Hug A Groomer

Today’s sunny skies, mild temperatures, and nonexistent crowds (Spring Break hangover, maybe?) were the perfect recipe to break out my brand spanking new-to-me telemark setup and take some Groomer Appreciation Time to practice dropping a knee. If you’ve been skiing a while you probably eschew the groomed runs and think they are boring. Well, believe me, they are not boring when after 25 years of alpine skiing you’re trying a new type of sliding on snow. Today I appreciated the groomers like never before. I would have hugged a cat driver had I met one (but I didn’t, because after all they work at night, all night long, and they have to get some sleep sometime).

Alyeska is known for its expansive expert terrain but you shouldn’t discount the starter slopes, either. There’s something novel about picking your way down runs you haven’t skied on in years because they’re not steep enough, or you like the freshies better, or you’ve gotten too cool for school and you want to avoid the crowds of beginners or what have you. Resting at the “SLOW” sign when you don’t usually have to gives you the opportunity to watch others ski, check out the view, and giggle to yourself when someone skis by making those “whoosh, whoosh” noises with his mouth every time he turns, without realizing he’s doing it.

I got to ski on some fine fresh groomers today and I must say that well tuned corduroy is heavenly when you need a consistent surface to slide on. I figured it was time for the folks that drive the cats to get some waking-hours kudos for their efforts, so please join me in giving a big THANK YOU to the groomers who work hard all night to make the mountain great for everyone. They even groomed Horror Hill last night, but I didn’t get to partake because my tele turn is, well, not good. I’m kind of disappointed that I’m not better at telemarking after two tries at it. Maybe I should take some lessons; more on that next week.

Jill Missal, head of GeargalJill Missal is the founder, editor, and all around Head Geargal at, a web site for the female outdoor enthusiast who wants to get the most out of her gear, and for the beginner who needs some help knowing where to start. Jill was raised in Alaska and has spent most of her life in the backcountry skiing, climbing, and trekking. When not testing gear for, Jill works as a consultant in the disaster planning and emergency management field, which takes her to amazing places in the world to do exciting projects. Jill figures that resting at the slow sign is a good opportunity to work on that coveted goggle tan. Jill also says, “Holy crap, thirty. It’s actually over thirty years of alpine skiing. Dang. I should have learned to telemark a long time ago. When my bones were rubber.”

1 Comment

  1. sky says:

    Thank you for a post like this. It brings a smile to my face to hear people are still going back and enjoying the groomed trails and appreciating the work that goes into them. Maybe one day one of those groomers will be around to accept your hug.

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