The Mountain Times

°F Sun, April 20, 2014

Central Vermont's Most Popular Weekly Newspaper

The Mountain Journal: Weekend warriors, black diamond experts

It's early Saturday morning and the Killington Peak Base Lodge is bustling. Scattered around the room the talent is staggering. Most folks are buckling boots. Two men, in their early thirties, toss their boot bags and head outside. Through the glass their female companions watch the two friends skating off to the Superstar Express Quad. They grin and settle back down to breakfast. No one looks irritated. 

This is a regular, weekend, routine.

From cities throughout the East top skiers head north each weekend. Many head to Killington, with its diversity of terrain, and massive snowmaking, is a haven for experts. Sit in the Killington Base Lodge, or sit at Bear Mountain, and its clear the place draws lots of top guns each weekend.

It's true: These are weekend warriors; road warriors. They battle weather. They battle traffic. They'll battle crowds. Week after week. To ski, which has clearly become a passion.

Scan the base lodge your next weekend. Look for the weekend warriors. Perhaps you are, yourself, a warrior. It's certainly a large group. That afternoon the two fellows I spotted sounded as if they were from Hartford, Conn. Similar to many warriors they drove up Friday night. I saw them again Sunday, packing up to head home that afternoon.

That is the routine.

During the weekend many of these folks - guys and gals - ski like pros. In fact, watching some drop down under the lift on Superstar, one might easily imagine many could coach or teach. To many an onlooker they might might even pass for a local.
"I made a decision once," one fellow told me, "I decided I liked skiing so much that I wanted it to be my play time."
In truth, many ski like people who have spent a great deal of time on the mountain because they have. They've made similar decisions and protected their precious play time.

"It's surprising how many folks used to be ski bums or instructors - who literally lived on the mountain - still crave to ski weekends," noted one fellow. "There are alot of fine skiers on a big mountain and it's fun to guess where they came from, and how and where they developed their skills. You have to have donated alot of time to hone your skills, but you certainly don't have to be a local to be a top skier."

Joining a group of warriors at Killington that Saturday I saw a good many top skiers who now ski weekends. Some decided between a career in the ski industry and a career elsewhere, with weekends on the mountain. Some did not. Most balance employment outside of the mountains, in places like New York, Connecticut, or New Jersey with weekend travel.

If you ski the diamonds you can't help but notice that folks on the lifts turn, sometimes point, and watch as one or another carve up the mountain.

Balancing skiing, family and career can be challenging. For many folks weekends on the mountain are a great escape.

"Skiing weekends, I do sometimes wish for the old days," says a man who left the ski industry for a job in the city. "But putting the skis on brings back the love and fun of the sport."

Before Sunday afternoon, when it's once again time to stop and hit the road home, savor your day on the mountain, from that first run, to your last run.