March 5, 2009

The Big LePowSki

Sarah and I recently attended The Big LePowSki, a 1-day skills clinic at Brighton sponsored by Black Diamond,, Brighton, Winter Wildlands Alliance, The North Face, Discrete Headwear, and Smith Optics. Proceeds from the event went toward the Billy Poole Memorial Foundation, which carries on Billy's generous spirit by introducing kids to skiing and outdoor programs. As someone who didn't grow up skiing, I care very deeply that Billy's legacy will resonate with a new generation of skiers. I won't pretend that I knew Billy well, but I had limited email contact with him. My immediate perception of Billy's character was one of sincerity and genuine appreciation for the world around him. These seem to be qualities that first come to mind for all his friends.

...ANYWAY, The Big LePowSki clinic was a huge success. Two-dozen top pro athletes converged on a field of 45 or so lucky amateurs, who paid a mere $55 apiece (included 2 clinics, lift ticket, lunch and after party) to mingle and ski with heros of skiing, telemarking and snowboarding. Names like Chris Davenport, Andrew McLean, Sage Cattabriga Alosa, Jen Berg (to name a few) were on hand to enthusiastically share their passion and experience with those of us who dream of being them for a day — those of us who are direct and indirect benefactors of Billy's legacy. Clinics included basic skills like "air-awareness" and "freeskiing 101" to more advanced clinics like "steeps" and "sliding rails". Sarah took "Women's Specific Air Awareness" with Kim Havell and "Women's Specific Skiing Steep Terrain" with Jen Berg. I opted to take "cliff-hucking" with Julian Carr and "360's" with Cody Barnhill. As if it weren't enough to watch these behemoths rock their own lines, I got to ride and joke with them, pick their brains, and have them cheer me on like some baseball fantasy camp. I'm proud to report I safely dropped a 20-foot cliff and pulled off a clean 360 with their help. Of course I was completely stoked all day long, but I feel like the athletes were as stoked as I was. And THAT's where Billy's spirit was felt the most. At the after-party, Julian and Cody talked ME up to their friends, which is just absurd.

My limited ski career (10 years) has been full of awakenings and personal milestones. Having moved from Boston to Utah 4 years ago, I've been fortunate to have many epic moments on skis. This one was one of the sickest yet. Thank you Billy, and thank you to all those who honor him in such an appropriate way.