skip to main content

Content Marketing (All)
The Boy That Was Never Supposed to Learn How to Ski

divider image for this post

Ever since I can remember I’ve wanted to ski.

It wasn’t just skiing, either, it was everthing. I wanted to get first tracks at Snowbird while the iconic red and blue trams crossed behind me, I wanted to carve Deer Valley cuorduroy with a personal mountain guide, I wanted to catch “big air” with the pros at Brighton.

The first time my uncle showed me his new Burton snowboard he might as well have been holding the Holy Grail.

There was just one problem.

We were poor.

As in, when I saw that Burton snowboard we were living in my grandmother’s basement until we could afford to live somewhere else.

So I’d faithfully watch the SkiUtah TV show on Saturday afternoons only to harshly snap back to the reality of being a noname kid in a small town with no allowance and a paper route that paid beans. I’d faithfully kept that route for years to buy a 10-speed bike, but no matter how hard I worked skiing felt a world away.

In many ways, I suppose it was.

Though, from time to time there were glimpses behind the curtain.

One year my brother got a pair of department-store plastic skis for Christmas. I’d even pay him to let me “borrow” them for a few minutes at a time. Over and over I’d make laps in an empty field by my grandma’s house, reenacting something like skiing’s version of a silent “3-2-1” countdown on playground basketball hoops.

Those skis had two rubber straps for bindings, which seemed to work well, but with no edges and no ankle support, we failed to conquer even the smallest sledding hill.

On a trip to the dump with my dad, I actually found a pair of skis. I was sure some heavenly light was shining past the misquitos and seagulls when I spotted them. But having no idea how bindings worked, I didn’t realize the entire toe piece was missing off both until weeks later.

Not ready to give up, I’d check the Sunday ads for ski sales only to be disappointed again when I realize, over and over, that my entire life savings wouldn’t even buy bindings.

Slowly, my dream of skiing seemed like a lost cause.

Then, when I was about 12, I heard about a radio contest with some very unique rules. On a certain day at a certain time, the DJ would name a prominent landmark in the Orem, UT area. Only the first 25 people to that spot would win. The rest would leave empty handed.

But it wasn’t the rules that intrigued me, it was the prize: free lift tickets to Sundance Ski Area.

This was it.

This was my chance.

It didn’t take long to get my brother on board and with two sets of puppy dog eyes now pleading with my mother to try, we got a YES. Undeterred by our lack of equipment, we soon discovered our aunt’s parents had old skis we could borrow. Our snow clothes weren’t waterproof, but we figured out some half-decent gear that would work well enough and counted down the days.

With my luck, I just knew we’d be #26 or #29…anything but winners.

At one point my mom suggested we’d try to find a way to ski even if we didn’t win, but looking back I think she was being kinder than our budget would allow.

The morning of the contest we left extra early and slowly drove around Orem, impatiently waiting for the announcement. Just when I was second guessing whether we had the date right, the DJ grabbed our attention: “the location is”, he began, “Cascade Golf Course!”

We were off.

Unfortunately, we were nowhere near the course when they made the announcement. But we tried anyway, my brother and I urging our mom to break traffic laws as soon as she obeyed them.

Finally we pulled up to the course, nervously rolled down the window and asked what number we were.

I couldn’t hear the exact place, but the next word was unmistakable, “congratulations!”

We were going skiing.

The thing I had dreamed about for most of my childhood was finally coming true. I couldn’t believe it. Our first run is still vividly etched in my mind as we all snowplowed our way down Stampede as cluelessly and awkwardly as you can imagine. The lift terrified me, but I couldn’t wait to get back up for another run. Aside from my brother, we were pretty awful, but it didn’t matter.

I was skiing, really skiing, and that was more than enough for me.

About Gregg & SlopeFillers
I've had more first-time visitors lately, so adding a quick "about" section. I started SlopeFillers in 2010 with the simple goal of sharing great resort marketing strategies. Today I run marketing for resort ecommerce and CRM provider Inntopia, my home mountain is the lovely Nordic Valley, and my favorite marketing campaign remains the Ski Utah TV show that sold me on skiing as a kid in the 90s.

Get the weekly digest.

New stories, ideas, and jobs delivered to your inbox every Friday morning.