Three Generations

Category: Weekly Columns

free skier Evan Schwartz at Park City

      Freestyle skier Evan Schwartz at Park City – Photo by Zach Hellmuth

This past winter, beginning in mid-January, I spent the majority of my time in Park City, Utah. We intend to move there permanently in the summer of 2015 but, for now, we are shuttling between Park City and Los Angeles, the latter having been my primary home for my entire life.

The reasons for the move are many, but the simplistic ones are contained in my video, Why We Are Moving to Park City. The others, more economic and political, I’ll leave for another column. So much of California life has deteriorated during my life and the peace, tranquility, and beauty of Park City are ultimately irresistible as are the joys of skiing, golf, and other outdoor activities literally right at our doorstep there.

I met a remarkable young man, Evan Schwartz, skiing one day. He’s a freestyle skier who had been competing in the skiing half-pipe circuit, having previously been a moguls competitor. Along the way, he also played hockey, golf, and numerous other sports. He’s a natural, pure and simple. Skiing with him was inspiring as you can see from this quick video I made with him the first day we met – Evan Schwartz Soars.

Luke is an older ski buddy, both in age and the fact we’ve known each other nearly a decade. I met him at Mammoth Mountain and we skied together that first day and have arranged to ski together sporadically ever since. Luke came to visit and, as good fortune would have it, he came right after a recent snowfall which meant we would have powder skiing the next day.

I invited Evan to join us and we all tromped off to Alta, one of the oldest and most renowned ski resorts for powder in the world. I didn’t give the adventure much forethought other than I’d be skiing with two great skiers and we’d have a grand ol’ time!

Freestyle skiing

Luke is a very fit 40-year-old who loves tennis and soccer. Given that he isn’t able to ski that much each winter, every day he got to ski was a gift and he intended to enjoy it – ALL DAY. Evan is 24 and a fiercely talented and fit athlete. I was born in the fifties. Need I say more?

As I humorously recounted in my video from that day, Are We Skiing Yet? I was completely out-matched by my two friends. This was especially true thanks to a ski accident I’d had a couple of weeks prior. I was still sore and I’d taken a few days off to try and recuperate. As of this writing, I’m still sore so it was with this additional handicap that I set out to Alta with my friends.

On powder days, the goal is to find the best open terrain possible and make “first tracks” in the fresh snow. Luke knew Alta and knew exactly where he wanted to go. Upon off-loading from the chair lift he began a long traverse and hike to hit the best spot.

Beautiful Sky

I quickly fell behind, huffing and puffing, trying to keep up. The day only got worse from there. The skiing was glorious but I was so out-of-breath that I barely noticed. I realized how good it was from the video I watched afterward!

There I was at 60 with 24-year-old Evan, and 40-year-old Luke. What was I thinking?

We were three generations of ski lovers. However, we were also three generations of age and experience. Evan literally spent the day cliff jumping. Luke spent the day in search of the best powder, regardless of the effort it took to reach it. I spent the day cliff-videoing and cursing!

I imagine if I hadn’t had the fall I might have kept up and done better. At least that’s what I want to believe. Regardless, it was a stark reminder of the differences between the three of us. And it got me thinking further about those disparities beyond our conditioning.

Evan was going back to Vermont to finish college, do a summer internship, and figure out his next move both with skiing and a career. Luke is sharing the responsibility of raising his young daughter with his ex-wife while navigating a career in the medical world (not a MD) and trying to save money for retirement. I’m retired, a soon-to-be empty nester who works mostly for the fun and spiritual reward of it.

BJ at the top of the pipe

What did I learn? At my advanced age, I know that I have nothing to prove so I quickly declared that I was NOT GOING TO HIKE ANYMORE and that if Luke and Evan wanted to do so, they were welcome to continue without me. That was said with no rancor, just a sigh of resignation. Luke chose to diminish the hikes and I chose to break for lunch and quit a couple of hours before they did. It served all of us.

How different could we each be? How wonderful that is.