Column, Living the Dream

The last day

It’s the earliest day of the season (for my family anyway). We were in line an hour before the lifts started, with Bloody Marias and breakfast sandwiches in hand, way earlier than we would get there for any powder day. We won’t even wait on line on opening day, choosing instead to start the season as representatives of the 2 O’Clock Club. 

But Last Chair Day is different. It’s your last time to see your ski and snowboard friends until next season, your last chance to give a hug or take a selfie with friends who have become more like family over the years. Drawn together by a common love of snow sports, we gather, not because we want to, but because we need to. 

And so we cannot miss the line. It’s also the last day for groomies, and nobody wants to miss that. Especially when the team worked so hard to piece the whole thing together in one beautiful white stripe. It’s beautiful, especially when compared to the patchy mess that we saw only 12 hours earlier. That one shift alone has me convinced that Killington has the absolutely best grooming team in the business. 

This year was stunning, although I did miss carrying my skis with me on the chairlift, it was wonderful to feel the weight of my skis dangling from the lift one last time. It is a simple feeling, that floating swing of the skis, but in some ways it’s more natural to me than walking. Riding that damn lift is part of who I am, who I always will be. 

I’m so comfortable on that lift, one arm draped around the back as I turn to my compatriots to chat and watch my ski family take their runs. The pace is different today, a little bit slower, as everyone is not only looking out for rocky sections but also cherishing the final moments on the glacier. You can feel the reluctance, the unwillingness to let the moment end but also the dichotomy of the joy in celebrating the season. 

And so we are there, taking our final lift accessible laps of the year, surrounded by friendship and love. You know you love something when you experience it every day, yet still want to take photos like a tourist at the top. And take photos we did. Over and over again, our arms wrapped around each other with the beautiful valley sprawled out below us. Hugs that are filled with thank you’s for making each and every day on snow an amazing one. 

But the turns, those are ours alone. I timed my first run of the day perfectly. With no one around me, I was able to throw my skis out from underneath me and just let my body do what it wanted. I could feel my heart and breath in time with my movements, the compression at the end of the turn a welcome grounding only because I know my skis will fly out from underneath me again. My hair is flowing behind me and my skis swing like a pendulum as I soar down the mountain. It is glorious and I cannot stop. I am one with the moment, a feeling that I am going to have to wait for months to feel again. 

My heart is pounding so hard, I can feel my lungs expanding as I skip to the end of the snow, a few quick turns throw in just to slow down and finish it off. That was it. The rest of the day will be opportunities to go down memory lane, to take a run talking to my dad, to ski with the BF and to enjoy all the variety of turns that can be had. To ski the left side, the right side and even risk the middle. To explore every inch of the white stripe for the final time. 

Then, finally, to drink champagne at the summit while we wait for the ski patrol to ask us to leave. To stay up top in celebration but also futile protest. Please don’t let the ski season be over just yet, let us have just a few more minutes with the snow under our feet and our family surrounding us. I look around and it amazes me how many of these people I have ridden the chair with over the years, people who I met on the chair or in the gondola, strangers who have now become family.

It is an amazing thing when you find your people. People who love snow sports and winter and Killington just as much as you do, if not more. People who breathe in cold air and feel only warmth. To all of you who make this community the most amazing place that it is, I cannot thank you enough. From the bottom of my heart. Thank you.

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