Down Memory Runs

By Ray Grass Jan 10, 2010
Going back and skiing where it all began



    I made some runs at Brighton Resort over the weekend and a lot of old memories surfaced. My second attempt at skiing was at Brighton . . . and I spent many a day after waiting in lines for the Majestic and Mary (now the much longer and faster Crest Express) lifts, and catching a burger and fries in the very crowded old lodge.

    Things were so difficult in the beginning, and I look back now and wonder why. A little weight on the right ski and it turns. Simple. But not back then. Skis had a mind of their own and went were they wanted and not where I wanted.

     As I see it now, the old run I skied most often was off what was the Mary lift. It starts out as Mary Back and is a perfect beginner’s run -- gentle slope, in the trees for protection and just wide enough for slow, controlled turns. Back then it was more like a triple-black-diamond run. 

   On this latest trip, there was a woman midway down the run having a difficult time. She’d make a couple of forced turns -- hard steps instead of sliding -- then do the reverse wedge with tails touching and tips wide apart. She’d fall back and struggle to get up. I could never understand the urge to lean back as a method to slow down, but I did it.  It’s the old digging in the heels to stop, I guess. 

    I stopped and asked if I could help and got a terse “no thanks.’’ She was determined. Had she asked I would have suggested a lesson. Lessons do make life on the slopes a whole lot easier in the beginning. 

    All in all it was a perfect day. There was a firm base, groomed flat, with a few inches of new fluffy powder on top. Ego skiing, I call it. You glide into a turn and there’s enough new snow to help, but not so much that it doesn’t easily give. 

    Over on Millicent there was a junior race being held. More memories. I’ve been to a lot of junior races over the years and they’re fun to watch. Kids as young as five and six playing the role of a Ted Ligety, the Utah-based Olympic skier, walking around in their skin-tight race suits, encouraging teammates and cloaking nervousness. 

    There’s more determination and drive in this one area than you could ever find elsewhere. Standing on the sidelines are parents and grandparents cringing and hoping with every turn for a good run. 

    The one run I had to make that day was on, according to the map, the “Face.’’ It’s right below the off-load area on the Majestic lift. It’s fairly steep, maybe 75 yards long and drops maybe 100 feet. 

   That was a run in the early days that proved your grit. Runs for our group were never pretty. We’d make more falls than turns. Course we didn’t have to tell anyone that part, only that we skied the “Face.’’ 

    This time, for me, it was another of those good runs and one that at the end left me wondering what it was about the run that was so difficult. 

    Of course, the resort has changed a lot over the years. Back when, and I’m dating myself, Majestic and Mary were standard doubles and Millicent was a historic single. Now there’s not a double on the mountain -- four high-speed quads, one regular quad and a triple. 

    Now there are specially sculptured terrain parks for skiers and boarders. Our big challenge was ungroomed bumps and moguls, and pockets of snow that stopped turning skis.

    It was fun, though, looking back in time and skiing on  runs that were once so intimidating, but now, I realize, are perfect learning runs at all levels. 

    Good day, good snow, good memories.