[Editor Note: We are honored to publish one of John Christie’s last articles about skiing, snow, and the outdoors.  John was one of snow sports most ardent supporters, from his days as a college racer to the development and management of major ski resorts in Maine and Vermont. He passed away in the spring, and to us, he was an original ski hero. This article first appeared in Maine Seniors Magazine and re-publish here in its entirety with permission.]

John Christie as a young ski instructor.
John Christie as a young ski instructor.

With apologies to late night comedians (or, more precisely, to their stable of imaginative writers) I’ve been ruminating recently about all the reasons I love to get out on the slopes, and in the hopes that some of mine might resonate with you, here are my Top Ten, in random sequence:

#10 It’s good for you. Damn good, I’d suggest because it’s one of the handful of ways that you can actually get out and genuinely enjoy cold winter days. Your heart’ll pump a little harder, your skin’ll tingle, and you’ll come in after a chilly day on the slopes and really feel rejuvenated. At least that’s what happens to me. Good for both the body and the soul.

#9 It’s fun. Not to mention, although of course I will, exciting, exhilarating…even mood-altering. I see a lot more smiles than frowns on the lift and even in the line than I see virtually anywhere else in a crowd of a thousand people or more.

#8 It opens up a world of choices and opportunities, pretty close to home for most of us, for a variety of terrain, alpine and Nordic options, big mountain or community area. And the choices include not just the recreational ones. Some of the best brew pubs and dining spots are located at or in close proximity to Maine’s ski facilities, so the variety of ski and apres- ski options are practically limitless.

#7 It’s a great way to spend time, and even reconnect with, your spouse, kids, grandkids and loved ones. Some of the biggest smiles I see behind winter face masks are proud parents and grandparents watching their Bubble Cuffers progress, and kids realizing just how much fun this sport of ours can be. Family ski trips are the stuff of which life-long memories are made, and for good reason.

#6 Conversely, there are times in our stressful and hectic lives that it’s good to just get out in nature alone, on fresh corduroy on the side of a mountain or on a quiet cross country trail through evergreens bowed down by a recent snow. Leave the cell at home and just listen to the sounds of silence.

#5 It’s the perfect way to reconnect with old, like-minded friends with whom you don’t even have to exchange a word as you stop at the bottom of an epic run together. You all know what you’re thinking: “It doesn’t get any better than this!” Somehow, it seems to me, the bond between friends strengthens on a ski slope. I haven’t figured out why… and I don’t need to.

#4 And there’s no better place in Maine in the winter, I’d submit, to make new friends. To begin with, anyone you meet is a kindred spirit, binding the two of you together instantaneously because you share a very important secret: We’re the lucky ones who’ve figured out how to make winter not just tolerable but the best season of the year. The closest, most enduring friendships I enjoy either originated or were strengthened on a ski slope.

#3 It’s a chance to explore a new place, or even a new sport (snowboarding, for example) and broaden your experiential horizon. Maybe this is the year to head north to Quebec for the first time, or try out the new trails and lifts at the Camden Snow Bowl, or trek on skis or snowshoes for an overnight at one of the luxurious huts in the Maine Huts and Trails system.

#2 If you’ve never skied before, this could well be the year that you give it a shot. Trust me, you’re never too old to start. Recent dumps of snow have created some darn fine skiing, with even better to follow in February and March, and modern grooming machinery and techniques have given us surfaces unlike anything we’ve seen in recent memory. Improvements in snowmaking equipment have enabled operators to make more of the white stuff more quickly, and the snow that for years seemed somewhat unnatural, now feels exactly like God intended it.

#1 You’ll be helping Maine’s recreation-based economy. In a state where summer recreation was the elephant in the room, contributing the vast majority of tourism revenues during just a few short summer months, and much of it in the coastal counties, expenditures by skiers like us have helped even out the heretofore seasonal and geographic disparity. Many rural economies depend on us and deserve our support.

Credit: Jamie Walter
John Christie, 1937-2016. Credit: Jamie Walter

One Comment

  1. I was shocked in May when I received the call about John’s passing. When I started the Maine Ski Hall of Fame in 2003 he was one of the first skiers I recruited to help get things going. He knew just about everyone and everything about Maine skiing which made him a valuable member of our committee. It was easy to vote for him in the Class of 2006 and except for that year he was part of our emceeing cast each year. This was the first year without him and he was missed by all. We are unlikely to find another skier with the enthusiasm John shared so eagerly with other skiers and potential skiers. We who knew him and worked with him, miss him dearly. As a fellow writer about our sport I shared many of his thoughts and often times this winter I will think of him as I push off from the top of a mountain. All Maine skiers should take at least one run this winter in John Christie’s memory.
    Dave Irons, Chairman
    Maine Ski Hall of Fame Committee
    Fellow ski writer

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