Big Sky: Return to the Peak

Big Sky: Return to the Peak

When one hears the word “Peak” they think of the obvious, the top of the mountain. But to me reaching the peak means more than getting to the top of the Lone Peak Tram. It means being at the best level of one’s ability and to live life to the highest with friends and family. My mission is to reach the “Peak” and ski the peak at Big Sky Montana, overcoming great adversity to becoming the skier that I had been 15 years ago.

In 1993 I made my last trip out west to Snowmass and Aspen. This was a college ski trip and I was at the top of my skiing form. I overcame a broken leg in high school my senior year of football and returned to the rockies. I never thought that this would be my last trip to big mountain skiing. There wasn’t the expanded back country at Snowmass and the amount of snow over Christmas break was average at best. I skied the bumps of Snowmass and the double diamonds at Aspen. But when I left Snowmass village wanting to ski that coveted powder day I vowed to return sooner than later. At that time I couldn’t comprehend the amount of pain and despair that I would be up against to return to the mountains for another chance.

During college I worked to become a basketball and football coach. I built my resume and increased my experience. I skied once or twice a year but mainly in the UP of Michigan. After College my new wife and I moved to Las Vegas to start our teaching careers and to start a family. Starting a new job and family put a new hold on getting back to the mountains. I finally returned to Wisconsin where I was closer to snow and could start skiing on a regular basis. But…

In the spring of 2004 I suffered a devistating Achilles tear. The injury resulted in 3 surgeries, the loss of 4 inches of my achilles tendon to infection, almost losing my leg below the knee due to the infection and wondering if I would ever ski again. I didn’t know if I would ever teach my son and daughter who were 3 and 4 at the time how to ski. My chances of returning to big mountain skiing seemed to be a big zero.

During this time, I was the head football coach at Shawano Community HS in Wisconsin. I had always preached to my players and students that adversity can always be overcome with discipline and a never say die attitude. I felt that if I just rolled over and let the near loss of my leg push me into a life without powder days then I was a hypocrite.

Over the last 4 years I dedicated myself to getting back to skiing at the level that I did in college. Of course now I am 34 years old and lifting weights and running just doesn’t make the body feel as good as when I was in college. This was not an easy process. When you are used to taking a Brett Favre size dose of Vicadin every day just to be able to get out of bed and teach gym class, training to be a skier was not an easy task.

In December 2005 I returned to the slopes. I taught my son and daughter how to ski at Whitecap Mountain ski resort in northern Wisconsin. I had to get new boots to fit my foot that was constantly swollen but I was able to ski. Not just by myself but with a 5 and 6 year old between my legs. The first day I dragged them up and down the tow rope. I guaranteed my wife that my leg would not hold back this opportunity to teach my kids to love sliding down snow on shaped boards.

Now it is approaching the winter of 2008/2009. I have been back on the slopes for the last three years. I have lost my 1987 Dynastar Supra Sport 99’s for a fat pair of 2006 Volkl Gotama’s. When I ride up on the lift guys will ask me why I am skiing powder skis in Wisconsin. I simply say, “Because I can, and they are a sweet ski.” After they see me rip down the icey groomers of Granite Peak their question has been answered with a visual aid.

My family and two of my close friends have planned a trip during Christmas break to Big Sky Montana. My mission is to get to the peak and ski Lone Peak at Big Sky. This mission is 5 years in the making. My mission has been strengthened by the rehabilitation of a bad leg, the opportunity of a father to leave a life long impression to my son Brandon and my Daughter Kaleigh and the drive to get myself back to the peak of skiing.

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