Wednesday, February 28, 2024
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The Chairlift: The Whitefish 'we'

by JULIE ENGLER
Whitefish Pilot | January 31, 2024 12:00 AM

The skiing was surprisingly good last week. Albeit odd, spring skiing in January was a hoot and almost everyone seemed to be having a great time.

One day, I rode chair lifts with three men of various ages and stages who described themselves as “spoiled.” 

An older man on Chair 6 mentioned parking near the mailboxes. I had to confirm he was talking about the parking near Hibernation and the fire station. He said that he gets his mail there, so thinks of that area in terms of the mailboxes. 

“Oh, you live here, on the mountain?” I asked.

“Yeah, I’m spoiled,” he replied.

My next ride was on Chair 1 with a young man who works in ticket sales on the mountain. Since he is on the hill every day, he can track the conditions and enjoys taking a few turns when he gets off work.

“It makes me feel spoiled,” he said of his ability to hit the slopes so often. 

Later on Chair 1, I overheard a high school student talking to his buddy about the high-end vehicles his family owns. He said, since he is able to discern the quality of a factory car audio system from the Bose system found in a Lexus, he may be spoiled.

I was left smiling, thinking about his self-awareness in the midst of privilege.

I’d wager most of us who enjoy skiing and boarding on the Big Mountain consider ourselves privileged, regardless of our bank accounts.

We, the Whitefish we, have learned to live with the big fog, cope with rime that coats our goggles, and roll with the unpredictability of the weather, the snow, other skiers and boarders, all while feeling fortunate for the ability to do so.

Even when expensive and highly-anticipated equipment has trouble getting off on the right foot, we express our disappointment with humor and bestow endearing nicknames, most notably – The Gambler.

It is this generally easy-going nature that is at the heart of what people mean when they refer to the character of this town.

So, I was slow on the uptake when riding Chair 7 with a retired man from the Midwest who, since the pandemic struck, spends winters in Montana, skiing every day at Whitefish Mountain Resort. 

When he griped about Chair 4, I figured he was just making small talk and I shrugged it off, but the man continued to grouse. 

I’ll spare you details of his grievances. In short, he believed someone should be fired because the grooming is “atrocious.” Apparently, grooming irregularities make it difficult for him to carve turns. 

In my 40 years of skiing the Big, I’d never heard anyone whine about grooming irregularities.

“Just adds to the challenge,” I sang.

To demonstrate his irritation, he stormed off the chair when we reached the summit, without the ubiquitous ‘Have a good day.’ 

Most of us who recreate at Whitefish Mountain Resort feel lucky to be there. We might even say we feel spoiled. Perhaps there are a few of us who are a bit too spoiled?

Have a good day.

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