All Snow is Good Snow

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Despite its inevitability there is no way to prepare for losing your Dad. A week after Buck took his final run bombing down to the Squaw Valley locker room, however, it is not loss that overwhelms me. Rather, it is a sense of abundance and gratitude for all that he gave to me, much of it through his uncompromising love for the sport of skiing.

As the calls, emails and stories flowed in, Buck’s favorite sayings surfaced, but one in particular stood out: “All snow is good snow.” This assessment of any skiing conditions, while similar to “a bad day of skiing is better than a good day of work,” was initially geared for the younger set. My cousin pointed out his suspicion that the line was employed, if not invented, to squelch potential whining. This makes sense. As weekend warriors my Dad could not afford to have picky kids who saved their A Game for groomers and champagne powder.

So yes, it was about the snow. But that simple statement says much more. To be sure, in the moment it says, “suck it up,” …as in “we crammed six people into the station wagon for four hours, chained up over the pass, hauled all the gear through the parking lot and wrestled four sets of feet into unyielding plastic boots—we’re going to ski and we’re going to like it!” It has a deeper meaning as well though, a reminder to be grateful for every day and every run, for the privilege of being outside and doing this sport with these fabulously fun people. Deeper still, it says “I know you’re with me. You’re a true skier, you’re one of us.”

This last part becomes crystal clear when the skiing community rallies around a cause or an event or a compatriot. Real skiers are a unique breed, dedicated as much to the type of people who share their passion as to the sport itself. One friend said it all when remembering Buck: “He was a nut. And I mean that in the best way.” Skiing needs its nuts, its champions who elevate it to a near-religious pursuit, and pass that pursuit to the next generation with sufficient reverence.

Coincidentally, when Buck made his final run I was preparing a short talk about the real gifts of sport. Number one on that list was friendships. Buck’s love of skiing became ours, and the people we met along the way became not only friends but an entire community built around topography vs geography. When I first moved east New England seemed a world away from California, until I found my way to its mountains and “my people.” That didn’t mean Buck totally approved. He was quick to remind me that the first corollary to “all snow is good snow,” is, “but some snow is better than other snow.” Despite the dig, he insisted on hauling his skis with him whenever he came to visit.

Yesterday Buck would have turned 86. It occurred to me he went to extreme lengths to get his family together for the occasion. As the living room filled with stories and hugs, laughter and tears, I felt him there, smiling at the wondrous web this one nutty passion had created. It snowed hard at Squaw last night. It warmed up and blew like hell in the East. Some skiers were hooting it up in the powder and others donned rain gear and dodged wet piles of muck. East, west and everywhere in between the true skiers clicked into their skis with a familiar, comforting connection and smiled, knowing that it’s all good.


26 thoughts on “All Snow is Good Snow”

  1. Nice story. Coincidence reading your story on the day Eliteam registration opens up. Your dad would be very proud.

  2. “If a slope can hold snow, you can ski it!” Your dad was such a giant. Cheers to a life particularly well lived; one that shows us all, the enormous reward for a passionate dedication to skiing. Lots of love…

  3. Heartfelt sympathies and hugs, Edie. Your dad is definitely doing an eternal snow dance and skiing endless laps in the ultimate big mountain bowls. No Sierra cement for him!

  4. Edie, sorry for losing your dad Buck, ” All snow is good snow ” will live on in the skiing community in honor of your dad’s ability to keep it real skiing was his passion, his gift to others who met him and were lucky enough to share a turn in the good snow with him, RIP BUCK 🙂 He’s now in good hands sharing Barry Thys stories with BJ. 🙂

  5. The families I see who are in love with this sport….beautiful Dad and piece and photos…photo memories say it all for me:) Enjoy the great memories and the ones you are creating with your family because of your Dad!

  6. Another wonderful article and one that your father would have treasured Love always to all of you and safe and sensational snow times always.
    Aunt Barbara

  7. Edie,

    What a wonderful tribute you have written to your father (and our (occasional) neighbor! Thank you.

    We heard of your loss just yesterday. And, we want you to know how much we appreciate your dad (and mom), your local family, and you guys back East. You each and all are in our prayers.

    Last winter your dad showed us a “no snow” picture in contrast to the “typical snow” of the house up in Tahoe. When we heard yesterday, we both recalled that picture and remarked how much more fitting this year has turned out to be by honoring Buck with a a plenty of snow. Thank goodness.


    • Thank you for reading and checking in Tom, and yes, it does seem fitting that it is a banner winter in Squaw, the way he loved it most!

  8. What a wonderful story and tribute to your father. So sorry for your loss. Truly hope you all can find piece and joy in the memories. Friends with your sister, Anne. Keeping you in our thoughts and prayers.

  9. Edie:

    I am really sorry to hear about your father. Your words were wonderful to read and brought back some memories. Your father took our family out for a run or two at Squaw one day perhaps 30+ years ago, and while skiing in icy conditions, he remarked how nice of a day it was on the mountain. We could not believe how someone who could pick and choose his days on the hill could be so positive and happy about such challenging conditions. I remember my father shaking his head, chuckling, saying to us, “Buck is a little bit crazy.” He had the same remark when your father spent a couple of hours showing us his computer weather screens at his house. Still, my parents (and we) had a lot of respect for your father and really enjoyed spending time with him and your mother. Take care,


    • Thanks so much Will. I must say his taste for ice declined in the years since that outing with you. But he was still game. Thanks for sharing that story. Your family certainly had a place in the skiing lore, and were part of many fun times in the mountains!

  10. I’m sorry for the loss of your dad. Being he and Nina’s neighbor to my dad, Bill Noble and family for all of these years means so much. Bill and Buck raced together, shared meals and stories. Oh, the stories! As far as skiing went Bill always says, “It was the best day skiing I’ve ever had”, no matter the weather or whatever the conditions may have been. Your article brought back so many memories to me the only difference is we drove to ski in a van. Thank you.

    • Your Dad was and is awesome. I had a chat with him right as he drive of to ski Sunday. What a guy! Still loves every minute of it. Thanks so much for your kind words and memories.

  11. Just saw this again, as I was looking to find out when the memorial is going to take place at OVI this afternoon….a very nice story Edith! I sure had a lot of fun talking with your dad about metallurgy while we were tuning our skis in the Member locker room. Small world too, your dad and my dad were at MIT together in the same department and both worked on reactors. My dad just moved on too…hope they are yakking about edge hardness while we are over at OVI 🙂


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