Photo by Matt Small
Julie Brown at Powder.com continued recently with her Pay It Forward interview series in which she finds the true locals in the ski/snowboard world, asks them a few soulful questions and then has them choose the next interviewee.
I love this series not only because she started at Crystal, but more importantly because these are the true heroes of our sport.
Her first interview was with Crystal Mountain’s Hugh Gren. Hugh paid it forward to Steve and the resulting interview can now be found at Powder.
People like Hugh and Steve aren’t skiing for sponsors. They aren’t posting their best runs to YouTube or even wearing POV cameras. On the chairlift, these guys aren’t worried about the battery life on their GoPro.
They’re scoping their next line.
They go to the mountains to ski, to hang out with their friends, and have fun. They aren’t there to burnish their image or work on their brand or post impossibly filtered photos to Instagram.
It’s no surprise, really, that Julie’s first two interviews were Crystal locals. Many of these guys and gals stay for weeks in trailers in B Lot, Crystal’s big parking lot ringed on one side with RV parking. A handful of the most colorful locals are known, simply, as the B Lot Boys.
Photo by Matt Small
Steve Fratella is the real deal. He’s been at Crystal for as many seasons as I have. He skis hard and flies well under the radar, and I’m thrilled to see him showcased in my favorite magazine. Thanks Steve for keeping it real.
Most of the people who read this blog probably already read Powder. Of course you do. But just in case you missed it, Crystal’s very own Hugh Gren was recently interviewed for a new series on Powder. The purpose of the series is for each interviewee to recommend the next one.
I recently ran into Hugh up on Chinook Pass, where he and a couple of other Crystal diehards were making the most of the remaining snow. They were taking turns shuttling each other to the top. I was riding my bike to the summit. It was Hugh’s turn to shuttle, and he stopped to cheer us on. And that’s a nice boost to get on those last few switchbacks from the summit. That’s just the kind of guy Hugh is. He may be a bit quirky and hyper, but above all else, Hugh has an infectious enthusiasm. He’s one of my favorite locals at Crystal.
Who did Hugh recommend for the next interview? Another Crystal favorite. But you’re going to have to read the article to find out.
Hugh Gren letting it all hang out on Chair 6
Is it still possible to chuck it all and become a ski bum? Or has the new resort landscape pushed the local culture out of the valleys they once called home?
Are locals even important anymore?
One of my favorite ski bums
Back in the Wild West days of the 80s (when I was a teenager on spring break in Sun Valley wanting so badly to own a pair of ISKI sunglasses and stretch pants) ski bums created the culture. Tourists wanted to emulate them–envying their ski-at-all-costs mentality.
Today ski towns are more chi-chi than ski. Ski areas have become ski resorts. And what has always been an expensive sport is edging out those that have somehow “made it work.”
While I’d argue this isn’t true everywhere, it certainly seems apparent in the more established ski towns around the West.
What’s left might be smaller ski areas with fewer employment opportunities, with places like Park City, Crested Butte and Aspen now a vacation spot for the 1% crowd.
This week on The Edge, I’m interviewing author and adventurer Jeremy Evans.
Whether exploring a ski town or a surfing village, Evans delves into the importance of the individuals that make a place home.
Tune in this week to The Edge as I talk to Evans about ski bums that made it work and the value of living life on the edge. Have a question for Evans? Leave a comment here or call in live on Wednesday at 8am 1-888-346-9144.
I recently watched this video, inspired all over again by these Canadian ski bums. Produced by Salomon Freeski TV last year, this video recaptures the love of the sport of skiing. These guys don’t allow grumpiness. And when they get to ski fresh lines all day long, I can see why. Oh, and I want to be Mary Woodward when I grow up.