As the curtain goes down on a ski season that lasted 114 days, John Garcia has strapped on his skis for 93 of those days.
The 67 year old retired industrial controls electrician from Interlochen has put on plenty of slope mileage this winter. He’d like to have passed the 100-day mark, but a late start to the season (we opened our slopes on Dec. 14th), plus a few rainy days scotched that attempt. “I don’t ski when it’s raining,” he said.
By his own admission, John doesn’t like to ski powder much, although Crystal’s had a plethora of powder days this season. Each month featured at least one day of powderhound heaven with dumps of 10 inches or more, while an epic 18 inches fell between Mar. 19-21. “Those days gave me plenty of chances to practice powder skiing, but it’s not my favorite,” he grinned. “I love it best when it’s freshly groomed”. John’s not a big fan of moguls or jumps, either. “I only ski Wipe Out at the first of the season, before the moguls are formed,. “I don’t like the moguls or do jumps, he said. “It’s not a good idea for my skis to leave the snow.” John’s a big believer in helmets – in all his years of skiing, he’s only had one accident. “I went too fast off a run and hit a tree.”
So what draws him to our midwestern mountain day after day? “ I like the thrill of it- the wind blowing in my face, and the face that it’s all up to me. To me, it’s the same feeling as riding a motorcycle” (which he used to do, but doesn’t ride anymore). The beauty of skiing, he points out, is that you can do it by yourself and set your own pace, yet there’s still a big social factor. “I always talk with people while riding up the lifts,” he noted. “I’ve met people from all over the world who are taking a ski vacation here. And they all say the same thing: Crystal Mountain is a well-run place with good grooming”.
John’s part of a burgeoning crowd of skiing regulars ranging in age from somewhere over 50 to the mid-80s (and who all aspire to be like Lou Batori, our 102 year old season passholder who was on the slopes several times this season. Every skier wants to be like Lou). These are active elders who, like John, revel in the outdoors and stirve to remain fit in every season. When he puts his skis away today, John will be tuning up his mountain bike and getting ready to put on the 2000 miles he cycles annually.
But what a ski season it’s been. See you next year, John – and everyone else who embraced the thrill and chill of the hill this winter.