Skiing and snowboarding have brought me a lot, maybe everything.
It's easy to get bogged down on the little things, honestly some of them are pretty big things. At the route of it, the very core of it all, there's a reason why we still do it. Watching somebody learn their first front 2 out of a rail, or stomp their first backflip will always get me stoked. No amount of bullshit from any resort, no saltiness from long sleepless nights at work, will ever take that away from me.
First season on park crew at Gore Mountain, NY fall 2006
I got into this industry completely by accident. That said getting into teaching was an intentional piece of growing up. When I was 14 I got a job at the local hill to get a pass and make it easier to stay out there. Getting into parks was an accident. I nearly got fired and simultaneously offered a job in the parks early season when I was 17. Somehow after all these seasons, those simple joys still ring true. I still get the joy out of the little things, even grooming a run nice and flat, or building something cool that people enjoy. The feeling of dragging my chest on a G'd out turn on early morning cord, a pow line, a front 3 off a rail. The same joy as I did carrying around shovels in my backpack building jumps at my local so we could catch some air.
Passion can go both ways, it can motivate you and it can destroy you. I've felt the pull from both ends. It's definitely allowed me to make poor decisions for myself because I was stoked and down for whatever to get things done. At the same time, it's the reason I'm still in the game and still learning.
Crystal Mountain, WA spring 2021
There are an endless possibility of routes people can choose in life. Some maybe better than others, but what is "right" really depends a ton on the person. There can definitely be a wrong answer, but if you can make it work, and it makes you happy, a lot of options can be right.
The ski industry can be a double edged sword. It's helped me into some of my darkest cubby holes, tucked away from any sunshine gleaming through the window(figuratively and literally have the window blacked out to sleep). It's also given me an expressive outlet and a way to give back in some regard to the future of the sport and in a sense my younger self.
Northstar CA, spring 2019
We're always evolving, we're growing we're learning. At one point we were(or are) the 14 year old's hucking themselves off anything. Nothing lasts forever and that change isn't necessarily bad. You can look back on your past self, pick it a part, dissect it and find some little things to dwell on but you can also find the heart within it.
There's a reason I used to wake my mom up by calling the home phone from downstairs so I could get to the mountain early. There's a reason I was the only person still riding many nights, getting turns or hiking my jumps trying to learn a new trick. There's a reason why I'm still here now. I've made it through a lot of shit. Average wear and tear, mental obstacles, injuries , but I'm still kicking.
Aspen Highlands, CO spring 2017
The mountains were a refuge when I was younger. I felt the way about my local as do many people. The vibe that some feel about their local skatepark or dirt trails is the same. The mountain is where I would go when nothing else made sense and somehow it would always make sense. I could learn a 540, or eat shit and knock the wind out of myself, get some good turns, or freeze sliding ice in -30 temps and it was still the only place I wanted to be.
That vibe is still there, the candle is still lit. You will not catch me night skiing when it's -30, and I'm not trying to huck myself too hard but that stoke is somewhere inside. It's something you can't necessarily quantify but we all know it exists. Whether it's throwing a proper line in the park or something casual, a sick chute that fucking scares you or the mellowest groomer turns. We are in it for a reason.
Ben Karkoski Oak Mountain, NY spring 2014
There's a lot of bad shit in this world. There's a lot of bad shit in the ski industry. Don't let anyone or the bullshit in this world take the feeling that the mountains give to you. People change and evolve. It's okay to move more away from skiing into other things. If that's your natural momentum then send it. But if your heart lies in the mountains don't let that go.
The world can feel like a strange place, there's limitless options and trajectories. Each of them offering varying degrees of positives as well as their own trappings. Everything is a tradeoff.
Gabe Zumpano Oak Mountain, NY spring 2013
We're rolling into another season right now and I just wanted to take the time to say that whether you're a weekend warrior at this point, a few days a month, or getting out several days a week, hold the fuck onto that stoke! Keep that shit in your heart. Let it burn through you in your turns, while you're hiking a rail, while you're waiting for your favorite cliff zones to open. Don't give that up for anything!
Your mountain might have just opened, opening this weekend, soon, closer to Christmas, but bring that stoke that you feel now from anticipation into it. Every season will end, but this season is beginning. That trick you wanted to try all summer? Now's your chance. That cliff you were scared to drop? Now's your chance. Wishing you got more days on the hill last year? Now's your chance!
The mountain is waiting for you! Let's bring the fucking heat!