Thursday, February 18, 2010

Downhill Skiing

Me at Wild Mountain in Taylor Falls, MN, 1988.

For years, my Father and I, along with my Fathers cousin (who was similar in age to my father) and his son (who is similar in age to myself) would get together and go skiing. Good times.
I cannot remember at what age I first took ski lessons, but I'm going to estimate the prime-time ski frame being from the early/mid eighties to about 1992.

I was never entirely confident in my skiing ability, and never mastered parallel turns. Oh and all you hot-doggers and snowboarders out there can kiss my ass.

The following is a list of all the ski hills I've been to.
History and interesting random Youtube videos included where available.

While living in Milwaukee;
Little Switzerland (Slinger, WI) 1941-Present
Where I learned how to ski.
Front side.

Went on "Big Deal" run first time January 18, 1987
Back side.

Sunburst (Kewaskum, WI) 1961-1971 as Wunderburg, 1971-Present as Sunburst
Went first time January 31, 1987
The land that is now Sunburst Ski Area was originally a hill farmed by the Becker family. In 1961 two Milwaukee area families, the Casey's and the Christiansen's, who had been looking for a ski able hill near Milwaukee for their families bought the land from the Becker's. Together the two families cleared the hill for a main run and a beginner's run, installed two lifts, a 1,200 foot T-bar imported from Germany and a rope tow and "Wunderburg" was born. Soon the two families found out just how much work a ski hill actually was and in 1971 sold it to a group of investors from Milwaukee including Mr. Bob Niss who owned the Blizzard traveling ski club. This group renamed the area "Sunburst". They built a ticket office, rental building and added another rope tow and chairlift. Sunburst was a popular place for ski groups under the direction of the owner/manager, Herb Smith.
In 1984 Jim and Kim Engel bought the area and over the past twenty-five years have remodeled every building on the property including the chalet and ticket office. They also built a new rental building, increased the number of rental skis and added snowboards. In addition they built two maintenance buildings and purchased four state of the art grooming machines.
On the hill they have added two more chairlifts, two rope tows and lights on every run. An expert hill and three terrain parks were added to add fun and excitement for experts. In 1997 they added a snow tubing operation. They built a tubing chalet and developed a tubing hill with 20 lanes;12 straight chutes and 8 luge chutes.
Snowmaking is the name of the business in Wisconsin. Sunburst has 100% coverage for its snowmaking system with underground pipes and wiring to make it state of the art. Sunburst has been one of the first area in Wisconsin to open every one of the last 12 years. The earliest opening date was November 3, 2006 and the latest closing was March 21, 1998.

While living in Minneapolis;
Afton Alps (Hastings, MN) 1963-Present
Afton Alps was cool because it was like 3 ski mountains in one, with a separate chalet at the bottom of each.
*I'm not entirely sure if the following occurred at Afton Alps or Wild Mountain. If it was infact Afton Alps (which I believe it was), the scenario is as follows;
One time I came speeding out of Christina's Trail where it merges into Heidi's Playground (both at the far right of the trail map) and there was this idiot off to the side standing sideways talking to somebody. He then unexpectedly pushed himself backwards directly into my path (without looking mind you). I ran into him full speed and it knocked me onto my back and off my ski's, knocking the wind out of me, my binding's now busted sending my ski's down the hill without me. Turns out the guy was a ski ski instructor/ski patrol, and angrily told me that he could have revoked my lift ticket (but didn't). I still think it's his fault for backing up without looking.
That pretty much dampened my enthusiasm towards skiing for a while. Make no mistake about it, whether you're trying to avoid inanimate stationary objects (like trees, ice patches, moguls, ditches etc.) or animate objects which are in motion (like other skiers), skiing can be dangerous!

Badlands (Hudson, WI) 1970-Present
Badlands Recreation was opened in 1970 by Peggy and Bernard Kinney and their 11 children. The idea for Badlands sprang from the desire to offer affordable winter fun the whole family could enjoy. Sno-tubing had already been around for a few years and after seeing how much fun it was, the Kinney's knew it was just what they were looking for. After visiting other tubing areas and working with the state of Wisconsin what emerged was Badlands.
The land just east of Hudson is known as the Hudson prairie, a bit further east the terrain changes into a hilly area known as "the badlands." Our original tubing chalet was the farm house where Bernard's father was born in 1888. Changes to Badlands have been made over the years as sno-tubing has become more popular. Two of the children now manage the operation and have added a snowboard park, snow making and improved grooming ability, a new chalet and even changed the name to Badlands Sno-Park. Badlands continues to evolve, but still strives to offer winter fun the whole family can enjoy! In fact, you may see some of the 4th generation of Kinney kids out on the slopes, or having a cup of hot chocolate in the chalet.

Buck Hill (Burnsville, MN) 1961-Present
Ten thousand years ago, the last ice age receded from the northern half of the North American continent. The Minnesota River helped drain the glacier and just south of the river, a terminal moraine was formed which the local Indians later named Buck Hill.
In 1954 Charles Stone Jr. and his future wife Nancy Campbell obtained a lease from the landowner Grace Whittier of Northfield, Minnesota. Miss Whittier’s father had brought the land for the price of the unpaid back taxes. Many people had skied on the undeveloped hill in the past, including two Minnesota Governors. In the 1930’s Fred Pabst, founder of Bromley Ski Area in Vermont, started a ski area on this site, but the drought years with a lack of snow caused him to abandon the plan.
During the years from 1954 until 1961, Buck Hill was only open a few weekends due to very meager snowfalls. In 1961 the Stones added snowmaking and a T-Bar. This put a whole new perspective on the business and the area was able to operate for at least four months in the winter. In the following years, more lifts and trails were added, as well as a new chalet and rental shop, and the Sports Bucket Restaurant was added in 1978. In 2006, Buck Hill installed a new Quad chairlift at the south end of the ski area, and brought in over 100,000 yards of fill to raise the elevation of the top of the new chairlift.
Today, Buck Hill offers 15 different runs to skiers and snowboarders of all abilities, as well as snow tubing. Buck has 11 lifts including 2 Quads and a Triple chairlift. Buck also has one of the best snowmaking systems in the Midwest, enabling the area to operate even when Old Man Winter doesn’t cooperate.
Buck Hill is still operated with the family in mind, offering a full range of skiing programs for the young and the young-at-heart. Buck’s reputation as a quality ski area is known across the country. Our ski racing program is also nationally acclaimed. Ski magazines calls Buck the “Legendary Capitol of American ski racing.” In 2006, Erich Sailer, long-time coach of the Buck Hill Ski Racing Team, was inducted into the US National Ski Hall of Fame.

Hyland Ski (Bloomington, MN) 1964-Present
The Park District acquired what was then called Mt. Normandale Ski Area in 1959 as part of Hyland Lake Park Reserve and began operating the ski area in 1964. We have a file in our records that includes a document written by Gorden Bowen in 1964 in which he described himself as constructing the ski area. Mr. Bowen stated that the ski area was constructed in 1952.

Powder Ridge (Kimball, MN) 1958-Present
*I'm not positive that I've been to Powder Ridge.

Spirit Mountain (Duluth, MN) 1973-Present

Trollhaugen (Dresser, WI) 1950-Present

Welch Village (Welch, MN) 1965-Present

Wild Mountain (Taylors Falls, MN) 19?? - 1972 as Val Croix, 1972-Present as Wild Mountain
Wild Mountain was purchased by Dennis & Cam Raedeke in 1972. Prior to that it was a small ski area named Val Croix.

While living in Madison area;
Cascade (Portage, WI) 1962-Present
My last time skiing (in early 2000), and first time skiing all by my lonesome.

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