Thursday, January 21, 2010

Buck Hill

Buck Hill Minnesota will not impress anyone with it’s mountain stats: 310 vertical feet, and less than 60 inches of snowfall annually. Yet World Cup champion Lindsey Vonn got her start there, as did Kristina Koznick. Buck Hill’s racing coach, Erich Sailor, knows a bit about training ski racers and doesn’t need world-class terrain to do it.

For all the challenging terrain we have in the Wasatch, sometimes steeper isn’t what you need to improve as a skier. When we moved to Boise, I was shocked at how not steep the ski runs were. I set about developing my technique (which really wasn’t that good). I’m a better skier for having done so and doubt I would have seen the same improvement had I pushed myself to ski more difficult terrain rather than tried to ski easier terrain really well.

And so it is with JunkieBoy. He’s still learning as a skier. He does fine on green runs and can make it down some of the blue ones. But our favorite outing is night skiing on Chickadee at Snowbird. Chickadee would make Buck Hill seem big. I doubt it’s much more than 100 vertical feet, if that. Which makes it a perfect place to help a little guy hone his technique.

He still defaults to the “pizza,” but with some encouragement, he can put both skis on edge and lay a trench. If you’ve never watched a kid less than four feet tall and under 40 pounds carve a turn, it’s something to behold. His skis are 87cm long, so they come around fast. My skis handle more like a Buick, while his are like a Mini Cooper. Try as I might, I can’t match him turn for turn.

As a parent and a skier, I want him to be way better than me. This desire exhibits itself with constant encouragement to bend his knees and stay out of the back seat. He never hears me, and he never needs to, because the most important factor as to whether or not he’ll exceed my ability is whether or not he wants to. Success as a skier isn’t determined by hands forward, knees bent mechanics, it’s determined by whether the corners of your mouth are up or down. His are always up.


  1. turns out, dug got his start at buck hill too. yes he did.

    dug has enjoyed this opportunity to comment.

  2. Dug: I wondered about that and had always meant to ask you. Now I know.

  3. The best and worst day is the one when you cannot keep up with them any more.

  4. I love that grin, and I love that skiing puts it there.

  5. Buck Hill might be about to do it again; keep your eyes open for Paula Moltzan, a 15 year old just starting to rack up some serious points.