THIS IS HOW I grew up skiing. Dog-eared ca 1972 copies of ski mags. Stacks and stacks of them. Which is to say I didn’t grow up skiing at all but spending my summer vacations in a ski house in Southern Vermont. I didn’t ski. But I read. I dreamed. I stared and studied and longed. I also grew up in Virginia, and my family wasn’t inclined towards winter. Mountains for us were hiking in the summers in Vermont on this little hill that was a ski area. Flash forward a few decades and I am living in the Catskills and I learn to ski. And then discover Plattekill, which is to me like the promised land (the promised land ca 1972—warm lodge, wooden beams, wood stove). I’d been skiing for maybe half a season when I first got there and the parking person said, “Look up there. It just opened. Macker groomed it perfectly.” He waved at the white ribbon of Northface. I had no idea who Macker was, but that the person parking my car said he skied it yesterday and promised it was fantastic, was also a warm welcome to the hill.
(Small aside: a nice thing about learning to ski in this decade is that I didn’t have to ski straight skis ca 72, and hence after a half season of skiing didn’t kill myself on Northface).
Flash forward another 2 years and I’m doing Platty’s blog. After the second post someone emails me, “It reminds me,” he writes, “of this little hill where I learned to ski in Vermont.” That little hill was where I learned to long for skiing.
But had I learned there, I probably wouldn’t be here. (I can play out a zillion alternate realities in my mind: Had my dad taken that job in Kalispell Montana where I’d have skied… Hhad they bought that place that every summer they talked of on that mountain in Vermont, where I’d have skied…. They didn’t. I ended up here and this place that keeps it real—and I still have one dog-eared copy of ski mag that I kidnapped from the vacation home when I was 15… Below images from said issue… Lange. New York. Wayne Wong in infrared.
As promised, I’ve been digging around in the past to get pumped for the season. Platty’s opening day is in sight–it’s October, we’ve got a frost warning, THE PLATTEPALOOZA FALL FESTIVAL is around the corner, and I’ve swapped Summer Ale for IPA.
My 80’s my wish list would have included (besides a time-traveling DeLorean) the chance to meet my ski idols: Scot Schmidt, my Idaho girl Picabo Street, and obviously Glen Plake. I remember first watching The Blizzard of Aaahhs and how blown away I was by Schmidt & Plake’s daring, their ridiculous inventiveness.
Maybe since the technology of that era wasn’t evolving as quickly as they were (most everyone was on the same “shape” of ski) the athletes were forced to develop individual styles in order to evolve. People didn’t have powder skis for deep days, carvers for groomers, twin tips for jibbing. They had skis. There were differences in materials, construction, and price point. But the basic shapes were arguably the same.
And they skied them in ALL conditions.
Although I’d never swap my modern skis for the long straight Rossi’s of the 80s, I’m glad I DID learn on them. Among other things, they taught me to maintain balance in mogul skiing and nasty, cut-up crud. And to appreciate today’s skis that much more.
So yeah, a BIG shout out to snowboarding.
I mean, come on—Schmidt dropped into the vertical extremities of the Alaskan Chugachs, Street crushed the super G at Nagano.
Jason Levinthal, founder of J Skis, just released the HOT DOGGER a total nod to 80’s flash and dash. And I get it—the retro vibe. The loud, garish, IN YOUR FACE ATTITUDE of it, proclaiming—THERE IS ABSOLUTELY NOTHING BETTER THAN SHREDDING THE MOUNTAIN.
For this season at Platty, let’s embrace the raw, hardcore days of launching into Blockbuster, Plunge, or Freefall on a pair of K2 Extreme 207s, sporting Bollés, an eye-popping neon jacket, a wind-scoured face–and a giant, toothy grin.
Now make sure to send us your old school pictures of keeping it real or post them on Plattekill’s Facebook page. https://www.facebook.com/Plattekill
Winter is coming. Bad for the people of Westeros. But, (and please excuse me geeking out over Game of Thrones)—thank R’HLLOR. (Again, apologies…but the season only ended a few weeks back, I haven’t fully recovered.)
Okay, so yes—Summer. You had your place. You will always have your place. But even the best beaches, trails and Mojitos just don’t feed my soul like those first turns on SNOW.
And…here we are. Summer is winding down—packing its bags, looking under the bed, the mattress; making certain the closets are cleared out—finally preparing to check out.
I, for one, am ready to move on. Fall is emerging…bringing the promise of cool nights, crisp apples, inching us ever closer to a Plattekill winter.
I’ve been dreaming about skiing for the past three (six?) months. At least once a week it seems. For me, it really never goes away. Always there, like a Golden Retriever running alongside, stick in mouth, reminding you that there is sooo much FUN to be had, if you’ll just shelve this daily grind and FOLLOW ME INTO THE MOUNTAINS!
That voice in the back of your head…causing that weekly (daily?) click on winter videos, pictures, gear sales, all things NOT work-related.
Recently I was at a yard sale (an “actual” one, not created whilst tomahawking down a one too many steeps) and found a 1975 ski poster by Lou Zansky called simply: ON THE SLOPES.
I don’t know what it was about this picture. There are more ski–related graphics than is worth mentioning in any retailer, website, or dorm room. But this one stuck.
Maybe it was how it perfectly captured the 70’s vibe—skis long, straight, planky. Knees locked together, pivoting from the hips—a style that truly was, well, STYLISH.
I grew up skiing in Southeast Idaho, my home mountain was Pebble Creek (just a bit south of Pocatello, for anyone familiar with the area). It was such a cool, unsullied mountain. And VERY steep. I say unsullied (no this is NOT a purposeful GoT reference), because it was a local’s mountain. EVERYONE knew EVERYONE, from the folks running the lifts to the Patrollers to the kitchen staff.
Maybe because it was remote, or because of its smaller size compared to other Idaho/Utah resorts (located just a few hours from Salt Lake), it instilled a tremendous loyalty from us. And gave in return. A place that valued its own, and from this grew a true local culture.
I am sure that any mountain will claim this, and I am sure that to some degree, they all have it. But in all the years I’ve been skiing, Plattekill is the only place that has given me that same “feel.” of where I grew up. The feel of a true HOME mountain. And yeah, it’s the people. (More on that throughout the season).
I’m new to Platty. I’ve lived in the Catskills for the past 8 years after being in NYC since 2001. And I don’t pretend to know the mountain, or the culture, like any of you. But I am thrilled and honored to share my perspective as a newcomer, and I want to share what I see on the hill and spread my excitement about it to as many as I can—while of course preserving short lift lines.
And now, back to that poster.
I was thinking of celebrating the Old School in the run-up to the season. Jen and I are going to exploring the past to get excited about the very-near future—the “keeping it real” of ski history that is Platty’s feel and vibe. We will be posting classic ski videos and images to get you all primed for the new season.
If you’re cool with it, please hang with us while we dig around in the garage a little bit. In the meantime—I keep it real below: Me at 16. I’m the one in the pink goggles. Indeed.