April 9, 2009
We surveyed the trail from the Bull Chair. Steepest at its top, with a couple of flat spots for resting, the trail was moguled all the way down. We traversed over in front of the Summit Chalet to the top of the slope. We looked down and chose a good line. A narrow sliver of sun still shown on the middle of this trail called Grizzly. The snow surface was hard to the left and hard to the right and with the waning sunlight, the narrow soft surface in the middle portion of the slope was quickly going to harden. We had to stay in the middle, in the warmth of the sun.
Breathing hard, I stopped part way down the moguled slope. My friend Mitch and I were skiing with Jim Vick, Director of Marketing, etc. at Lutsen Mountains, who knows just about everything there is to know about these here parts. Jim is a very accomplished recreational skier and ski racer. He is also a very busy guy. He wears many hats at Lutsen, but he found time to show us this moguled run. It had precisely spaced man-made moguls about two feet high top to bottom. Grizzly is ¾’s of a mile long, more than I expected to find in the mid-west. The name was appropriate.
Jim is a friendly sort, like most Minnesotans that we would come to call our friends over the span of our six-day stay. Tall with long graying hair, a permanent smile, he is the epitome of “happy-go-lucky”.
He had organized and coordinated an annual meeting of seventy snowsports journalists, representatives of other winter resorts and their guests from all over the United States. His work included arranging transportation, food, entertainment, professional development seminars and many side trips to different venues, the whole ball of wax.
His sole task this week was to show us that Northern Minnesota, on the beautiful shore of Lake Superior, was an exciting place to be, especially in winter.
Having attended several annual meetings of the North American Snowsports Journalists Association (NASJA), I can appreciate the amount of work it takes to keep fussy journalists entertained, challenged and busy. It’s a great deal of work. Jim had been working on this trip for almost two years.
I had skied with Jim at two other areas over the last two seasons, Tamarack Idaho and Bretton Woods New Hampshire. I knew he was a very good smooth skier and he was proud of his home area.
Guess he just has a very good life in this remote section of the North Country.
The sun was out and the temperature just warm enough to soften the bumps that faced the fading mid-afternoon sun. Jim had said if we wanted good bumps we had to experience them this day, not tomorrow or the day after that. The forecast was for colder weather and the evenly shaped and spaced moguls would be hard the next few days.
We took three runs on this black diamond run loving every minute. More perfect moguls could not be found anywhere, east nor west. With arms forward, never letting a shoulder get behind, facing downhill, keeping skis constantly in contact with the snow and our knees tight together, we tried our best to look like Jim pumping down the slope. It’s was a fine work out.
We were in the right place at the right time to fully enjoy these precision moguls.
Surprised that there is skiing in Minnesota? I was. I now know that winter is big in this land of 10,000 lakes. Lutsen Mountains actually contains four mountains, Ullr, Eagle, Mystery and Moose. All told there are 92 runs and 1,000 feet of vertical, with enough challenge and variety to appease any slider. This trip to the Upper Mid-West was a pleasant surprise for all of us.
Great skiing in Minnesota? You bet there is.
Thanks Jim, for showing us all that Lutsen and Northern Minnesota has to offer.
For more information on Lutsen go to http://www.lutsen.com