What I Like About This Ski Season (Despite COVID and Other Stuff )

With so much to be concerned with, dragged down by, and just angry about, I thought I might share some things that are good happening within our patrol, patrol members, and at our mountain. In no way, is the intent to minimize anyone’s personal struggles or concerns, especially regarding the very personal choices around COVID.

We are through January and most definitely into the new year! For most of us, this New Year represents yet another annual opportunity for a “fresh start!” Normally, if there is such a thing right now, our typical traditional “New Year’s” resolutions and new found commitments are relatively benign. More often than not they sound like, I need to work out more, lose a few pounds, focus on this or that with more energy, but this new year…… the expectations are higher than ever before! Most of us are hopeful to an end of the pandemic. This “thing” that seems to permeate every aspect of our lives at several levels throughout our families and society.

Many of us are burdened emotionally and disturbed regarding the election, political division, and a very palpable sensation of general unrest and agitation among so many Americans. Add a little isolation to those things and a plethora of bad news bombarding us via multiple social media avenues, and it does get overwhelming indeed.

It is times like this that many people know just what to do. We may all struggle at times doing what we know we need to do to foster an attitude of contentment, tolerance, and gratitude. However, I have a strong sense that you and I have a significant advantage over most folks when it comes to knowing what to do to feel better.

Somewhere along the line, we were introduced to the sport of skiing, the love of mountains, and the friendship of others who enjoy those very same things. Beyond that, we became ski patrollers and we get to enjoy and even tighter group of people who simply love to ski, love to share in that joy with other like minded souls, and enjoy being of assistance to others.

The presence of COVID has even permeated that special corner of our hearts, and for myself, and some of my dearest friends and companions, it has run the gamut from depression to anger. It has caused others to “call it in” for the season as the risk is just too much, and understandably so. It is indeed a very real risk, and demands thoughtful personal choice at the very least.

Our Patrol has not been, and is not immune to these, stressors, demands, and often extremely difficult choices. However, I need to get back to the topic of, “What I like about this ski season” now don’t I? For me, as it is for so many of you, the “ski season” revolves around patrolling, and the days that I do ski without a vest and radio are far outnumbered indeed.

Further, ski patrolling currently, and has been for some time now, for me is about leadership. A concerted effort is directed into making sure we have a place to patrol the following year and maintain a cooperative and collaborative relationship with the paid staff and mountain management. It is about recruitment of more like minded souls, it is about the engagement of current members by offering challenges and advancement, and finally it is about the recognition of the members who are of service to our patrol and the NSP. Most importantly, it is about making DRNSP the best patrol it can be regardless of COVID by focusing on “work arounds and solutions.”

That said, just what has been going on for the last month and a half or so of the 2020 and 2021 season? Just what does this patrol have to celebrate? We do have much to celebrate!

First, and related to COVID, we as a patrol were able to work with Tuolumne County and were offered to be vaccinated as First Responders. Our second shot is scheduled for Feb. 12th. About thirty of us chose to proceed, out of 40ish that have chosen to stay active on the roster for the season by not checking the “Temp. not Patrolling box, or going Alumni.” Our own Dore Bietz is employed within The Tuolumne County Administrative Office and was instrumental in making this happen. Thank You Dore!

We are growing! To date our active roster is at 64, and that is despite a handful going Alumni just this past season. Currently, about 20 patrollers have opted for the “temporarily not patrolling box” which has been provided by the NSP because of COVID, but they are still considered active and in good standing by the NSP.

When we add our two new DRNSP Mountain Hosts, we are 66 strong. The DRNSPMH program is becoming a vital part of weekend operations and is being well received by mountain management. Please welcome OFC, Outdoor First Care, certified Mountain Hosts Randy Pench, our first Mtn. Host Advisor, and Lana Goldgeisser. They report that others are interested and we sure would like that program to continue growing. Recruit!

During the month of January, we were able to have three candidates complete their training and become Alpine Patrollers. Please welcome Skyler Kivley, a “Young Adult Patroller.” If you are unsure about how his role is handled at our resort, please ask. Please also welcome Dave Chesson and Venecia Jacobs to our Alpine Patrol Ranks.

During the last weekend of January, we “screened” four prospects. We have decided to invite two of them to join our patrol, with a third tentative pending a February or March rescreening.

One will begin next fall with OEC and then proceed on to ski and toboggan training during 2021/2022 season. Please welcome Howie Pavlik.

The other we invited to begin training immediately. Please welcome our second YAP in as many years, Mattie Knobloch. She will begin training with our two existing active Candidates Kurt Uhler and Jim Graul.

Kurt and Jim were OEC certified this past fall and are just beginning their Ski and Toboggan Training. Now with Mattie on board, we will strive to get these three through their training by the season’s end with evaluation date set at March 27th 2021.

Finally, regarding recruitment, we have three others awaiting a ski screening so the possibility of picking up more candidates for the next season is very good. They would join Josita Wenski who is taking the year off due to COVID. It is still early in the season, so keep recruiting. All prospects report their interest via social media and seeing us train on the mountain.

Our Senior Program despite COVID continues to remain strong and we have five active Seniors in training this season. This program is absolutely vital to the skill set health of our patrol. From the Senior Program, we gain better more rounded patrollers, OET instructors, and leaders with a “bigger picture.” We have three who have a very good shot at becoming Alpine Seniors this season, with Sonja Kivley, Bruce Simon, and Danny Rose each only one or two successes away from getting their Senior patch. Close behind are Carolyn Simon, and Leon Goldgeisser.

What else do I like about this ski season?

We got some more snow to bring into February! It was deep! I get to ski and patrol with some of the best people I know, seriously.

I am blessed and have an Epic Mid-week pass. I skied Heavenly in some really cold powdery conditions not too many days back and I am going again tomorrow, with my cousin and a couple of other fun seeking like minded souls.

Snow, and being on the snow, whether you ride two sticks or one, is a for sure cure to the “Funk” that is around us at so many levels it seems this past year. If you can do it safely and comfortably, I highly recommend skiing. For me anyways it is such a force when it comes to bringing a smile to my face, helping me forget about my daily physical and mental nags while giving me something positive to focus on. I love wearing my red and black NSP gear and being of service, seeing other folks of all abilities out enjoying themselves and playing in the snow.

What a wonderful gift that I have been given and am blessed to enjoy with all of you.

If I have not seen you yet this season, I hope I do soon, If not, next year then. In the meantime, stay safe enjoy yourselves, and I wish you all the best this ski season and year!

Thanks for allowing me to be your Patrol Representative.

All the Best,
Bill Borelli