The Standard Race

For all of us growing up at Seven Springs Mountain Resort here in Pa., Lars Skylling, the Director of Skiing, was like a god to us. Handsome, with the Swedish accent, and great skier to boot, with Stein Eriksen form. We all looked up to Lars and wanted to emulate him on the slopes. Lars is shown here in this picture below, receiving his award for induction into the Pennsylvania Snow Sports Hall of Fame. He has the Tyrolean jacket on with the green tie- third from left in the back. Great guy, we all love Lars. He is retired now but I had the opportunity to ski with him a couple of years ago in Vail and for a guy in his elder years, he still made elegant turns. IMG_4952
So, when we were kids, Lars was the ski school director and he started an open race every Sunday after the day session ended that was called the Standard Race. My buddy Porter said it was called the Head Standard Race but in any event, it was an open, four gate flyer from the top of the front side of the mountain down to the finish line in front of the old warming hut. If you came within a certain percentage of the time that Lars laid down, you received either a gold, silver, or bronze “7” pin that we all clamored for with every run that we made. As we all got older and into our early teens, we were able to finally get that gold “7” because we were catching up to the master. However, Lars threw a surprise for all of us when he added the upper trail on the Stowe slope and jumped the corner when he made a right hand turn down on the Cortina Trail. Whoa!!!!! We all were taken by surprise and the conversation on the hill that day and on the chairlift to the start was whether we had the guts to jump the corner like Lars did. If we didn’t, there was no way we would get the gold so we all had to see if we had the bravado to do it and if we survived, we got the coveted pin. photo
One year, I decided that if I leaned forward at the finish line and tried to break the beam with my hand, I might be a little faster. Unfortunately, I blew out of my bindings when I lurched forward and took out the whole timing device and the electric eye. John Fraser and his dad came running out of the hut to see if I was ok, but the real challenge was to get the timing device up and running again. As we all crossed the finish line, Bob Rose would herd us into the station wagon that he had strategically placed outside the warming hut and the North Hills clan would eventually make it back to Pittsburgh with a dinner for the crowd at my folk’s house. My parents didn’t ski but they sure could cook and entertain. That was their contribution. All the kids talked about the race and how we ended up. If you got the gold pin, you were a stud, and everyone knew that the next step was the day that you would finally be able to beat Lars straight up. That day eventually came for most of us as we got older and faster. But no matter the outcome, we all loved Lars and if we were able to finally best his pacesetter time, it was a milestone in our skiing career that we would never forget. photo

The years have gone by but a lot of the guys who I still ski with at Seven Springs still have their pins. Porter, Jamie Edson, and me. Porter and Jamie proudly wear theirs in remembrance of an era gone by. NASTAR had taken over the citizen race arena with a much more sophisticated national ranking system and national championship. But the old Standard Race was a free form flyer that we all loved, and no matter what improvement we made with equipment upgrades, the prestige of that pin was something that is still remembered to this day. The Standard Race is a memory for all of us growing up at the last resort. So, Greg, Brad, Melissa,Dave Helmick, Heidi, all the Dupre girls, Johnny Fraser, Johnny McCarthy, Andy, Richard Nicolette, the Rose clan,the Edsons, the Rich clan, the Siegle clan, ………….dig out those “7”s and wear them with pride. You cut the corner, you survived the races, and you got your pins. Thanks for reading and enjoy the winter.

16 thoughts on “The Standard Race

  1. Janet McCloskey says:

    Such Great memories 👍

    Janet McCloskey Sent from my iPad

  2. patmccloskey says:

    I know you think I am crazy with my Seven Springs stuff dear, but it is in my blood like a lot of the people I mention here. Love you

  3. Bill belch says:

    A wonderful guy who was way ahead of his time , your 7 pin is the gold of great fun skiing. now we have a clue on pro skiers feel putting there all into all alpine skiing for not only for themselves as well as there country .
    this is a good time to thank all ski instructors for there tireless work !

  4. Melissa Thompson says:

    Love, love, love this Pat! I wish I could find a “7” – of any color! Will have to do a bit of digging! Thanks for the memories! xo

    • patmccloskey says:

      Thanks Melissa. You are a wonderful part of all of these Seven Springs memories. The Updegraffs- the first family of all families at Seven Springs. Hey- I know you have gold sevens somewhere. If you have any old bronze ones, do what Richard Nicolette did. He rubbed off the bronze paint and all of a sudden he had a silver pin. Only Richard would figure that out. Nobody like “the worm.” HAHAHAHA

  5. Philip Heffler says:

    CC is august 1 and 2 this year…NO EXCUSES! OUR 20TH YEAR… BE THERE OR….I was get Donny Seigle to kick your ass!!! FIL THE RIDE GENIUS! BRING JR TOO!

  6. […] February 19, 2015 by patmccloskey […]

  7. Rus Davies says:

    Thanks for the wonderful story, Pat. I met Lars briefly when I took my Associate Exam at 7 Springs in 1985. Then when I was Risk Manager and Operations Manager at Hidden Valley for the next decade I got to know Lars on a professional level. Then when I started teaching full time at Springs in February 1996 I got to know him better. What a class act, a gentlemen and a great contributor to the sport. The “Standard Race” that I remember was at Jay Peak Vermont. It was held on the trail named Standard. Jay is where I took a Learn to Ski Week two years in a row in 1966 and 1967. Back then it was called Walter Foger’s Natur Technik, a direct to parallel method. At the end of the ski week they ran the “standard race” I won a gold the first year and a gold with a C on it. The C signified that you were eligible to be a candidate to tryout for instructor. Of course I lived in Rochester NY at the time and worked at Xerox. There was no way I could go to Jay Peak to persue that avenue. I did, however join a ski school at a small hill outside of Rochester and also started to Ski Patrol there as well.

  8. Nina Skylling-Atkins says:

    Pat, it absolutely melts my heart to hear all of these old stories. As a child, dad was always just “dad” or Snoopy, as Lilly and I called him. He always told us if we could be him in skiing, or any sport for that matter, we could call him “Donald Duck”! It always made us laugh so hard and man did we try our hardest, because we thought how funny would it be if we would run around calling him Donald Duck! I am truly thankful for the life my mom and dad chose because it shaped the lives we have all 5 chosen to live today. We are either in Park City, Lake Tahoe or, in Lilly’s case, she came back home to live and enjoy Seven Springs. All of our kids LOVE skiing and it is something we all enjoy with our families. Let’s just say, I skied with my 5 year old on Monday and had a hard time keeping up with him on the east coast hard, icy snow we have in Tahoe, while he arced turns in his tuck… Blew my mind! It is so fun telling him the fun stories of his “Morfar” (Lars). When we go back to Seven Springs, he has said on numerous occasions, “mommy, how come everyone we pass wants to talk to morfar?” Thanks for all who do when they see him cruising around the Lodge. It keeps him young and smiling! And…dad has said on numerous occasions that he must be the luckiest guy in this world to live the life he has and still lives today at Seven Springs!
    Dave Helmick…Thanks for passing this blog onto Linda Belle, so we could all enjoy!

    • patmccloskey says:

      Thanks for these memories Nina. Your dad is the greatest. Janet and I are out in Beaver Creek skiing with Helen and Eric. Lots of fun and great memories I will be out in Tahoe in a couple of weeks.

  9. Gretski says:

    Headed to see his Holiness next week.
    Not jaggin!
    Want me to have your 7 pin blessed?

    Rosi Mittemeier

  10. Nina Skylling-Atkins says:

    Look us up when you are out here Pat! Maybe we can make some turns together! I will e-mail you my contact info.

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