First chair of the season is a big deal. To me, it was such a big deal that when I was 16 I lied to my parents, telling them I was going to stay at a friends house, in order to camp out for first chair. That’s right, I didn’t lie in order to go to a party or a girl’s house, I lied to ensure I got first chair. It was a cold night, and by the time the sky started turning dusty blue we were half frozen and hadn’t slept a wink. I think we skied all of two runs that day, due to exhaustion. The majority of people thought we were crazy- not understanding how we could justify one fleeting moment, with so much effort and discomfort. However, the minority understood- it’s not always about the skiing.
It's adventures like this that keep me coming back to the mountains. Simply, because it’s fun (this particular adventure was so fun we did it two years in a row). Sure, there are endless other reasons- from conquering large peaks to just being in the wilderness with friends- but at the end of the day I think it’s the good times that keeps everyone coming back. I can’t really imagine another situation with the potential for more adventure (for better or worse) than the winter wilderness. I’ve had icy days in the park that have been all time, and deep, deep powder days that should have been life-altering good, but weren’t for whatever reason. The point is, every day skiing is a proverbial blank canvas and has the potential to be a great day; it’s truly what you make it.
For me, Jackson was the only choice in North America. As far as blank canvases for adventure go, I don’t think there’s a bigger one in North America. Furthermore, after spending the last couple of seasons competing in Europe against skiers with the Aiguille du Midi in their backyard, I realized that I needed to be somewhere with similar access. There’s truly no substitute for 4,000’ of fall-line skiing with exposure. Lastly, I grew up in a small town that shares a lot of the same values as Jackson. I’ve spent time in virtually every other ski town in the west, and, from a lifestyle perspective, I can’t imagine a better place to live than Jackson.