It’s Thursday and you know what that means: a new night skiing cycle! Night skiing never fails to bring out the happy people and I love skiing with happy people. My friends Agnes and Matt Hage posted a great summary of a happy-people ski day a few days ago which should make you want to drop everything and go skiing right now with all your friends.
One very cool thing about Alyeska is that so many local people have been skiing there for years and there’s a little down-low ski family going on around the mountain. It’s not always the flashiest and best skiers that are most representative of a ski resort; sometimes you have to look a little harder to find the heart of a place. So I wanted to share a few moments from my last few visits that I think are reflective of the home-mountain-style ski hill that still exists at Alyeska; a place that has grown from a pipe dream and a tiny shack of a day lodge to a world-class ski destination in just fifty short years.
Last time I went night skiing I was almost run down by a guy merging from another run at high speed to get a good start for the long traverse over to the tram. It happens, but he didn’t say anything or so much as toss a “sorry” over his shoulder as he accelerated away. I admit this made me angry so I skated like mad to catch up with him and tell him he should ski under control. “I know, I was completely wrong,” he said immediately, from his full tuck. “I was going to look for you later to apologize,” he said, without losing any momentum. I couldn’t help but crack up and we chatted amiably while skiing at high speed all the way to the tram and parted peaceably. See, you can’t stay mad at anyone when you’re skiing.
The tram that night was full of happy folks enjoying the soft and fluffy conditions. A range of skier types crowded onto the car in high spirits, young high schoolers jostling amiably for position with middle-agers like me, tiny kids and their parents, a guy going full-90’s in his Steep Tech suit and monoboard, and formally-dressed Seven Glaciers patrons. When Empire of the Sun’s “Walking on a Dream” came over the speakers, everyone perked up and grooved to the music, singing “Tower swing!” along with the tune. Such a great moment on a great night of skiing.
Later that night I took my last run down the South Face and was happy to ski it really well; always a nice way to end an evening. As I hit the cat track, I heard a voice behind me bark, “Hey!” Afraid that I’d accidentally cut someone off, I spun around to see an older gentleman in a rather vintage North Face jacket skiing behind me. Instead of reaming me out for skiing fast, though, he nodded his head and said “Nice run,” clicked my pole with his, and rocketed off down the mountain like an Olympian. Who was that man?? I will probably never know, but he made my already-awesome night.
If you’re here reading this, you probably love skiing, and what better way to enjoy your sport than with a bunch of other people who love it too? I know I’ll be out there this weekend with all the other happy people!