Archive for March, 2011

Saying Goodbye to a Friend

The words were tough to hear on Sunday – a great friend of Schweitzer’s passed away.  Mark Stegall  left a legacy here and in many other areas of the country.  He was a great advocate of kids, snowboarding and all around fun on the mountain.  He coached some of the best snowboarders to ever come out of Schweitzer.  He was a coach in the true sense of the word – developing passion for the sport, teaching riding skills and guiding kids through attitude shifts.  He cared, truly cared about all those things as well. 

It wasn’t too long after he started working here – maybe 1999 when Mark came bounding in saying he had some ideas that he wanted to try.   That was an understatement.  He was a constant flow of ideas – always to benefit the kids.   A snow skate park, improvements to the terrain park, improvements to Stomp Games – they always centered around building programs for kids to learn and develop a passion for the sport he loved so much.   He spread his enthusiasm as a coach here for several years – we were so fortunate to have him around.

One can only hope that Mark realized the impact he had on the snowboard world while he was still living.  Legacy builders are few and far between – hopefully we all learned something from Mark during the seasons he spent here.  Mark you did make a difference in so many lives – thank you.



Current Events

As I’m sure we are all aware, there is some crazy stuff going on in the world right now. Libya, Japan, Egypt and lots of other areas are dealing with unrest that affects millions of people. These kinds of problems are a world away when you’re skiing powder or hot lapping the park. Of course, I think Schweitzer is paradise compared to anywhere, but you know what I mean. We’ve got it made in the shade here in our little mountain paradise. Of course, everyone has personal struggles and hardships to overcome. But for most of us here they don’t include catastrophic earthquakes, crazy dictators or revolutions.

With all these horrific events happening, I think it’s a good time for all of us to take a minute to reflect. I’ve talked before about how lucky we all are to be able to live/work/ride at Schweitzer, but I don’t think it’s something we think about enough. We should constantly be thankful for what we have here and thinking about those less fortunate.  Many of us will never know what it’s like to live through the kind of civil unrest going on in parts of the world. But all of us have a responsibility to do as much as we can to help those who are in those situations. (We also have a responsibility to not poach lines, cut in lift lines or run into fallen kids but that’s a whole other issue).

Donating your time or money to charities and relief groups is always great, but if nothing else, at least take some time to educate yourself about what’s going on in the world around you. We’re kind of in a bubble in this country, but things going on overseas will affect us in some ways, so I think it’s extremely important to keep updated on current events (possibly also because I’m a journalism major and it’s kind of required, but oh well!). It’s hard to keep in mind things that are happening thousands of miles away when there are fresh lines to be slayed and cornices to be dropped, but it’s a good habit to try and keep. Let’s all try to keep in mind how privileged we are here and remember to keep the snow dances going!

– Katie Ross, Intern

The Learning Curve

Whether it’s skiing, snowboarding, spelunking, taxidermy or sign language, learning a skill takes time. Everyone knows you don’t have expert ability right away. During that time, however long it is, you are learning. Some people pick up certain skills extremely fast; others extremely slow. When it comes to snowboarding, I happen to be one of the slow-ish ones. I’m in my third season, and I’d say I’m about in the middle of the arc of progression. Definitely not at the top. Hopefully not at the bottom.

I go through phases with my snowboarding where I get a little overly concerned about progression. Mostly this comes from the fact that 99% of the people I ride with are faster (and sometimes just plain better) than me. I get frustrated and angry with myself for not keeping up, making others wait for me, getting nervous on steep slopes, etc. and then I forget what it’s all about: having fun. Snowboarding is just not one of the fields where I necessarily excel under pressure (exhibit A: Mirus taking me down Australia and coaxingly encouraging me to “TURN! TURN!” the whole time. Not my ideal situation. However, it was probably pretty entertaining for him). Of course I know that I’ll never improve if I don’t push myself. But at the same time, I don’t want to lose sight of my priorities.

On Wednesday night I took my best friend Emily to Mt. Spokane for a snowboard lesson. Although she’s had a snowboard for a long time, she only rides a few days a year and never learned to turn on her toe edge. Seeing as I just learned that two years ago, the experience was fresh in my mind and I was able to relay it well enough that she was making full turns by the end of the night (for those of you who remember learning to snowboard-that’s a big deal!). It helped remind me that everyone starts out in the same place and how far I’ve come since then. It was a nice change to be on the teaching end!

On Friday, I set out alone to finish out some trails off Stella that I hadn’t marked off my trail map yet. Lately I’ve been catching an endless amount of you-know-what because Dave only has a few trails left on his map and I have about a few plus twenty. This is where your attitude comes into play: I was in a fantastic mood for no particular reason, so I set some specific goals for myself and accomplished every one: do every run off Stella I needed to mark off, and to finish out the day with a more challenging run that I normally do. I even got a job offer on the lift. Doesn’t get much better than that.

The thing we sometimes forget about learning curves is that they are completely individual. It’s all about you, your comfort level and your attitude. If I have more fun on lighter pitches and mellow tree runs, then that’s my deal. Shredding down Pucci’s Chute or Siberia just isn’t my scene (yet). And lately, I’ve become more okay with that. It’s all about enjoying yourself and having a good attitude about where you are in your learning curve as you attempt to traverse it. Take small victories as they come and remember to just have fun. If that means your style is a little mellower than the extreme cliff hucking, rail sliding, cornice dropping ripper then hey, man, it’s cool. Or if you are one of those super shredders, that’s cool too! Just do your own thing. That’s what I’ll be doing.

– Katie Ross, intern

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March 2011
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