It’s never too old to learn to ski! At 75, Mom proved it this past Thursday at Hunter Mountain.

Under a dome of gusty blue skies, professional ski instructor Sharon taught a group of novices how to master the basics and stay safe.  Knowing that the teacher was only a few months shy of Mom’s age made her feel at ease, more confident.

Full disclosure: Mom likes to cross-country but vowed never to downhill again after suffering a knee injury caused by a fall at Stratton Mountain. Even though the incident happened 20 years ago, returning to try it again, after failing the first time, wasn’t easy.

“Smiles makes things work better, too!” assured Sharon, as Mom practiced wearing one fiberglass slab strapped to her right foot.

Prior to the lesson, Mom was fitted for boots that were a bit wider to accommodate her, how to do I put this, more ‘generous’ calves.

“Skiing is a bit of a production,” admitted the staff, who weighed her down with a helmet and poles.

When I knew Mom was in good hands on the bunny slopes, I took to exploring 5 new trails – four intermediate and one beginner – and reloading onto the resort’s new high-speed six-passenger chairlift called the Northern Express.

In under three-and-a-half minutes, I was whisked to the top of Hunter North, euphoric to rip down a five-foot base of man-made snow. The natural stuff would come soon enough. The beauty of midweek skiing was that I had the place all to myself.

“It took us eight months… and many millions to expand our terrain,” said Communications Manager Dan Kenney, as he proceeded to show us a timelapse video he recorded of the progress.

Hunter first opened in 1960 when Orville and Israel Slutzky reshaped a stony mountainside in the Catskills into one of the first ski resorts in the East. The brothers are credited with securing the industry’s first snow-making system. The ski bowl is now under corporate control.

Years ago, when I worked for WRGB-TV6, I met Orville while skiing with meteorologist, Kelly Boland.  Orville enjoyed Kelly’s weather reports on the local CBS news channel so much he’d invite her family for a day of complimentary skiing. 

After a day of fun, we’d join Orville in his famously cluttered office space, filled with video surveillance screens and two-way radios, and thank him for his generosity.

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