Tag Archives: Ski Bum

Dedication to the Sport

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Takes one to know one. Sid Kurtz, Dirtbag King

Takes one to know one. Sid Kurtz, Dirtbag King

I recently caught up with Sid Kurtz, reigning Crystal Mountain Dirtbag King, and asked him what it took to be a member of the royalty. He said, “It’s dedication to the sport, man.” To be a true dirtbag, according to Sid, you have to be here when it rains, when it doesn’t snow, when the conditions are firm, when everyone else finds fix-it projects around the house.

I love that.

It got me thinking about dedication to skiing. It takes all kinds. There are the dirtbag types–those that surf couches in exchange for shoveling snow. There are fathers teaching their sons to sky–like the man I rode the Forest Queen chairlift with on Sunday. His young son watched jibbers hitting the Sasquatch Park and told his dad he thought jumping was awesome. The dad reminded him that controlling his skis was the first step. Once he learned how to stop and turn, then he could try out the jumps. Later, the son asked if the “wire moved” on the lift. His dad explained in painstaking detail how the chairs detached from the cable when coming into the bull wheel in order to slow down. He explained it better than I could have.

Not every day is bluebird.

Not every day is bluebird.

Then there’s the weekend warriors that fill B Lot with their RVs. Campfires flicker in the wind, illuminating these temporary abodes. Every Friday night the RV lot fills with the same vehicles, spots are staked out and neighbors chosen. By Monday morning the RVers have returned to work and left B Lot empty.

So what does it mean to be dedicated to your sport? I’ve had the opportunity to interview athletes and adventurers for my upcoming book, and every one of them is dedicated to their sport. I’ve been noticing what it takes to be dedicated to skiing.

Dirtbag Royalty, like Sid, are obviously dedicated. RV families that book a slot every weekend are dedicated too. So is the dad that carefully explains the workings of a detachable quad to his son. As is the mom that parked in Employee Housing with her daughter, rode the shuttle, rented skis, and finally got on the lift nearly an hour later. The midweek pass holders with the slopes to themselves on weekdays are dedicated. The CMAC parent that laps the race course, taking video of her son every weekend knows what it means.

To be a snow sports enthusiast, you have to put in some effort. Anyone that chooses skiing as their sport, arriving dutifully to the slopes every Friday/Wednesday/Sunday or whatever day of the week, regardless of the weather, knows what I’m talking about.

Skiing isn’t easy. Neither is snowboarding (although some might argue with me on that). It takes a little effort to get out on the slopes. But it’s worth it. The effort and dedication are worth it.

What do you think? What does dedication to the sport mean to you?

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Powder Highway Ski Bum Contest

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So you think you’re the ultimate ski bum? You think you’ve laid it all out on the line, thrown in the corporate towel, are ready to go big or go home? Can you go head-to-head with some serious ski bums to win the ultimate prize? Check out the Powder Highway Ski Bum contest and see how you stack up. You could win a 3 Month Epic Ski Adventure. And when they say epic adventure, they mean it. Here’s what you get:

So, you might ask, what’s the catch? Well, you should ask anyway. You need to post a photo and and bio explaining why YOU are the ultimate ski bum. Before you post your entry, go and have a look at the competition. From “West Coast Pow Slasher” to “Hillbilly Pow Hunter” these bums are the real deal.

Here’s a little video to whet your appetite:

What do you think? You got what it takes to live the dream this season?

Ladies in a Ski Town: Warnings from a Veteran

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Girls Just Wanna Have Fun

You’re a woman and you want to move to a ski town. Why not? Who wouldn’t want to live in a place where others come for fun and vacation? The scenery is breathtaking, opportunities for fresh tracks abound and the pickings are easy. For women, at least.

For a single woman in a ski town, it’s like a smorgasbord of men–all glistening with hope that you will pick them. Ski town guys have a saying for when their brief romances end: “you didn’t lose your girlfriend, you lost your turn.”

Herein lies the rub.

If you come to a ski town as a single woman, in order to smell the freedom on

Patrol gals know how to party

the wind, carve turns through pristine powder and perhaps sow a few oats, just remember that you probably won’t stay single for long. Not unless you work at it. Besides, you don’t want to be passed around so often that when you walk into a crowded après ski bar you can point to each guy and say, “slept with him, slept with him, slept with him.”

Unless of course you do, and in that case I can point you towards a gal who’s been spam-tweeting me naked photos of herself. It’s not lovely. Don’t be that girl.

Instead, you have to learn to be a little picky.

At the beginning of each ski season, I invariably have the same conversation at

photo by Chris Morin

the Snorting Elk with any number of similar guys. “So Kim,” Single Guy says over the foam of his beer. “Who’s the new ski patrol chic?”

