Sure, it's easy to have that 100 day season. All you need to do is quit your job, leave your family, and move out to Jackson to be a ski bum. It's a short term solution - but you could do it, and I'm sure that would make for a great blog post. But today we're launching a series today about real people and how they manage to get their 20 days a year in, without sacrificing other parts of life. These people come from all different walks of life. In fact, they might only cross paths on the slopes. First up, Betsy Pantazelos - the retail district manager for Patagonia in New York and Connecticut!
First off, where are you from, what do you do, and how did you get into skiing?
I grew up in Framingham, Massachusetts (with a significant portion of my upbringing also taking place throughout New Hampshire). I am the Retail District Manager for New York & Connecticut for Patagonia. I started skiing when I was two, because my older brother (who was 6 at the time) was learning, and I had no interest in sitting out on anything that he was doing!
Tell us your life story as seen through skiing (skip all that boring stuff that doesn't involve playing in the snow).
After learning to ski at Loon Mountain, my family ended up becoming Winter Weekend Warriors--a classic tale. I joined the Loon Racing Team around the age of 6. Around the same time, I had the pleasure of watching the ProAm (panel slalom with Pro bumps!) and meeting the Mahre twins, Bernard Knauss, and many other ski celebs). I pursued racing through high school (at Holderness in New Hampshire) and in college at Boston University. Along the way, I spent some summer weeks in Government Camp, Oregon training at Mt. Hood (my first time out west, and as you likely know, that glacial snow is a tragic representation of what west coast skiing can be!). By the time I made it to Boston University, I was racing more casually (in a club atmosphere), and started volunteering for the USCSA Board of Directors (one of the governing bodies for collegiate ski and snowboard racing). This was also around the same time where my interest shifted toward chasing powder, tree lines, and backcountry touring sometime thereafter. A friend moved to Steamboat, Colorado around that time, and one taste of that champagne powder and I've been hooked ever since. I started working for Patagonia in 2007, and my zeal for this side of skiing only grew! These days, I still enjoy racing (volunteered on the Race Crew at the Women's World Cup in Killington in 2016), but a skin up Mt. Washington, or a few days at Squaw or Mammoth really refuel my soul.
How many days were you able to ski last year? Are you on track for even more this year?
23 days last year, and I am hoping to at least match that number this year. Last year was a mixture of weekends to New Hampshire for Mt. Washington skins, Wildcat laps, and Loon groomers. I also managed several day trips to Hunter Mountain--a welcome escape from the city that requires limited effort. The remainder of my days were spent at Mt. Rose and Squaw Valley as well as Mammoth and one day at Taos. I even managed a day on snow in Scotland (was there for a wedding, so what was the harm in packing my boots, and exploring the Highlands for a day--actually better then I had imagined!)
Ski days are precious out East. What do you do in the off-season to make the most of the time you get on the mountain?
I bike commute, run, and do yoga, to ensure that I'm ready for when the snow flies!
Tell us about the most epic ski day of your life.
A few winters ago, I booked a last minute flight to Chamonix (friends had a free room, and who was I to turn down such a generous offer?). After two days of white-out conditions (that actually prevented us from skiing, the visibility was THAT bad), the clouds cleared to bluebird and we took the tram up to the Vallee Blanche. At the top, after bootpacking with crampons to the beginning of the 12 mile powder run that descends nearly 10,000 vertical feet, I paused to take in the view of the alps, the valley below, and yelled at the top of my lungs "this is the best day of my life!" Follow that with french wine and fondu. Was it all a dream?
What do you like most about Parlor Skis?
I consider myself a native Bostonian and a proud east coast skier. I love that the founders of the company fully understand (and appreciate!) those roots. I had the rare pleasure of skinning up what-shall-remain-an-unnamed-resort with Mark Wallace. On the ascent, I got to discuss my ski needs ("Something that is light enough to tour with, stable enough to perform on hard pack for a former racer, nimble enough to navigate tight New England trees, and still fun on a west coast powder day.") I basically requested the holy grail of skis, and the Parlor gang were able to deliver on that request!
What advice can you offer people who are looking to hit that magical 20 days on snow?
I think the secret for me is two fold. Thing one is to make it a priority. Make some plans and put them in the calendar. If you've got adventures in the calendar, you'll make them happen! Having a friend who is equally hard-charging for the slopes helps with splitting driving time and resulting bar tabs. Otherwise, if you presently work somewhere that doesn't understand the importance of a powder day, you should probably quit that job and find some place that more fundamentally aligns with your personal ethics. Having a boss that gives you the thumbs up to seek life/work balance, or one that understands that days on snow is your definition of that balance, is a game changer.
Favorite Apres beverage?
Whisk(e)y, with or without the e. On the rocks or in a hot toddy. Fireside or from a flask.
There you have it! How to ski a 20 day season and keep living a "normal" life! Stay tuned as we continue this series. We've got some great people lined up, from big time CEOs to regular ski bums.
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