I feel like I am living in a dream. This can’t be real. I know everyone always says “do what you love and you will never work a day in your life” and for the longest time I thought that was complete b.s. But now here I am, having just headed up the Motherlode Chair and standing at the top of Granite Peak at Red Mountain in British Columbia. Next to me is Griffin Post, an absolute legend in the ski world taking the time to ski with me, some kid from Boston. On our feet are some of the best skis in the world, next year’s new Kastle lineup; oh, and did I mention the clouds just opened up to dump a fresh covering over the Canadian Rockies? 

THE KID FROM BOSTON

Let’s back up a little bit. It’s the fall of 2016, and I’m a third-year at Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts and I’m having a quarter-life crisis. I switched majors, dropping Computer Science, convincing myself to focus on the world of Finance. I’m frantically adding and dropping classes, and I’m starting to realize “the path” that I'd been following my whole adult life might not actually be what I wanted to follow. So what do you do when you’re stressing out, questioning all the decisions you’ve made up to that point? You ignore everything, obviously, and look for a distraction from your oncoming dread. 

This was how I came across The Ski Monster, my local ski shop here in Boston. Figuring it would be a good way to pass the time for a few hours a week when I wasn’t stressing out about school, plus a decent way to make a couple bucks, I do what a business student is supposed to do: research the company online, write a cover letter, and e-mail a resume. 

A few weeks go by and I’ve heard nothing back. Complete radio silence. I’m determined not to give up too easily so I decide to head over to the Canal Street to check out the shop in person and see if there was someone I could talk to. When I walk in, my life changes in an instant. There’s music blasting in the store, a fridge stocked full of New England’s best IPAs, and the biggest ski selection I’d ever seen in one place. This wasn’t just the coolest ski shop I’d ever been in, right off the bat this was one of the coolest places I’d ever been in. The game plan changed. This was it. I needed to work here, no question about it. I asked for George, the name of my contact, with no idea what to expect. The homie who comes out to meet me has blonde hair down to his shoulders, and a Napoleon Dynamite tee, this dude knows what’s up. Luckily, I have brown hair down to my shoulders and after a quick conversation about what skis I’ve been rocking and what conditioner I use, I have myself a part-time job. That following Monday marked the beginning of the rest of my life. 

TSM

My first season at 60 Canal St was in the basement, working with our head technician Craig. My job was to tune skis, dabble in some minor p-tex repairs, and take out the trash. Oh, and stay the efff off of the sales floor. And get Eric a coffee when he got cranky. I absolutely loved it. I remembering sitting in class staring at the clock waiting to rush out so I could go to work. For the first time in my life I was stoked to work…how could that make sense?

Up until now it was always my understanding that your job was simply the thing you had to do because you had to do it. You graduate high school, go to college, take some internships, and then graduate to a job that made you enough money to pay back your loans from going to school. That was the path that had been preached to me, and before The Ski Monster all of my previous internships and co-ops followed that similar theme. I was there not because I wanted to be, but because somebody told me it was a good opportunity, that it would get me one step closer to another place that I ultimately didn’t want to be. 

This was the first time in my life that it felt different. I spent the next few years dedicating my time and energy to the business I’d come to love. Without a doubt being at the shop on weekends and weeknights I missed out on some cool trips and experiences with my friends, but I never regretted it for a second. Even the semester I spent working a full time internship at a financial firm I’d run the 12 blocks over to the store every day at 5:00 to help with the last few hours of the day. Eventually, I learned my way around the ski wall and the boot wall, and how to interact with customers. I was freed from the basement (as George put it) and taking out the trash was replaced on my list of responsibilities with ski sales, custom bootfitting, testing out next year’s skis and writing my reviews on them for the website. It was, however, still my job to get Eric his 3:35 lattè. I graduated Northeastern University on a Sunday in May of 2019. My family drives out to Boston from Upstate New York for the ceremony and a nice dinner afterwards. I have my diploma and as clear a direction as I’ve ever had in my life. The next day, a Monday, is my first official day as a Ski Monster full timer. 