“Oh,” I’ll say, scanning the ski patrol table in the corner. “Do you mean Anna/Leah/Sara/Shannon?” or whoever the newest female patroller happens to be.

Single Guy will waggle his eyebrows. “Yeah. So is she available.”

“Don’t you want to know about her first? Like how awesome she is?”

“She’s on the ski patrol, so obviously she can ski. Does she throw bombs?” He’ll ask, visibly starting to squirm.

“Of course.”

“Then I’m officially interested.”

I will stare at him and squinch my lower eyelids up a fraction towards my upper ones. “I’ll alert the media.”

He’ll smile. He might swagger. He might offer to buy me another beer. He’s buttering me up because he knows that veteran ski town women usually try to teach the newbies a thing or two about ski town life, before it’s too late. Single Guy will hope that by getting in good with me, I might pass on a good word to our newbie. And I might. I’ve been known to do this.

But more often than not, I pass on a warning to the new single ladies. Be picky. Choose wisely. Or don’t choose at all.

Ski town woman are usually looking for a ski partner in their male

Sorry Guys, these Ladies are taken

counterparts–someone who will challenge them, introduce them to other locals, teach them how to be first on the chair on a powder morning. Guys aren’t looking for that. They already have ski buddies to spend their days with. Instead, it’s the other 12 unoccupied hours they are hoping to fill when they court the new girl in town.

Instead ladies, look first to make friends with the veteran women. We’re a friendly, and for the most part, non-jealous lot. We wouldn’t care less if you did saunter in and steal away the most core dude in the valley. In fact, be our guest. You can have him.

Most of us have found the man of our dreams, and he’s happy to have us. But what we don’t have too much of is female friends. We’ll introduce you to the locals and show you a few of the more well-known stashes. We can show you a rope or two, before, sooner or later, you’ll settle on one of the dudes.

And that’s fine. That’s good. Go find yourself a guy. Just be a little picky, because as much as I like Single Guy #1-20, I’m not sure I’d want to marry him. If you know what I mean.

What do you think about romance on the slopes? Is it still possible? Any Single Guys out there want to throw their .02 in? We’re all ears.

My Favorite Ski Bum

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I hate to play favorites. But when it comes to ski bums, I love Ross Gregg best of all. Ross has it all going for him: he lives in a log cabin near Crystal, he’s a retired ski

Quintessential Ross

patroller AND he’s royalty (Dirt Bag Royalty, that is).

I first met Ross at the top of the Forest Queen chair. He introduced himself and a little gear in my brain clicked into place. So this is Ross Gregg. Of course it is!

I’d heard all about him, a former ski patroller, at both Jackson Hole and Crystal. The gully on Sunnyside was named for him: Gregg’s Gulch, when he got caught in an avalanche there back in the 1970s. But most of all, I knew him as the guy with the skinny skis. I asked him about his circa 1990 Rossignols.

“They look brand new,” I told him. But what I really want to know was where in the world he found them.

Ross just smiled. He gestured from his cream beret style hat to aged sweater down to his red-piping stretch pants a la 1975. “It’s one man against an industry, Kim.”

Ross is not a man to take to new-fangled fads. He isn’t the first one to try out a new ski design or fashion. Instead, he’s remained true to his old Rossignol

Ross Gregg demos new skis at Crystal Mountain

skis. In fact, since the company doesn’t make them anymore, he has a stash of them in his log cabin. He’s resourceful.

But a few years ago, someone, perhaps Sharon, who shared his year of Dirt Bag Royalty as the Queen to his King, talked him into trying a wider pair of skis, Stocklis.

It's a Whole New World on Fat Skis

No matter the conditions or the state of his gear, when you see Ross skiing, he’s always smiling. But on that day, when I ran into him at the top of Green Valley and noticed his skis, his grin was as wide as the base of Mt. Rainier.

“How do you like them?” I asked. It was an honest-to-goodness powder day. A foot of new on a Tuesday morning, no crowds with just a hint of cloud dampening the sun.

He looked at me and smiled. “Well, Kim, what can I say? It’s a whole new world.”

Ross, like any self respecting ski bum now has a quiver of skis. Since he skis most every day (the advantages of log cabin-solo-retired living), he can be found on his skinnys on a groomer day or his fattys on a powder day.

I caught up with him in Silver Basin a few months ago on his Stocklis. A few feet of silky fresh snow blanketed the slopes and Ross carved through it like a sharp pair of scissors.

Smiling in Silver Basin

I want to be like Ross someday–skiing and smiling my way through winter, and finding out that even after a lifetime on the slopes, it can always be “a whole new world.”