Even though basketball was by far my favorite winter sport, I ventured into other recreational activities each winter as documented in last week’s blogpost about skating pursuits. Skiing is the focus this week. My first attempt at skiing came around age 16 at Valley High Ski resort near Bellefontaine that had just opened a few years before in 1962. At the time, it was the only ski lodge in Ohio (now there are 5). The slopes have a vertical drop of only 300’ so the runs went rather quickly! Its name had been changed to Mad River Mountain Ski Resort before the original ski lodge that I recall was destroyed by fire in 2015 as shown in this photo.
A totally rebuilt lodge pictured below with slopes in the background opened in 2016.
Starting college in Michigan in 1967 exposed me to the larger slopes in that area like Alpine Valley at 380’ vertical drop.
But eventually we headed up north to places like Boyne Mountain, with a vertical drop of 500’. I distinctly recall going to Boyne with my girlfriend, now wife, who had never skied before. After a few trips on the bunny slope, we ventured up the ski lift to the top of the mountain. We literally rode the entire slope down on our butts, laughing but a little scared all the way!
After college, there were ski trips to Snowshoe Mountain in West Virginia where the vertical lifts were 1500’, the highest this side of the Rockies. By then, we could ski quite comfortably and really enjoyed the resort.
After our son was old enough to ski, we’d take him to local ski resorts in southeastern Michigan like Mt. Brighton and Mt. Holly, all nicknamed Mt. Trashmore because they were on former landfills. Such places were good for one day ski outings as opposed to driving hours up north to the larger mountains.
There was one memorable ski outing to Mt. Brighton with some friends and relatives who were visiting from Ohio. One of the skiers by the name of Dale forget his gloves so on the way to the ski resort, we stopped at a local store near the resort to buy a pair. Unfortunately, the only gloves available were yellow Handy Andy farmer's gloves like pictured below. Dale obviously took a lot of good-natured ribbing from the rest of us all day long, as you could see him in those bright gloves all over the slopes.
Although I’ve never skied out west in the Rockies or the Alps in Europe, summertime visits to both were very special and memorable. The Aspen trip involved a fraternity national convention described in this previous Coors Tour blogpost. Aspen's vertical drop is quite an increase at 4030 feet from the “bunny” slopes I was used to around home. Too bad it wasn't winter at the time.
Seeing the Alps was included in an alumni tour organized by my university in July, 2004 to Italy and Switzerland. We took a cogged railway to the peak of Jungfraubahnen in the Swiss Alps. It’s the highest train station in Europe at 11332 feet, with a vertical drop on its ski slopes of an astounding 5591’. Check out the following photos.
My skiing days are long gone due to bad knees; however, snowboarding does look interesting and likely a lot less stressful on the knees than conventional skis. Wonder if an old dog can be taught new tricks?
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