ROAD TO RED

It’s January 27, 2020. 6pm on a Monday. Pure chaos time at the shop right in the middle of peak chaos season. I’m in the middle of two bootfits and the store is absolutely slammed, as it’s been seemingly every minute for the last 12 weeks, as Eric comes up to me with a grin covering his face from ear to ear. I knew he was up to something but had to get back to my customers so I went back up the stairs boots-in-hand to see George at the top of the stairs with the same satisfied grin. Was there something on my face? Was my shirt inside out? Was taking my hat off earlier a bad move and now my hair’s all messed up? Exactly two minutes later my phone buzzes with an e-mail from Sierra Shafer, editor-in-chief of Powder Magazine. What did she want with me?

For as long as I had known Eric and George they have been getting invited on some of the coolest ski trips you could possibly imagine, to every corner of the globe. Without a doubt though, the one that we all heard about most, for the other 51 weeks of the year, every year, was Powder Week, the ski test hosted by Powder Magazine. I opened the e-mail on my phone, Eric and George suddenly appearing over my shoulder to see Sierra’s e-mail with the subject line reading “POWDER WEEK 2020…” and that’s when my heart fell through the floor. Magazine testing had always seemed way out of my reality, it was a cool thing to dream about, but not something that could ever happen to me, not four weeks from now. My head was spinning, Sierra must have made a mistake and sent the e-mail to me by accident, instead of Eric and George. Either that or I was getting punk’d, there was no way this was legit. It was. 

There was an initial week or two of sheer hype after I found out, but then the nerves kicked in. Eric and George were passing the Powder Week torch to me and I was flying on a solo mission to British Columbia to ski with some of the best skiers in the world. If that wasn’t enough, I’d be getting face time with ski manufacturers and ski engineers who wanted feedback on their newest designs. How was I supposed to handle that? What was going to happen when I skied with Griffin Post and it was clear to everyone that I couldn’t keep up? Or when I would meet up with Hoji and probably just forget how to talk? I questioned E&G’s decision to send me, were they sure they wanted some kid to represent them at the most elite gathering in the ski world?

The night before my flight it was getting to me and everyone could tell. The boys at the shop could read me like a book and were telling me how great it was going to be, while at the same time dropping some shade that they knew would make my nervousness increase. That night I didn’t sleep for more than 45 minutes; I was juiced, nervous, and still in disbelief. I must have unpacked and re-packed my bag three times. Eventually I made it to Logan for my early morning connecting flight to MSP - so far so good - but when the plane touched down in Spokane, Washington with a jolt my mind snapped back to reality, this was going down…no backing out now. 

NEXT STOP -> RED MOUNTAIN

On the shuttle from the airport, I got acquainted with David Zorko from Newschoolers, and the two of us spent the three hour shuttle ride across the border listening to our driver talk about his Ayahuasca experiences down in the sacred valleys of Peru. Needless to say, the drive flew by. The base of Red Mountain is where you’ll find The Josie, a beautiful hotel that turned into our HQ for the week. As soon as we arrived, everyone from Powder was there to greet us with stoke and swag bags to make sure we were in the right place. Maybe it was just my excitement and the good vibes in the air, but somehow once you cross that border into the Great White North, everything changes. Snow covers the whole landscape, the trees are larger than life, the mountains are daunting, and everyone is just generally stoked on life. Those Canadian vibes just hit different. 

Approaching Red Mountain in Interior BC 

That night, there was a welcoming party at Rafters, the local’s bar located right next to the iconic Red Chair (The oldest operating double ski chair in North America). To my knowledge, I was one of only two members of the Powder Union calling the East Coast home, and addition to my lack of home-field advantage here in the Canadian Rockies it seemed like everyone at Rafters knew everyone. Most of the folks were already engaged in deep conversations with their favorite brands, so I did what everyone should do in a new situation, and grabbed and empty barstool next to the dude rocking a mean ‘stache and the sickest pair of Pit Vipers I’ve ever seen. This dude had style, and you could tell even inside a bar that this guy could flat-out SKI. Shoutout to Spencer Harkins for being a real one, and one of my first homies at Powder Week. A few IPAs and one of the best burgers I’ve had in a minute, I found myself at a table surrounded by Powder staff and skiers having a blast. It was only the first night and I felt like I had already made friends for life. 

