothes come off, there is this sense that skiing is our own time, our relaxing time when we can be free and not care about anything else in the world. For most of us, this is why we head to the mountains; but some days we have to share. We have to share our beloved freedom with thousands of our closest friends — why friends, you say? Well, because no matter the color of our skin — or the state on our driver’s license — all the people on that mountain love to ski and snowboard. We are all kindred spirits. Yes, they might not like the same kind of riding that we do, but they belong on that mountain just as much.
When we were younger, like back in our ski instructor days where we thought we were the biggest rock stars on the mountain, people asked us when we were moving “out West.” As if somehow “out West” was some kind of college that you went to after spending high school here in the East. Like somehow you would work here on the “East Coast” and then graduate to go “Out West.”
I know lots of people who have done this with an amazing amount of success. A ski patrol friend of ours moved “out West” after working on our patrol and was treated with such respect he ended up working on ski patrol at the Olympics. One of my young coaches from Ministars moved “out West” and is now the head of marketing at some award winning mountain out there. I’ve got snowmaker friends, bartender friends, even regular job worker friends that have gone out there to play in the champagne powder or whatever other fancy names they call their snow that we don’t have here.
But I bet they don’t have sugar snow that is so deep that it goes over your boot top and you struggle to have any control over your skis whatsoever. They don’t have death cookies so large they seem more like the Devil’s Biscuits than a little cookie. They don’t have snow guns that pelt you in the face so hard that they bounce off your clothes or sticky guns that stop you dead in your tracks and coat your entire being in a hard candy shell.
They don’t have loose granular, or frozen granular and any other kind of snow that could be referred to more like a good product than anything else. They don’t have to judge the width of the stream crossing by the length of their skis. My athletes have been waiting all winter for this one stream on Ramshead to get to kid size so they can practice their stream crossings. They get very excited about rivers and bridges.
I love waking up and having the mountain just a quick, mostly traffic free drive from my home. It takes me 15 minutes to get to the mountain, which is enough for at least an hour of playtime everyday. I don’t have to commit an entire day to the mountain, separating from the rest of my life.
Here the mountain is part of my everyday life. And that is just how I love it.
Sure, they have a lot of fancy things that we don’t have on the “East Coast.” They’ve got homes that are so big that they’re sold more like compounds than homes, and million dollar trailer parks.
But we can drive three hours and be in Boston, four hours and be in New York or Montreal and a few more hours than that and we’ve reached Philly or Syracuse or Washington DC. That’s not a mountain in the middle of nowhere — that’s a ski community in the middle of everything!
And so here we are, a wonderful ski community in the middle of everything. A community that looks for a scared, lost dog because we all love the same thing and we all truly wish that mountain happiness on each other and all peoples. Sure, I’ve been making sacrifices to Ullr, practicing my snow dance and praying for snow, but leave my home and my Killington family? Uh, no thanks. I’ll keep skiing our painted trails until I cannot breathe anymore. And then I hope you’ll take one more run for me after that.