Racing Through Their 70’s at Ski Butternut

By AlpineZone News |
Feb 06 2006 - 10:48 AM

GREAT BARRINGTON, Massachusetts ??” Thirty downhill ski racers from across the Northeast took to the Main Street Giant Slalom Course at Ski Butternut in Great Barrington, MA, on Wednesday. Unlike the race programs, high school and prep school races that take place regularly here at Ski Butternut, these kids were in high school back in the 40’s & 50’s. Some had already graduated and were proudly serving our country as members of the famed 10th Mountain Division during WWII.

With competitors ages ranging from 70 to 88 (many accompanied by friends in their 90’s that were skiing but choosing not to race), these fearless racers cruised through the gates, displaying their more organic, old-school style and finishing strong on every run. Many of the competitors gave a “woohoo”, or a “yeeehaaaa”, as they sped across the finish line, stopping the clock. Quickly looking back up the hill to check their time, some rejoiced at surpassing personal goals while others seemed determined to push harder on their next run.

Top finishers for their age bracket, included Mark Marquez, Gerhart Menzel, Tom Coates, Hal Hart, Mae Coates, Betty Tresselt and Arlene Kaplan. The best overall times for men went to Gerhart Menzel, with a time of 27.31 seconds (Menzel is an active member of the Butternut Ski Patrol) and women Betty Tresselt finished with a time of 33.65 seconds.

As a twenty four year old twin tip skier watching these racers forced me to think about my own future on snow. Even when I have been cruising the slopes with a huge smile on my face; thoughts about how long the “skiing lifestyle” can last have entered my mind.

“Does the feeling of cruising with your buddies, cracking jokes on the lift, mountain air, blurred trees, a face full of powder, the sun warming your clothes, and a cold beer at the end of the day, ever get old, or lose its luster”?

“Will it always be this fun”?

Watching the 70+ Racers on Wednesday, crossing the finish line, joking about falls or mistakes, and cheering on their fellow competitors, answered my questions with a resounding, “YES”. Finally, there is a little more hope that even if this season doesn’t turn itself around to offer those epic powder days that we all long for, or even if I’m never on fresh snow again, the next 60 years of my career on snow should be just as awesome as my first 22. All I need is the snow, something to slide on and my friends.