DAY 1 - JUST DROPPING IN

It doesn’t matter where I am or who I am with, I always get jitters when skiing a new mountain (shoutout to my boy Uncle Neil). The terrain is foreign and the elevation can be unforgiving, but riding a high from the night before, I was absolutely stoked to see what Red had to offer. I made my way over to the ski tent, flashed my union lanyard to get in like a VIP, and then it really hit me… this was it. I walked in to Champion by Kanye blasting through the whole tent. Every ski brand you can think of had their gear setup around the perimeter, waiting for you to pick your weapon of choice. It was a party. The vibes were unlike anything I’ve ever experienced before. Everyone was smiling, and it didn’t matter who you were or where you came from, every single soul in that tent was riding the same wave. We were all there for the same reason - for our love of skiing.

The very first day, I get paired up with pro skier Griffin Post and our brand is Kastle. Yea, I know, this is not exactly easing into it. It’s a bluebird day on the Motherlode Chair up to Granite Peak when suddenly the sky burst open with that beautiful white stuff that makes this whole crazy industry exist. No one had expected snow, it was a complete surprise directly from the man upstairs to give us some fresh pow to play around in for the rest of the week.

You Sure this is Real Life?

So here I am, top of Granite Peak standing next to Griffin, fresh pow covering our little corner of the Canadian Rockies. The preceding hours, days, and years that led me here have been one surprise after another and in the second before I tell myself to wake up, because this can’t possibly be anything but a dream, Griffin sends it straight down underneath the chair and I have no choice but to follow him. 

It’s a Hollywood Lap, in full view of everyone heading up the chair. I hadn’t skied deep snow in almost a year, and this was only my 5th day skiing of the season. Did I make a fool of myself? You bet. Was I having the absolute time of my life on the first run of the week? HELL YEAH BROTHER. That afternoon was some of the best skiing of my life, as Griffin and I covered the entirety of the freshly-covered mountain, from Red Chair to Paradise to Grey Peak. It. Was. EPIC. Thank you, Griffin. 

I also spent the first day skiing with my homies Hank and Daniel, I’d only met them the night before but they were both full of stoke and would become two of my closest friends at Powder Week by the time it was all over. The three of us cleaned up all of the fresh tracks from that morning's dump, which I didn't know at the time, but would be the best snow conditions of the entire week. Luckily, I got to spend it with the best group imaginable, and after just a few hours of skiing with those dudes, I could tell this was just the beginning of a newfound brotherhood that would last a lifetime. 

Me and the homie, Daniel. Truly one of the MVPs of Powder Week

After a full day of shredding we we were assigned our Daily Dump groups. This was where we sat down to dissect every ski we were on that day, what we liked about them, what we didn’t like as much. I was lucky with my dump group, which was full of already-familiar faces. Sierra was our fearless leader, and then there was my roommate Jeff (future ASSFART King), my fellow east coaster Dylan, myself, and Spencer - the facial hair and fashion icon from the night before. Our daily dumps were the most important meetings of the entire week. This was the reason we were all here, to make sure every brand received authentic reviews of their new products from skiers who spent time on the equipment and dedicated their lives to the sport. This was the reasoning behind Powder Week’s existence. 

The skis from Faction I tested included the Prodigy 4.0 185cm, Dictator 2.0 187cm and the Agent 3.0 180cm. From Kastle, I skied the FX 106 HP 184cm, ZX 108 184cm, and the FX 116 185cm.

Nightly Homework Sessions

DAY 2 - PARADISE

Hungover from the night before, but with adrenaline pumping through me to keep me as fresh as ever, I set out for day 2. The sun’s out, there’s plenty of fresh tracks still to be found, and I’m paired up with Tristan and Bird from one of the most exciting up-and-coming brands in skiing, Black Crows.  I didn’t think my first day could be bested, damn did those two know how to have a good time, and better yet they absolutely ripped. (Notice a theme here?) The powder fields off of Paradise were calling our names, and I was ready. One of the best things about skiing is the memories you make on the hill. Those moments you share on the mountain, whether its blasting through trees in knee-deep powder or railing an edge on fresh corduroy, they, and the people you get to experience with, live with you forever. After a few runs with Tristan and Bird, they already felt like homies I’ve known for for a lifetime. 

