Today was my last day at Bridger Bowl as an employee. I went up for employee day and rode the lifts with Angela and John Saam and Shannon, Karen, and Alex, skied on about 3" of fresh wet snow while it dumped some more, and stayed on the "groom" (frozen solid underneath).
It was odd, bittersweet for sure to be saying good bye to the mountain... I am still pretty sick, my tonsils were bleeding and pussy the other day, always fun, and this morning, I squeezed a bunch of snot out of my tear duct from my sinus... always a pleasure to blow your nose through your eye... wow...
I took a couple of runs, and looked at the familiar landscape and tried to separate the emotions, I have gratitude for the mountain itself, it has been an amazing teacher, the steeps, the technical chutes, the complicated fall lines, the wild terrain, the snow changing every couple of turns... I am so grateful to have learned on this mountain.
And I thought a lot about all the folks who have helped me through the last three years. I saw Josh Spuhler out there skiing today with his girlfriend, Lara, of course, they were playing on Flippers in this gnarly snow. I remember riding the PK lift with Josh last year and him telling me that I could do it, that he believed in me, that I had to not listen to the naysayers but know I was strong enough, that I had to keep changing every turn.
His faith in me and my ability helped me to believe in my own dream, made me think maybe it wasn't just a crazy idea, but that I could really do it. I was sad to be saying good bye to the hill for that reason, but it was also sad because Josh and I have grown apart this year, his life is taking him in one direction and mine in another. But I will always be grateful and beholden to him for his extraordinary ability to make people believe in themselves. Josh taught me a lot of things, but the two biggest ones were to laugh at myself every time I crash, and that I need to be my own biggest advocate; I need to believe in me. I didn't get to say good bye to Josh in person, but I think maybe that's what he wanted, it was nice to just watch him ski and remember how it was, remember him taking me up on the ridge and waiting patiently while I made one turn and fell on the next over and over and over again...
I wanted to say good bye and thank you to Bonnie as well, but the awards had started, and she was sitting up front and paying attention, so I didn't get the opportunity. But I appreciate that she took a chance on me in the beginning, and gave me some sage pieces of advice over the last few years, most especially about making sure I stay connected to my kids through this whole process, and came out and played with me some this year. I wish we'd had more of a chance to play together, it was really fun! I was also really grateful that she was understanding about me leaving for Aspen. I know its a source of frustration for her that people have been tending to achieve full cert and leave Bridger either for a change in their life, like grad school, or for another mountain. So I was really grateful to how she took it when I told her, and for her support. I hope I come back one day, I already miss it.
Its funny to me, a lot of people think I'm going to Aspen because its ASPEN, the glitz, the big show... and its interesting, because that's about as far from the truth as possible. I lived in Los Angeles for years, the glitz leaves me cold. Its actually the one thing that makes me nervous about moving there, I'm worried about how that will affect the kids. I have learned in my time there that you really don't have to see that much of it if you choose to travel in a different circle. Its there if that's what you desire, and sometimes its fun to watch, but in general, Aspen is a skiers town. There are plenty of big, wild peaks to conquer on your own, and 1400 ski instructors in town to play with, 960 of whom are full cert. I'm excited to be a little fish in a big pond.
I'm going to Aspen because it fits my path, they have been welcoming of me, desiring me to come and work and play with them, they are open to my coaching concepts, and my mentors are there, Megan, Squatty and Weems. I feel when I drive into the town like I am going home.
SO... I rode the chair trying to pay attention to Flippers beneath me, the chutes off the ridge, what it was like to empty my locker and say good bye to the locker room where I learned not to tuck my long johns into my socks... to realize that Shannon and I won't have our lockers next to each other any more, that this chapter is closing.
Angela drove me down the hill in the snowstorm, and I realized with some growing excitement that I'm not driving away from something but towards something new.
I'm grateful to have the next two weeks to end the season looking forward to next year, to ski hard at Snowbird and reconnect with friends from all over the country. I'll be saying thanks to some of my sponsors while I'm out there, doing some demos for Skiers Edge Machine, taking pictures for National, giving some massage, and training hard in the snow.
When I get back, its back to school for good, with an eye on making the move to Aspen as pain and stress free for the kids as possible. Tom and I have been brainstorming on how to do this, because our savings is tied up in our house, so there is some trepidation about how to come up with 2 or 3 months rent to overlap 2 or 3 months mortgage, so we are thinking of refi-ing again now, to make a little cushion for the move.
Tomorrow, we see if we can make it to Snowbird with $86 to our name, I think that's enough gas money... once again, the paycheck will come in about 2 days after I leave on the trip, so it will be about 4 days before it goes into my account. Always the drama with the money, another reason I'm looking forward to living close to the training I crave, having fewer bills and a better paying job!
So with some sadness, I say good bye Bridger Bowl, and thank you, so very much, for such a decidedly surprising education. And to Dave Evans, you ruined my life forever. Thanks a bunch. I'll never ever forgive you.