I witnessed some wonderful things this weekend, including my six and eight-year olds out-maneuvering me through double-black glades and sheer-pitch head-walls while I take up the rear. I swear, youth can’t be found in a pill or a bottle but by chasing single-digit kids through five gnarly peaks for two days. Glorious indeed.
But what I want to translate is this: We spent the weekend skiing with a friend Erich and his two boys 7 and 9. Erich is a long-time ski patroller at Sunday River and well-connected to the ski community there and the mountain. He was off-duty sharing his weekend with us, but responded immediately after we watched a woman crater into the snow before our eyes (later down on a sled). And then within 45 minutes he responded to a variety of collisions (stretcher) and crashes (again back-boarded on the sled) which kept him focused and engaged while the boys and I bombed the mountain. So in real time I was witnessing Erich doing his patrol thing and saving the world and all that.
Here’s what happened next: I’m solo with the boys while Erich saves the tourists, and Charlie, Will and Ian had skied on ahead and were entering the terrain park (don’t ask) when Owen and I watched a woman crash severely in front of us. Owen stopped abruptly, then HIKED UP BACK THE SLOPE to ask how she is doing, retrieve her gear strewn about the slope, and make sure she is OK. Owen is 7. I don’t even have time to compute what’s happened and Owen has responded.
On the next run, again it’s me with the boys and while shooting through a narrow section, Ian notices the red flags and poles that designate a hazard have fallen over and are no longer obvious. Ian stops and patiently replants the hazard poles and flags and carries on. It’s not a quick fix – it takes a few deliberate minutes. Ian is 9. I pause to admire this act with Ian, but keep in mind the posse was moving fast and the competition was high while his friends continued the race on to the bottom. Meanwhile Ian has stopped from the back of the pack, and committed this quiet gesture without any sense of heroism. It just needed to be done. Think about that.