Chairlift selfie with Bird. Tristan staying focused on the upcoming terrain. 

We sat in the locals section of the bar for our après burgers and beers back at Rafters, and found ourselves chatting with some of the locals to discover the hidden secrets that Red had to offer. Every single person we met at Red was beyond welcoming, and I’ll forever be grateful for the generosity of those lucky enough to call Rossland and Red Mountain their home. They opened up their mountain to the raddest group of weirdos the world has ever seen, and too that I say thank you from the bottom of my heart.  

That night I started to get the itch to discover some of Rossland’s off-mountain bars and spots, but I didn’t have a crew of my own or a way to get downtown. After my shower, I decided to head down to the common space in the hotel to see what sort of trouble people were trying to get into. Luckily, the homie Dane was trying to get some dinner somewhere in town too, and he made sure I was a part of the crew to go check out the local scenery. That night Dane, Tommy, Rowan, John, David, and I checked the Rock Cut Pub for an authentic BC pub experience.

I don’t know why, but I had this preconceived idea going into the trip that everyone would be closed off into their own clique and I would just be “the new kid.” Luckily, that couldn’t be farther from the truth; every person in this crew was on the same page, and every single one was welcoming, fun, and willing to give this kid from Boston a shot. 

Day 2 ski testing included: Black Crows Anima 115 189cm, Black Crows Justis 100 183cm, Rossignol Black Ops Sender TI 106 187cm, Rossignol Holyshred 98 192cm, and Rossignol Gamer 118 184cm. 

Wrapping up Day 2, Heading Straight for Beers. Rossland looking pretty in the background.

DAY 3 - A.S.S.F.A.R.T. 

ASSFART. If you know, you know. If you don’t…you are missing out my friend. ASSFART day is something I want every skier to experience. It's tough to put this day into words because I don’t think there is any way for me to give it justice.

All Ski Something Fast And Rad Together. 

This is the underlying theme that ties the entire week together, it’s straight up magical. It’s a vibe that anyone can be a part of, as long as you can just let loose, but keep it tight… you know tight loose. George and Eric tried to prep me for this day, but it’s just something that everyone needs to experience for themselves. Costumes aren’t just encouraged, they are high-key mandatory. Of course, I was the dingus who thought he was too cool for a costume back in Boston, so I didn’t pack one. Luckily, the ASSFART Queen herself, Clare, stepped up and brought me a box filled to the brim with the best outfits this world has ever seen. She hooked it up, and made sure I was looking my absolute best.

Photo Cred: David Zorko, Outfit Cred: Clare Menzel, Pit Viper Cred: Spencer Harkins 

The entire day revolves around skiing as many runs, on as many skis, with as many people as you can (All Ski Something Fast and Rad Together). It was a warm bluebird day, and with the close proximity of the Red Chair to the the tent, I cranked out 20+ runs on 14 different skis, and got to ski with nearly everyone there. It'd be a lot to list every ski from that day, but here are some highlights: Armada Declivity 102 Ti, Armada Whitewalker, Armada Declivity X, Atomic Bent Chetler 120, Blizzard Bonafide 97, Dynastar M-Free 108 and the K2 Reckoner 112

As the day was coming to an end, everyone gathered at the top of the chair. A group of over 60 costumed people with their poles in the air cheering as you made your way to the top. As soon as everyone made it up, we all took our positions to help construct the most epic human slalom this planet has ever seen. We covered the entire trail, from the top of the Red Chair all the way to the tent. Everyone was cheering, and it didn’t matter where you were from, how old you were, or even how good of a skier you were, everyone on the hill that day was laughing and content with life. This is what it meant to be a part of Powder Week.

