Susan de Hoog How about, ‘the ski trip with the girl friends…’
From the time I was a little girl, I had a love affair with skiing. I’m sure it started with the Olympics, since skiing wasn’t a “thing” in our family. Living in Montana, I had friends in school who went two hours away to Red Lodge with their families, but I wasn’t part of that crowd. The Jacobsen’s, the Svaren’s, Torske’s, Lundberg’s were the families that regularly went skiing. There was a theme there—Scandinavians to the core.
My brother, Tom, who was ten years my senior, took up skiing, and he acquiesced to my clamoring to tag along with him. I was in the fourth grade the first time I went with Tom. The lift ticket was $5 (equivalent to $40 in today’s dollars), and he enrolled me in a lesson. We had to rent equipment, too. I was a pretty athletic kid, but all I remember from the lesson was that I was the biggest kid among all these little kids learning to ski.
My passion never died, and about once a year I would get to go with my brother, and then later with the Imer family, and then later still I would drive myself to Red Lodge. I never owned equipment, so I would borrow my brother’s. It was a pricey sport for a high school kid with no job.
In college I skied Tahoe Basin with a college buddy, and Park City with the same guy. After moving to Iowa I escaped the prairies one winter and hit upstate New York with another college guy. We flew into Montreal and skied Lake Placid and Stowe.
When my work took me to Colorado, I thought I died and went to heaven. I hit Vail, Breckenridge, Keystone, A Basin, Winter Park, Copper Mountain before being transferred to Minneapolis.
But it wasn’t until I moved to Minneapolis, where the highest elevation appears to be the overpasses that I began to ski in earnest. A 700 vertical feet ski area was within four miles of my home in metro Minneapolis. I began working there first as a ski patroller, then as a ski instructor. I skied almost every weekend during the season, and a day or two during the week. I’ve taught there just over 20 years.
In 2006 about six of us women instructors went to Vail for a clinic to improve our skills—but it was really a girls’ weekend skiing out West. We called ourselves the Go Girls. We said we would go every year, but life got in the way. We raised our kids together, commiserated over wine at Happy Hours, taught hundreds of lessons together. We became each other’s support group for issues far beyond skiing. Later I veered off and began to snowboard. Ten years later, I retreated back to skiing.
Skiing has been the glue that’s held some of us together. Every year our family went to Red Lodge, Bridger Bowl or Big Sky on Christmas holiday break. We’d invite cousins, in-laws and friends. When my kids were old enough, each one taught at our little ski hill in Minnesota, each one became proficient skiers and teachers.
I have become an equipment junkie. I love the gear, the skis, boards, bindings, poles, helmets, powder pants, jackets, thermals. I lean towards the funky snowboarder oversized everything. I like the heavy socks, gaiters and my signature three fingered gloves. I haul the gear around in a rolling duffle bag, there’s so much. I can’t get enough of it.
Now that I am old, I still have a passion for skiing. Remnants of the Go Girls still exist, and we still hang together—a few of them have continued the girls’ weekends, though I have not. Sometimes I’m the only girl with the boys. A couple of years ago, a niece’s daughter, ten years old and I were the two girls on the mountain with my sons and their cousins. It’s still so fun, so beautiful on the mountain, filled with wonderful memories of times past and the anticipation of times to come.