The Power of Skiing

February 26, 2017

In an age when we are glued to screens, we are considered the generation of the internet. We swipe left or right to find a date, send a 10-second Snapchat video of our cat to our top three friends, and press the "like" button on the birth of our new niece. But not all relationships are formed and maintained through a keyboard.

Just ask Kari Roder. Kari met her husband working in Colorado in the ski industry. Though they grew up only 30 minutes away from one another in Michigan, it wasn't until they moved to Colorado and skied together every weekend that they began dating. Kari now works for Boyne Mountain's marketing department while her husband, Zak, works in lift maintenance at The Highlands at Harbor Springs. On the weekends, they spend time teaching their two sons to ski - the same hobby that brought Kari and Zak together. Kari and Zak are proof that no dating website can do what a chairlift can.

Or ask Kathy and Lea. Both Northern Michigan locals, Kathy and Lea skied on their high school's ski team and became fast friends - literally. They spent every weekend carving down the hill together and chatting all the way back up. When they parted ways to attend college, Kathy and Lea still spent every break on their old stomping grounds and even spent one spring break skiing out west. After college, when Lea followed her husband's job to Indiana and Kathy moved to Georgia to continue her education, it seemed like their days skiing together were up. But Kathy and Lea, now retired and moved back to Northern Michigan, spend weekdays together at Boyne Mountain. There's no app for friendship like that of Lea and Kathy.

Or ask me. After being shoved down the hill at age 2 by my father, I learned to ski around the time I learned to walk. Because my dad was a volunteer ski patroller, I spent every winter skiing for free at his side. He raced me down the hill then lifted me up to sit on the chairlift as it came around, then safely "buckled me in" using his ski poles across my lap. After the hill was closed, I'd sit and wait while my dad finished wrapping slings and icing knees of fallen skiers from the day. Years later, when I turned 15, it was my turn to take the ski patrol class. I've never seen my dad more proud of me than he was when I passed the class and began patrolling alongside him on the slopes. It was a pride that no "like" button could ever convey.

Skiing brings people together in a way that no gadget or app can. The relationships that form on chairlifts are the ones that last. Romance blooms, lasting friendships are made, and family grows on skis.