Human Slalom Course - Not IOC Certified

As soon as the lift stopped spinning, everyone made their way to the hotel for a serious tournament of Gelande Quaffing. What the hell is that? Well, I’m glad you asked, because the world needs to know. Gelande Quaffing has been the national pastime of skiers since the ‘80s, when the Jackson Hole Air Force brought this beautiful game into existence. Essentially you throw beer, catch beer, drink beer and repeat, all in that order. It’s a difficult skill that the most elite athletes can master, but the game welcomes anyone who is deemed worthy enough. My squad made it to the 2nd round, a feat only few can accomplish. 

As if this day couldn’t get any cooler, we all mobbed back to the bar at the Josie to continue the party. In a room full of influential people, I had the privilege to sit down next to one of the coolest guys in the entire industry, Hans Smith. As you may know, Hans is the mastermind behind the inception of Armada skis, along with a few of my childhood idols Tanner Hall and J.P. Auclair. He was the real deal, one hell of a skier and an even nicer guy. I had a few drinks and dinner with one of the most original and influential people in the world of skiing, and he’s an absolute homie. The boys back home would never believe this…

DAY 4 - THE PARTY CAN’T GO ON FOREVER…CAN IT?

My legs were cooked. I’d skied three straight days bell to bell, partied my face off each night, but you bet your a** I wasn’t going to let that stop me from crushing my last day at Red. I spent the morning skiing with MJ from Elan, easily one of the coolest people in the ski industry. Yea everyone at Powder, every single person is cool as hell and there for a reason. We teamed up with Rossland native and local ski patroller Christie (also on the powder union), who opened up an entire new world of terrain we didn’t even know existed over in the cat skiing area on Mt. Kirkup. I felt like I could ski Red every day for years and still come across new lines and new terrain. (Christie confirmed this to be true). That day, I tested the Elan Ripstick 116 193cm, Ripstick 106 188cm and the Ripstick 96 188cm. 

MJ leading the charge off Slides Traverse

My last few hours at Red were on Salomons and with the man himself, Joe Johnson. We lapped the Motherlode and Red chairs, my home turf at this point, until closing bell in perfect soft spring conditions. Of all the great skis of the whole trip, it was the last ski of the week, the Salomon Stance 102, that stood out to me as the #1 ski of Powder Week. Maybe Joe, who’s the marketing manager at Salomon, got in my head, but this ski checked every box for me and was my pick for top ski. Salomon, if you’re reading this, be sure to send a pair out to Boston so I can confirm with more “product testing.”

Last Ski, Best Ski - The Salomon Stance 102 (Photo Cred: Joe Johnson)

We wrapped up an epic week with one final closing party at one of the bars down in Rossland. We all rolled up on a decked out school bus blasting music ready to make to make scene for our last night in this special place (respectfully of course). Some food and a few pitchers later, I made my way over to the bar to introduce myself to one last childhood icon I hadn’t gotten to meet yet, Jason Levinthal. As a fellow Albany, NY native, Jason had a cult following back in the 518. Jason has influenced my skiing style for years, and as the founder of Line Skis revolutionized the ski industry in ways we’re still feeling. It was sick to talk to him in person, even if it was super brief. A super down to earth dude who’s a great guy and knows how to build a freaking ski. That last night with the Powder Week crew was one of the most memorable nights of my life, and I felt so humbled and honored that I got to be a part of this truly special community of incredible skiers and even better people, as long as I get the invite back next year I'll be there. 

The After Party

CLOSING TIME

I flew back to Logan the same way I came, shuttle to Spokane, Spokane to MSP, MSP to Boston. Maybe it was the 12 hour solo travel day or the fact that my mind and body were trying to recover from a full week of hard skiing, hard partying, thousands of feet of elevation change, and a couple different time zones, but I felt like I was a different person. Four years ago I had seen myself following a path that someone else had chosen for me, one that if you asked me why I was on, I wouldn’t have been able to give you a good answer. In that time I had met the coolest crew of “co-workers” that you could possibly imagine, and now gone on an amazing trip and met an awesome community of people with the same outlook on and values in life. The homeward flight hit midnight eastern time just under an hour before landing, and even though I was drifting in and out of sleep, for the first time I finally realized I wasn’t dreaming, this was all really happening. In less than eleven hours I’d be back at work on 60 Canal, selling skis, hanging with my best friends, and getting Eric coffees. I wouldn’t have it any other way. 

 
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