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Originally published: 2013-01-22 16:53:50
Last modified: 2013-01-22 16:53:50

Never too late to ski

Justin Grimes / (

The Last Run Lounge was packed and old-age jokes flowed amid an atmosphere of pride and mutual respect; coupled with fun, lots of fun.

The stage was set on Tuesday, Jan. 8, as Wendy Snider, director of group sales at Sugar Mountain Resort and emcee of a septuagenarian celebration, attempted to stump mature skiers with obscure questions dating back to the early days of skiing. Answers came quickly; proving that wisdom wins every time.

For 21 years, Sugar Mountain has thrown a party saluting the continued on-snow prowess of skiers 70 years-old and up. Each season, the mountain provides the elders with free season passes for a $10 administration fee – a $720 value.

Most participants raised their hands when Snider asked, “How many of you have been skiing at Sugar for more than 10 years?”

“I was here when Sugar Mountain opened in 1969,” said Carol McCall of Tryon. After the celebration, McCall shared intimate details of her first skiing experience. “I turned down a date with my future husband and joined the Durham/Chapel Hill Ski Club for the trip to Sugar Mountain. It was a package deal; $14 for a lift ticket, a ski lesson and rentals. It was very cold. I remember very short skis; I was 29.”

Soon after her inaugural trip, McCall and her husband of 42 years, Mark, said that they courted on the yellow lift. “We’ve never lost our enthusiasm for skiing.” He added that now they have three generations of skiers in their family enjoying Sugar Mountain. 

Not all the septuagenarian and octogenarian skiers at the celebration are old-timers to the sport. “I just started two years ago,” said David Hooper, 71, and a town council member of Seven Devils.
 “I’m still on the green slopes.”

During the presentation, Snider introduced Len Bauer, Sugar’s ski school director. He welcomed the group acknowledging his many acquaintances and said, “We are here for you.”

Snider also introduced Sugar Mountain’s Ski School Instructor Andre Herscovici, 79, a native of France who has more than 30 years of teaching experience. 

A discussion of continued training specifically targeted to the senior group ensued and an email list of participants interested in participating in future weekly clinics was circulated; interest was high in the special clinics as many members sought out Herscovici and Snider at the conclusion of the party.

A tall man of 85 years with big sparkling eyes and possessing a firm handshake garnered the award for being the eldest at the celebration. William Langstaff, 85, of Kingsport, Tenn. reminisced about his first skiing experience in 1946. “I was in the army and the idea of sliding down a hill intrigued me. So dressed in my army outfit, I traveled to close by Kings Mountain, N.Y., and started sliding. When I moved to Kingsport to work for Eastman Kodak, I started skiing here at Sugar and I’ve loved it.”

Everyone enjoyed cake and ice cream and Snider concluded her remarks by saying, “You are the greatest generation of skiers.”

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