After finishing my first season working in the ski industry and becoming a part of a community of skiers and riders, I have been thinking a lot about what makes this group of people so special. Then during our Community Clean-Up Day and BBQ it all became very clear. Here are just some examples of why the ski community is so seriously, ridiculously, high-fives-all-around awesome!
1. They really, really love their slopes...
While for some people winter is long over, a skier's love for the mountains isn't limited to when there is snow on the ground. Whether loyal to the same trails they learned on or always checking out somewhere new, summertime skiers can be found hiking, camping, or biking their favorite trails, counting the days until flakes start to fall. So when given the opportunity to give back or just get out on the slopes, we knew who to count on. By popular demand we opened clean-up day to the public for the second time and I was amazed but not surprised to see the amount of enthusiasm from the community. Families excitedly claimed their favorite trails and competed to fill the most trash bags, well exceeding the one-bag requirement earning them a free lunch. While it can be discouraging to see people litter on your favorite hill, you can bet that there are many more people in the skiing community that care enough to come back after the snow melts and help keep our trails beautiful year after year. To all those people, all I can say is thank you!
2. They know how to have a good time.
The ski industry is one of the most weather-obsessed groups of people on the planet. We all dream of the perfect powder day. We've all kicked ourselves for leaving that extra layer at home. But when it comes down to having a fun day on the slopes, some things are just a bit more important. On Saturday we saw the weather change from sunshine to mist to drizzle and then back to gorgeous sun, and that was all before lunch. But these smiling faces persisted. Garbage bags were re-purposed as ponchos, sneakers were traded for boots, and the sunshine was celebrated even more when it finally appeared. It turns out that as important as the conditions or weather are, they aren't the most important factor when it comes to having a fun day with your family and friends.
3. They take their après as seriously as their skiing.
Sometimes a little incentive goes a long way on the hill. Some days the only reason to take one more frigid ride to the summit is the steaming hot bowl of chili at the Schwendi Hutte. I know the only thing that makes me push a little harder through burning, tired legs is the thought of a gigantic burger and a cold one waiting for me at the bottom. It is no surprise then that the origins of the Clean-Up Day Pig Roast started as a simple BBQ to encourage our staff. It will also not come as a surprise that once word spread there were a lot of people willing to pitch in just to stay for the après-work food and fun. So how did a simple day of work and a free lunch turn into a 12-hour Pig Roast? Well, when you get a bunch of skiers together it turns into a party pretty quick. Upper management got together at 1:30am to start roasting a pig, the maintenance crew worked hard for weeks to get lifts running, and staff brought lawn games, music, kegs of cold beer, and tons of food. Inspired by all of the long-running summer food festivals in Town Square, this new tradition was complete with a whole pig worth of slow roasted pulled pork, burgers, sausages, beans, stuffing, homemade BBQ sauce, coleslaw, and salad, plus plenty of brews, lawn games, and music. When it comes to après festivities, you're going to want an invite from this crowd.
4. Everyone has dogs. They bring them to everything. They are all adorable.
This is Molly. She is a very good girl who kept morale high on the last stretch down with full, heavy trash bags. One of my favorite things about this community is that everyone is welcome, even our furriest family members. Especially in summertime, the slopes and Town Square are bustling every weekend with activities and events. I love that man's best friend can spend time with the family, meet new people (and dogs), and spend time outside. Whether it is hiking up Mt. Tecumseh or just strolling around Town Square, our good times can be measured in tail wags.
5. They help each other out.
Whether you are the Resort's top dog or just 6 years-old, everybody is expected to lend a hand. I couldn't even get out of clean-up duty between snapping pictures, and with this crowd I wouldn't dare. Whether it is helping up a fallen stranger, lending a hand to a lift neighbor, or teaching your kids about pitching in, spending time on the slopes is a lesson in humility. Speaking as a former city-dweller, the ski community not only teaches our young people to help each other out, it encourages everyone to engage, work hard, and give back. The sheer number of kids participating in clean-up day shows how the culture of this community is able to perpetuate through generations and shared by legends and newcomers alike.
If I have learnt anything in the past few months it is that the skiing and riding community is comprised of a unique, passionate, fun, and hungry group of people. I am grateful to be getting to know more and more of you every time I hit the slopes, whether it be to ski, hike, pet your dog, or over a game of polish horseshoes or cornhole. There will be many more days like this to keep us distracted until November.
See you on the slopes!