Posts Tagged 'stratton'

Shredding With Pop-Pop!

Click the link for six-minutes of music and unabashed, shameless senior showing-off.

Look for upcoming “It Gets Better” public service spots in which Pop -Pop consoles struggling beginner snowboarders.

Three Days At Stratton




Attends the start of  each new winter season 

I really can’t be doing this

Seventy-one years old and bundled against the arctic cold,

I am once again atop a mountain, on a snowboard like some stoner kid

I  flinch, almost botching my first turn

Tensed against the profound improbability of all this, I am getting in my own way

Dropping down, bending my knees, I rotate my upper body into the next turn

That’s it, that’s it

I begin to fly, carving the sunlit snow

The board sliding and edging under my shifting weight

Lost in a rush of adrenaline and joyous terror, I enter a state of pure kinetic form.

The ecstasy of being alive is again my own




The Fool On The Hill

That’s me in the corner. That’s me on the summit of Vermont’s Stratton Mountain mugging for the camera. That’s me not wearing a helmet.

Hey I was snowboarding and cool snowboarders don’t do anything that looks dorky or gorpy. I had consciously chosen to ride that day sans helmet No big deal. The next day with a helmet on, I, switched over to skis, the day’s highlight being a non-stop, high speed descent of a Black Diamond slope under the gondola. 

Back on the board the following day, I reluctantly, at my wife’s urgings, went back to wearing my helmet. On my third run of the day, a snowboarding repeat of my skiing the expert run from the top, I lost a heel edge on a particularly steep drop-off and went down hard, very hard, striking the back of my head on the hard pack ice beneath the inch of so of new powder. 

Even with the protection of the helmet, the impact from the fall left me momentarily dazed. I got back up, shook off the slight mental fog, finished that run and the rest of the day. Mid-afternoon of the next day, the muscles, tendons and all the stuff in my neck and in my abdomen began to seize up. By evening I could barely move my body without pain and audible wincing. 

For almost two weeks following my Stratton spill, I suffered what people rear-ended in an auto collision would call whiplash, nothing disabling, but uncomfortable enough and lasting long enough to put some manners on me. 

What was learned from this? Never again will I go out on a mountain to ski or snowboard without a helmet. I joked with friends that without my padded plastic lid, I might have been talking concussion a la the Flyers Simon Gagne. Not so, one friend said, “you might not be talking at all, a la Sonny Bono.

Back to the Dark Side

Home after four days at Stratton. I started off well enough, spending the first day boarding. It was on the second day that I fell into sin. I hadn’t skied in years, and this year for my seventieth birthday, my son presented me with a set of Head Liquid Metal, short, 163cm. parabolic skis. So it really wasn’t my fault.

Subjecting myself once again to the torture of hard-shell ski boots, I snapped into the new skis, riding a quad to the top of a Blue cruiser. A shaky start. these buggers are fast, very fast. As advertised, the new, shaped skis turn without effort, but the reduced edge length puts less metal on the snow surface. When you edge to control your speed coming out of a turn, it’s as if nothing really happens. I found myself zooming at frightening speeds before regaining control. My last outing on skis had been on straight, 185cm. The new skis were rather like moving from a Buick Regal to a Honda CBR 600.

My second day on skis was at Okemo, again staying on the Blues. However, with temperatures in the low teens and howling winds scouring the snow off the exposed surfaces, I was skiing on hard-pack boilerplate. To my surprise, the new skis performed better than I remember any in my over forty years of doing this stuff.

After two days on the skis, I snuck back to the cool side, to boarding. Whether it was the change of pace or what, my riding on after two days of skiing was about the best I’ve ever experienced. I felt on top of my game, pulling out the stops and going until something like adrenaline depletion forced me to call it a day. Can’t wait to get back out. It will be a tough decision; ski, board, ski, board? Stay tuned.