It’s become an annual event, the XRT Ski & Snowboard Excursion to Granite Peak in Wausau, WI. I went on the trip a couple years ago because a friend of mine at the station was putting the whole thing together and they wanted one of the XRT DJs to act as a host for the weekend. I said I’d do it as long as they lined me up with a free snowboard rental and some lift tickets. Done. Now, I’d skied as a kid a little bit when I was growing up in Northern California, three hours from a gazillion world class ski resorts near Lake Tahoe, CA, but I’d never been on a snowboard in my life before March of 2011.
The good folks at Windy City Ski were spot-on with the bus rides and accommodations, and it was fun meeting a lot of the listeners on the ride up there and over a few drinks at the Great Dane Pub, which was right next to our hotel. Saturday morning comes around, first day on the hill, and I manage to get onto the chairlift that drops you off at the top of a nice, long green run. Oh, yeah, getting on the lift was easy, but getting off without looking like a complete rookie is tough. Not looking like a rookie is going to be difficult when that’s exactly what you are. Over the course of Saturday and Sunday, I hit the same run over and over again, taught myself the “falling leaf,” and by the end of the second day I was linking turns. The second I got home, I called my brother in CA (who had been snowboarding for close to 20 years) and told him that he was meeting me in Tahoe in a few weeks. I had to do this again. Two days at Heavenly in April of 2011 led to 2 more days at Mammoth in late May of 2011, which led to 2 more days at Squaw Valley over the 4th of July later that year (2010-2011 was a monster snow year in the Sierras, which made snowboarding on the 4th of July possible, in case you were wondering). Long story short, since that first taste of shredding at Granite Peak, I’ve been to Breckenridge, Vail, Beaver Creek, Big Sky, Crystal Mountain, Mt. Baker, and Mt. Shasta with Jackson Hole coming up in a week and a half and Valdez, AK in March. Look, you may not be as obsessive as I am when you hit the hill again for the first time in a long time, but the trip in 2011 really did set me off on a new trajectory, so I guess you could say that it was life-altering. There’s only one way to find out if it hits you the same way, right?
Register directly with Windy City Ski for the January 25-27 trip here, and you can try to win your way on to the trip here. Sadly, I can’t be a part of this one but you’re in good hands with this year’s host, Johnny Mars.
While you wait for January 25 to roll around, why not spend your time doing what I do for the 6 or 7 non-snow months of the year? What is it that I do, exactly? I watch what me and my good friends at Burton like to call, “snow porn.” Is the terrain at Granite Peak the same as the stuff that Kazu rides in the clip below? Not exactly, but you need to start somewhere, and for me (and hopefully for you too), Wausau, WI was a damn fine place to do so.