A lot of people ask me why I ski at our local hill when I have the opportunity to ski all over the country. I tell them that I can’t be out west or in New England every week or weekend. You have to work, you know. So why would I just sit around on a Saturday morning and watch Sponge Bob Square Pants on the tube? Let’s have some love for the local ski hill!! Take Doug Shaffer for instance. Doug is a friend of mine who I ski with every weekend we are in town. Doug loves to ski like I do and spent a lot of time and money on ski camps with the Mahre twins when he was younger. His passion led to really good technique honed out west but also a lot of runs on the weekends at our home area of Seven Springs Mountain Resort here in Western Pa. We get together with our posse every Saturday morning consisting of Porter and Monty Scott, John McWilliams, the Edsons, Craig Morris and a host of others. We have a blast making turns and telling each other how good we were back “in the day.” Delusional but funny!
I skied not too long ago with Matt Ross in the rain up at Seven Springs. I don’t ever let the weather spoil my fun- you have to have the gear man!!! After a morning running the high speed lift, Matt remarked,” Pat- we just skied 26,000 vertical feet. That is like skiing from the summit of Mt. Everest to sea level.” Amazing! At our little area with some effort. Take a look at this crew in the picture above. This shows Jace Pasquale and Mike Andres in the black coaches uniforms surrounding masters racer Ken Fedorek. Jace was a fomer Women’s Pro Racer and Mike is a national class masters racer as well as the NASTAR pacesetter at Seven Springs. NASTAR is the recreational race program and the folks who feverishly race each other each weekend at Seven Springs call themselves Nastonians. They have a great time running the courses on their fiefdom of Nastonia which is 800 vertical feet of ski racing fun on the backside of our local mountain. Guys like masters racer extraodinaire Tim Sweeney buy skis expecially for the NASTAR courses. Check out their web site-www.nastonia.com All hail Nastonia!!!
A lot of world class racers developed their technique on little hills. Erich Sailer, a renowned Austrian coach runs an excellent race program at Buck Hill up in Minnesota. He has worked with Lindsey Vonn, Cindy Nelson and a host of other US Ski Team members at Buck Hill with repeated work through slalom and giant slalom training on a hill smaller than we have here in Western Pa. The same can be said about Cochran’s in Vermont. The Cochran family has many members that that were former Olympians and World Cup skiers. Cochran’s was developed by the father Mickey Cochran who lovingly put a lot of work into a family ski hill that became a prominent local hill for ski race training. My friend Eric Durfee said that while growing up in Vermont, Mickey would ask him and other junior racers to come to the hill in the fall and help pick rocks from the course to prepare for the winter training. This local maintenance was expected of all budding junior racers as well as adults who skied at Cochran’ with regularity. A great tradition with great pride formed with the local ski hill.
So the message here is don’t pooh pooh your local hill. You like to ski right? You want to get ready for your trip/trips-right? Then get out there and do it on your local hill. Hey Colorado- give Eldora some love!! You can avoid the traffic on I-70 and at the end of the day cruise down the Boulder Canyon Road and have a beer and a burger in Boulder. Hey Charlottesville,Va.- check out Wintergreen. Hey Minneapolis, St. Paul- go to Buck Hill soon!! Even you guys and gals out in Tahoe, when the lifts are on wind hold at the bigger areas, go ski Diamond Peak. A “gem” of an area with great slopes and trails for cheap!!! Sponge Bob and Patrick would be proud of your effort. Thanks for reading.