Buck Up—If You’re On Snow, It’s All Good

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On this day, that would have been my Dad’s 89th birthday, I’m thinking of him, and of his favorite bit of ski wisdom: “All Snow is Good Snow.” As he got older, and he needed more urging than us to get out there in all conditions, he added, “…but some snow is better than other snow.” I was thinking of that part of his statement last week, while skiing in the pouring rain that did not dampen the spirits of the few, but very enthusiastic, kids who showed up for training.

I’m not going to lie: Sometimes I really struggle to embrace Dad’s philosophy, especially when contemplating going up on the hill from the comfort of a warm dry room. I wonder if I’m too old for this, and if it’s time to become the fair weather skier that is trapped inside my soul. But as everyone who is in the sport knows,  once you get your boots on and get out there, you get suckered right back in.

This year, I’ve been fortunate enough to see and attend the spectrum of ski racing, from Men’s and Women’s World Cup racing at big resorts like Beaver Creek and Killington, to NCAA college carnival racing, to big field USSA races, to rope tow slaloms to last night’s Dual GS High School race at Crotched Mountain. They’ve all been brilliant in their own way, showcasing talent while bringing together a ski community that pitches in to make the races happen.

My most pleasant surprise so far has been the high school dual, run under the lights and in record time. It distilled ski racing to its pure essence of fun and competition. The field ran fast, the kids were psyched, the fastest ones dueled it out in a final and everybody got off the hill before frostbite set in.  The results were tabulated before everyone had their boots off, and awards were packages of cookies, which were gratefully received and consumed on the bus ride home. I have always fully appreciated the excitement and intensity of high level racing, but the scene at Crotched offered an excellent complement, while also validating the entire spectrum of the sport. Alongside Dad’s wisdom I’d say, “All ski racing is good ski racing…and there’s something out there for everyone.”

As I write this it is 10 below zero. This afternoon, I will go out, grudgingly, to schlep gates up a slow chair at a small area. I will complain to myself and possibly curse out loud (trust me—there is nobody around to hear) when my drill gets stuck and the gates fall all over the place, and I realize that the sweat that does nothing to warm my hands and feet has rendered my goggles useless. I will wonder why I do this.

And then the kids will show up, full of energy and wanting to know how to go faster. Through their own frustration and falls and frozen toes they will be cheerful and grateful. When all the various groups are done, the coaches will come inside to warm up and everyone will have a few laughs in the lodge. I’ll head home in the evening thinking of Buck, and of how grateful I am that he got me in to this sport. And yeah, even at 10 below, and even after all my complaining, all snow is good snow.

Wherever you are, in whatever conditions, I hope you enjoy your snow today.

Friday Night Lights, high school racing earlier this season at Pat’s Peak

17 thoughts on “Buck Up—If You’re On Snow, It’s All Good”

  1. Nice story, Many,many years ago I taught school at Cardigan Mountain w/ Karen Patnaude whose family owned/owns Pats Peak, nice to see it’s not one of the Lost Ski Areas of New England.

    • Pat’s is alive and well! The place was an absolute buzzing hive the night we were there. It was good to see. Thanks for reading!

    • Awww. Thanks Lynne. I do not have a kid at HHS. I only coach part time with them, and part time with Ford Sayre. It’s enough to get me out there though. Keeps you young…and cold!

  2. What a beautiful post! Happy birthday Buck!

    I can share your enthusiasm coaching the Summit (Colorado) High School Alpine ski team. Love the dual concept.

    With appreciation,

    John McMurtry

  3. Thanks Edie. Glad you and your team made it last night. That was fun. Thankfully keebler was on sale.

    • We had a blast. My only regret is that I did not get a shot of all the awards piled up before they were demolished. Brilliant race and well done. Thank you and your crew for hosting!

  4. Good story, RIP BUCK, an inspiration he was delivering such a simple thought of all snow is good snow and it is the truth! Your story done with great penmanship, wit, combined with polished down to earth humor on what all of us go through. As the we get on in our years of feeding those ski racing kids learning frenzy! Just being able to muster up enough energy to get out to coach those crazy kiddos! I just finished another -12 day on the slopes and not gonna lie either, I’m always have second thoughts when mother nature bears down on you this hard! But I continue to tell myself put my head down and getter done, telling myself its what you love to do, who you are, and once your out the door on the chair. Its only riding up with good thoughts on inspiring those kiddos with 1 more bit of wisdom, on how to take a tenth or two of there time this weekend at the SL race. Ha ha its my crazy passion that continues to drive me to perform my craft each and every day on hill even when its -20 n blowing like crazy after 40 some years of freezing my ass off still living the dream!

  5. Thanks Edie, your writing is poignant and beautifully captures our fair weather souls and our ski racing culture!

    My Dad is 83 and still getting his turns at Sunapee and mighty McIntyre!

    Bless Buck and keep writing,


  6. “Happy Birthday Buck” I felt that this morning Edie not going skiing, but it turned out a great powder day at Deer Valley, It sounded like rain all night, but once I got going and out the door it had snowed!. We were treated to geat snow and fresh powder all morning. I still have your Dads quote up on my bulletin board in my office, it’s my great reminder of Buck. I’m reading your article in a campground Elko NV, in our new Vansion, two great days at Solitude watching World Champinships SX and SBX. topped off with great snow at Deer Valley which I had never skied. I truly think all “Snow is Good Snow”and I agree with you all Ski Racing is “Good Ski Racing’. We just read about Blizzard Warning for Tahoe should be a fun drive home to Squaw tomorrow, more “Snow” which is great. thanks Edie!

  7. I met your Dad when I took up ski racing after being a gatekeeper throughout my kids race career. He was one I always looked forward to seeing at a race. Smart, witty and a great skier. He passed it on in you. BTW just wear a slicker when it rains as the snow feels so great underfoot. All snow is good snow!!!!!.

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