Around Thanksgiving, I went up to Squaw for a few weeks to get some powder skiing in. We'd just gotten a HUUGEE storm and I'd been pent up and not skiing since July. Needless to say, I was rearing to go. I rolled up to the locker room and began changing. I didn't really think much when I saw that old man walking by. He looked too frail to ski, and no less than 80 years old, so I figured that he was either working for Squaw or someone's grandfather. Continuing to get all of my gear on, my friends who I hadn't seen in almost 8 months came to greet me. Hugs were given, jokes were told, and the fire to ski on that first day was stoked in each of our hearts. Hurling out of the locker room at an olympic sprinter's pace, we clicked into our skis and skated over to the KT line as fast as our legs could push us. In line and out of breath, the smiles on all of our faces probably could have made even the angriest person grin just a teensy bit. A few seconds later, I recieved a deadarm that felt like Mike Tycen himself had punched me. I turned around, and to my surprise, it was that same frail old man that I had seen walking by me in the locker room. As I tried to wrap my brain around the fact that an 80+ year old man had just punched me harder than I'd ever been punched in my life, he said in a gruff voice, "Move aside sonny, the big dogs are here to play." My friends and I couldn't help but laugh. Sure, he'd managed to punch me pretty damn hard, but he couldn't possibly be able to outski three 17 year olds in their prime. With a devilish grin on his face, the old man tilted back on his heels and replied, "You boys'll see. I know every trick in your book." And with that, we gave him a hefty "Whatever you say, dude..."and turned back around.
About 15 minutes passed, and as we were loading the chair, I noticed that the old man wasn't behind us anymore. Nor was he anywhere to be seen in that madhouse of a liftline. Curious, I asked my friends if they'd seen the man and they both shook their heads. So, I assumed he'd gotten impatient and left to get on a different chair. Three quarters of the way to the top of the chair, our conversations and brains stopped processing as we saw the old man standing on a cornice quite close to a chair tower. Still not believing that it had been him that had punched me so hard, it was even more inconceivable that this old man had not only snaked the 100 people ahead of us, but had done it unnoticed. "I told you boys! I know every trick in your stupid little book! Just wait till you're my age!" And thats all he said before he carved in off of a gap in the cornice and made some of the most beautiful powder turns I'd ever seen. Whooping and hollering like a little kid in a playground, we watched and listened to the old man until he skied out of our sight and hearing. And so it was at the top of a mountain, on a cold windy day, on one of my favorite runs that I found my version of god. A man who truly lived up to the saying that you only get old if you let yourself. A man who even at age 80+, was still immature enough to mess with three punks in a liftline, snake 100 other people, and get fresh tracks down an baller run. Thats my god.