March 12, 2018
The 20 Day Season: Jeremy Crane's Life in Skiing
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. We've been running a series on people from all different walks of life. In fact, the only place they might cross paths is on the slopes - or at a Parlor shop night.
First we did one with Betsy Pantazelos, the retail district manager for Patagonia in New York and Connecticut. Then, we had John Hancock CEO Drew Arnott. Today we have Jeremy Crane, who built his own skis with us last summer. Meet Jeremy...
First off, where are you from, what do you do, and how did you get into skiing?
I grew up in NH in a ski racing family. My father worked for the US Ski Team for about 25 years and did a variety of work for FIS for most of that and a bunch more. I had two Aunts that were on the US ski team back in the 70's and 80's. One was ranked 7th in the world in Slalom at one point. In addition to that, anyone that grew up ski racing in NH in the 80's or 90's likely knew my grandmother (Emily Crane). She was the NHARA secretary for ages.
Tell us your life story as seen through skiing (skip all that boring stuff that doesn't involve playing in the snow).
Needless to say I started skiing pretty young. I don't even remember a time when I wasn't skiing. I think I was about 2 when my dad first slapped those red plastic strap on skis to my feet and pushed me around the backyard. I learned to ski at Pat's Peak where my dad was one of the original coaches at the ski academy that used to be there. I got into racing around 10 and trained with the BBTS crew at Waterville Valley. I was never really much more than a middle of the pack skier early on. I just wasn't that dedicated to training and didn't have the talent to do it without training. I did ok though and went to Junior Olympics a few times and skied a few Eastern Cups.
I went to college at Bates. One of the primary reasons I liked Bates was the ski program there. It was a D1 school that I at least had a shot of making the team on. Unlike UVM, Middlebury, Dartmouth or the other heavy hitters in East Coast NCAA skiing. College skiing was filled with highs and lows for me. I was placing top 15 pretty regularly in Slalom but for the life of me never really figured out how to ski GS. Those damn straight skis. For reference, I graduated college in 96 right when the first "shaped" skis were making their debut.
Early my Senior year I had a nasty crash at Sugarloaf at one of the first races of the season. I caught a tip going into a flush and cartwheeled. Didn't break anything but separated my Tibia and Fibula, tearing a bunch of stuff that's not supposed to tear. That pretty much ended ski racing that year, but that was actually the start of what I call my skiing rebirth.
Like a lot of my ski racing peers I was getting pretty burned out banging gates every day. That injury took about 2 months to heal and by the time January rolled around I was dying to get on skis for the first time in a long time, but I really wasn't dying to get in the gates. I started free skiing a lot and just going up to Sunday River and blasting around. That March, my room mate and another good friend and I went to Red Mountain BC for spring break. It was like having a religious experience. It basically hammered snow all day every day. We were getting free refills on a couple of days even. It was the first time I'd had skiing like that. I had been out west skiing a million times at that point but always managed to get skunked. This was the real deal, knee to waist deep powder every run. Glorious. I haven't missed a year without a ski trip out west since that trip to Red.
After college I coached a little bit, but really just wanted to be out skiing after that. Fast forward through a bunch of weird years where I got a bunch of skiing and close to no skiing other than my annual western pilgrimage. When the kiddos arrived on the scene that complicated things even more. As soon as my oldest was 2 we got her out on the boards though and I think I have successfully turned our family into a ski family. Despite my wife's desires. Last year was a big breakthrough year. The girls were 8 and 11 and the 8 year old was finally really able to ski. Prior to that it was a bit like pulling teeth. Last year I even had a few days where I had to drag her off the hill. Her older sister could pretty much ski anything as of last year. Even got her ripping Paradise at MRG. I just hope I can keep up with her for a few years.
How many days were you able to ski last year? Are you on track for even more this year?
I think I managed to squeeze in 25 days at Sugarbush, 4 days at Mad River Glen, 4 days at Alta and 1 Heli Day with Powder Birds.
How does the season usually unfold for you?
Ever since we started doing the VT house our typical program has been to snag 1 weekend in November. I don't love trying to navigate Downspout (Deathspout) with kids and a few hundred other people but its hard to resist getting up there. Better than not skiing! Also just a good excuse to be in VT. Maybe 2 weekends in December and then we start heading up pretty much every weekend in January. I usually can get ~10 days in by February. Mid to late February is the ski trip with the boys every year. We've hit Silverton 8 out of the last 10 years. Last year we did Utah for something a little more cushy and back when we all turned 40 we splurged and went to Kingfisher Heli in the Monashees. Every year I come back from the ski trip super fired up to ski more. In the spring I think I drive my wife nuts trying to squeeze in every day I can. Typically try to get up there right up until the second to last weekend the Bush is open. Sadly I haven't hit Tucks in ages. Every year I say I'm going to get back up there, but spring home life in Boston starts to take over.
Ski days are precious out East. What do you do in the offseason to make the most of the time you get on the mountain?
I bike a ton and waterski. There's only two things that compare to the feeling of skiing powder. Ripping down a single track on a mountain bike and arcing through a glassy lake on a slalom ski at sunrise.
Tell us about the most epic ski day of your life.
Man thats a tough one. I'm not sure I can come up with one. I'd have to go with 3 most epic with each in a different category.
- Most epic heli day: last year with Powder Birds. Snowed roughly 3 feet over 2 days and the bird was grounded for a week until our scheduled heli day. The clouds parted and we had cold, dry blue bird all day. Absolutely epic terrain and snow.
- Most epic storm day: Silverton in 2010 I think. It was our second year there. Pulled into the parking lot of the hotel the night before and the first flake landed on the windshield. It didn't stop snowing for 3 days. It was unreal. Silverton is a pretty special experience any day, but on a big storm day things go to another level. The guides are usually pretty professional on a typical day spend time working to make sure the clients get theirs. On a big powder day the guides basically go get theirs and you just do everything you can to keep up. We skied waist to chest deep untracked every run until we couldn't see straight.
- Most Epic east coast: Wednesday after Stella. Couple of us played hooky and busted up to MRG for the day. I've had some pretty questionable days at MRG. That was not one of them. That was a day that made you really understand how magical that place is. I was fortunate enough to have Brad Noble there to show me the hidden gems too. Amazing place on an amazing day. Single best skiing in the east I have ever had.
What do you like most about Parlor Skis?
The uniqueness is probably the biggest thing for me. Also having gone through the "build your own" process on my second pair, I really love the fact that I had a hand in crafting them. It's pretty special to ski on something you created. It doesn't hurt that the Kingfisher is hands down the most fun ski I have ever skied on.
What advice can you offer people who are looking to hit that magical 20 days on snow?
Well its a big one and probably not feasible for everyone, but the biggest thing for me was having a place up north. When we got the ski house in VT it just made the whole process so much easier. All the gear goes up in November and just lives there until April. All you have to pack on a Friday night is some groceries and an overnight bag. Especially with kids in tow. Man, I don't know how we would do it if we had to plan every weekend. I don't think we would. #2 is probably the season pass. Committing to a full season rental and getting a season pass forces you into a mindset of "hey we already paid for all this, its what we are doing". You don't have to think about it for the rest of the season. The other beauty of the season pass which isn't really novel to anyone who has been there is the flexibility. You are much more willing to go up to the hill even on a shitty ski day if you know you can bail after 2 runs. If you are dropping $90+ for a day pass you just don't think that way. The dirty secret of my 25 Sugarbush days? At least 4 of them were 2 run days. I don't allow myself to do 1 run even in the rain.
Favorite Apres beverage?
Sip of sunshine.