Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Lost Tribe found in Davis, West Virginia

As a skier I have spent a good deal of my life exploring the world looking for truly unique ski experiences. I have skied overhead powder at Alta, Utah. Raced the Birkie in Wisconsin, dodged the old growth Hemlocks in the UP of Michigan, stumbled along the Canadian Ski Marathon (two days 180km) fought pine martins in the Gaspe, Quebec, bombed chutes in LaGrave, France with Doug Coombs and sucked Weiss beer after a huge day of spring touring in the Alberg and lastly skied Norway in all ways Nordic for weeks.

All of these experiences were extremely memorable and all of them truly spoke to the idea that ski experiences, technique and culture are most certainly regional. I say that in the idea of Anthropology. This means gear choices are made on the terrain you ski, this then dictates how you ski, where you ski and when you ski, it may even dictate what you eat and what you drink and who you ski with for that matter!

For most of my ski trips I can honestly say that in that vein there has been a lot of cross over. IE my tele boards were the same on my Alta trip as my Norway trip and the powder, aspects and ski lines close in scope as well, or perhaps my three pin light touring boards used on the Escarpment in the Porcupine Mountains were similar to the light touring set up I used in the Vermont woods. Certainly there are vast differences and each experience was unique but so to were the similarities numerous, after all its all skiing.

So you can imagine my excitement and my surprise and enjoyment when I finally after 10 years of thinking about it, visited Whitegrass Touring Center in the Canaan Valley, West Virginia. This truly is a unique place, not just in where it sits geographically but in how it is skied and in who skis there. I truly felt like I had landed in a new tribe, a place where the old ski axioms went out the window and where interesting and exciting skiing happens everyday, with interesting and exciting people. For me my trip to Whitegrass with my wife Margaret and my friends Mike and Shauna gave me hope, hope in the future of skiing, hope in people and hope in the future or our country.

The next few posts will speak about Whitegrass but if you are not into prose, then just realize this. One three day trip to Whitegrass for me, a lifelong and prolific skier, has changed how I look at many things in my life, so take it from me, change your life and book a ticket to West Virginia

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