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The People You Meet.

I was admiring my handiwork the other day adorning my Yeti water cooler with ski stickers collected from a couple of areas that I frequent.  In my lifetime, I have skied in a lot of different areas with the majority being in the New England area around the time I was preparing for my PSIA Certification Exam many years ago. I met a lot of characters in those days.  PSIA Examiners, coaches, and people like Toni Matt who recounted his famous Inferno Run down the Headwall of Tuckerman Ravine for the New England Ski Hall of Fame. The recording was collected at a PSIA event and dinner and I was fortunate enough to have a chat with the old master himself. In 57 years of skiing, I have been to areas in Canada, Europe and all over North America.  Not boasting – just accompanying the humbling tale I am about to unfold. 

Feeling pretty proud a couple of years ago with all of this, I ran into an older gentleman in the ski lodge at Seven Springs Mountain Resort.  We started chatting casually, and he introduced himself as Ogden Nutting.  The bell immediately went off in my head and I recognized the name as the patriarch of the local newspaper conglomeration The Ogden Newspapers. 

Turns out that ONI, as it is currently known, is the 10th largest newspaper communication entity in the country.  Aside from the ownership of the newspaper giant, Mr. Nutting and his son Bob are the owners of the Pittsburgh Pirates Baseball Club and Seven Springs Mountain Resort which is where I grew up skiing.  He asked if I skied Seven Springs frequently .  I said outside of a stint as a ski instructor in Maine in 1977, I have been a regular at the Springs since 1961.  He was happy and asked if I had skied anywhere else.  I proudly puffed my chest and said, “Well Mr. Nutting , I am proud to say that I have skied in 109 different areas in my lifetime.”  He looked at me with the eyes of a true enthusiast and quickly remarked that he had skied in over 500 different locations in his lifetime, all over the world.  Feeling like an icepick was being shoved into my already inflated chest, I said, “Wow Mr Nutting. That is truly impressive,” to which he replied, “Sonny—you have a long way to go.”  I will never catch that record.  No way no how. 

The point is you never know who you are talking to.  Kind of like when my friend Jan Palmer showed up at a local masters race and asked if he could forerun.  He was interning at WVU Hospital and wanted to have a go at a USSA GS Race in the area.  All the kids in the start area kind of snickered when Jan entered the starting gate with jeans, an old pair of Rossi Stratos, and old Lange Comp boots with the yellow cuffs.  There they were with all their capes and two pair of skis. Old Jan just blistered the course and blew everyone away.  Their eyes widened when they saw the time, and they all asked who that was.  I said, “Never judge a book by its cover, boys and girls.”  You never know who you are speaking to or skiing with.  You see, Jan was on the US Ski Team at one time with Billy Kidd as a 16 year old downhiller.  The fastest guy in the country at the time and gave it all up for medical school.

Humility was the lesson for me in the ski lodge that day with the venerable Mr. Nutting.  And the race kids on the hill that day got schooled by an old pro and a large slice of humble pie was served after Jan rocketed out of the starting gate. 


  1. Wonderful stories. Thanks for sharing them.

  2. Include, please, 65 and older

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