This past winter I met four skiers whose perspective about skiing will pull me through the off-season.
At a showing of the new Warren Miller Film, Bob Dunn was in the audience. Bob was the owner of Boston Hills in Andover Massachusetts from the early '60s to the late 1980s. He also operated Ragged Mountain in New Hampshire during that time and was a ski writer for the Boston Globe.
Family surrounded Bob at the event, and reminiscing about Boston Hills and how he experimented with grassing skiing and a dry slope for summer skiing.
When I asked him what skiing has meant to him, his answer was direct and straightforward.
“Skiing is about family and adventure.”
His response made me reflect on how my life has been shaped through adventures on skis with my family and how my parents made it happen for us.
At the Women’s World Cup in Killington, Vermont I was waiting by my car at the end of the day when I noticed a couple of guys scrambling for ski gear in the back of their Subaru. They were gearing up for a few afternoon runs. All of their equipment was brand new, and their clothing branded with sponsors, so I assumed they were pros of some sort. So I took a step closer and discovered I was staring at Jim Ryan and Marcus Caston from the new Warren Miller film.
Like a star-struck kid, I said, "Hey are you, Marcus?"
“I am,” he replied.
“Wow, I’m a huge fan; I follow you on Instagram and love your stuff," I said
Cool, thanks, what’s your name?” he replied.
“I’m Dan,” I said. And then I asked, “Hey can I ask you why you started Return of the
And he stated, “I got sick of all the big air, tricks and straight lines. The essence of skiing is turning, right?”
“I couldn’t agree more," I said. “I'm from the turning generation; it’s in my blood.”
“Ya that’s right," he said.
Nice to meet you, Marcus, keep up the excellent work, and I shook his hand.
“The essence of skiing is turning,” what a statement. It made me think of all of the silly debates on how best to turn and how that clouds the reason for the essence of the sport.
Turning is fun, exciting and is part of the adventure that Bob Dunn was speaking of.
A few weeks later I was at the Lake Louise at the FIS World Cup Super G Race. Mikaela Shiffrin had just won.
In her interview, she stated, “The magic of the day I did not have any expectations.”
She hadn’t trained the discipline in months, and it was her first Super G race of the season. She showed up with the expectation to compete.
She then said, “She felt one with her equipment that day, and her skis were just an extension of her legs and feet.”
Wow, I let that settle in for a bit — what a way to experience the essence of skiing and being in the moment.
Then this spring I had the honor of meeting the queen of moguls Hilary Engisch- Klein who recently was inducted into the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame.
In the 1980s Skiing Magazine called her the best female skier alive. In 1982 she won 8 out of 11 FIS World Cup competitions plus 5 World Pro Mogul Tour.
A wife, mother of 3 daughters and a cancer survivor, she founded "Kids on Top" foundation for children with serious illness to have kids have fun, laugh, and find adventure. Activities include skiing among others.
She summed up her ski career to me saying, “It was a sweet time in life. The skills I learned traveling and competing prepared me for life. My foundation provides access to the mountains, and when a child smiles, I find the sweetness.”
What a powerful reminder of the importance of being in service and providing smiles and memories to children and families.
When I reflect on the interactions Bob, Mikaela, Marcus and Hilary, this winter, their comments were deep, rich and connected to mind, body, and spirit.
My take away is this; families seeking winter adventure go skiing and snowboarding and discover the pure pleasure of turning, some can find this free of expectations,
creating a oneness with themselves others and their surroundings, and that becomes a sweet time in life.