I began learning how to ski at the ripe young age of four. Every generation in my family skis, and it was so fun growing up and getting out on the mountain with them all. Some of my fondest memories are of the trips I used to take with my grandfather, or Papou, as he was known in Greek.
Papou brought the love of skiing to our family. He was getting on the mountain any chance he could and was a part of a heli-skiing club that called themselves the Powder Pigs. His technique was unmatched; his skis perfectly together turn for turn. I learned at ski school at first, but I spent most of my time learning how to turn in “Papou School.” If there was a storm on the way, he would have my mom call me out of school so we could drive to Northstar and spend the day skiing together. We made it a tradition to stay at the Rainbow Lodge off Highway 80, where we would fish for dinner.
The Northstar that we skied back then was nowhere near the grandiose resort that it is today. Before Vail Resorts purchased the ski area and well before the Ritz Carlton was built at mid-mountain. The village was just a basic mountain base with a cafeteria, lockers, and rentals. But none of that mattered to us; we were there for the mountain. We kept coming back to the mountain because of runs like Burnout, Tonini’s, and Sodergren’s and even had some fun in the terrain parks. The old Northstar felt like home, and we knew that mountain better than most.
Papou skied well into his 80s before passing away in 2013. Though he slowed down a bit, he still made it out for a run or two to get his fix. I hope that I’ll still be getting my share of lines in as I age. Either way, I’ll always think of Papou and the memories we made skiing together.
What are some of your fondest skiing memories? Is there someone in particular that you owe your love of skiing to? Share your stories in the comments and let us know.