The Perfect Ski Partner

What makes a good ski partner?

My admittedly sarcastic answer is that I’d like to ski with a clone of myself; someone that’s as good or maybe just a little faster then I am.

I’ve done some informal research on this, reaching out to other skiers. Some people come back with “my kids” or “my family.” I’m sure those folks are sincere. Skiing with my kids is one of the great joys in my life and they’re getting better. Every time we go out, they are a little bit closer to achieving perfect ski buddy status. They should be, I’ve been brainwashing them since the age of three.

But if “kids” or “family” is your only answer, it’s a cop out. So what makes a good ski buddy? It’s not an easy question and there are probably as many answers as there are skiers. What we’re talking about here — if we’re being completely selfish — who will maximize your ability to enjoy the day. The question is as much about you as it is about the other guy, or girl.

Does your partner get up early to ski? If not will this ruin your day? Sometimes I want to get first chair and other times I have trouble getting out of bed. I don’t mind catching up with somebody when they’re on run two or three and, conversely, don’t mind taking a couple by myself either. People who are more competitive might not enjoy the day, knowing that their ski buddy is two runs ahead of them all day. Is this where your head is at?

Does your partner want to ski the same terrain? If not, are you flexible enough to take turns choosing? For that matter, where do you fall on the whole terrain vs conditions debate? This may seem like a side issue but it’s going to affect where you go so it’s a source of possible friction.

I know a number of people who are fun to hang out with, but they’re just a lot more casual about skiing then I am. They want to avoid encountering ice at all costs. If I let them choose mountains I might end up at Windham instead of Plattekill because they groom more. Think about that for a second. Yeah.

Can your partner handle the terrain you want to ski? Will you be annoyed if your ski partner can’t keep up? Do you need your ski buddies onboard, charging hard from bell-to-bell or is a half day cool? Hot laps all morning, three beer lunch and a laid back cruiser afternoon? That sounds like a fun day to me. Is it cool to cut out and head home at three or do you need your bro’s to hang around for apres?

For that matter, is the bar scene more important then the skiing? If it is, I’m not gonna judge you, but it’s not where my head is at. These are all things to be considered. And somebody that’s perfect for you probably isn’t as good for somebody else.

I’m not saying I can’t compromise. I don’t mind slowing down to hang out with a certain person who might be a pretty crappy skier. When this happens, I may have to accept fewer runs on green trails or the easier blues and completely avoid the trees or any ungroomed terrain but that’s fine. I may even ski Stratton with her. But, as much as I might enjoy her company, I can’t say that she’s a great ski partner.

I’m not suggesting you should blow up relationships in order to improve your skiing experience. But we’re talking about something different now. A good ski partner really ought to help you in your pursuit to a good skiing, however you define it.

What do you look for in a ski partner? Alpine or nordic, post in the comments below.

10 comments on “The Perfect Ski Partner

  1. My long time ski bud lived outside Ottawa, and a few times a year we would meet up for a race. Even if I didn’t talk with him on the phone or see him for 6 months, every time we did speak or get together, it was like we’d seen one another two days ago instead of the previous winter. A couple years ago, he succumbed to ALS.

    It’s the companionship in addition to skillz.

  2. I’ve been thinking about this topic a lot over this past season, with this post Brownski beat me to it.

    This last year I found a new ski partner who really suits me. He gets up early, is never late at the meetup. Loves powder and untracked, is willing to hike for it. He’s not a vert snob either. Willing to chase at great smaller mountains like McCauley. On top of it all, a great easy-going human.

    Tip of the cap to Scottski, thanks for some great times this season.

  3. There are so many qualities necessary in a good ski partner but here are some tips to be a better one.

    The ability to stay together in the woods, stop at intersections etc until you really get to know each other is huge. It is such a lame waste of time when skiing in consequential terrain to be with someone that just does whatever they feel like, leading to a separation, then wasted time when you could get more laps in. If I wanted to dust people in the woods, I could… good thing I care more about making sure we both get out ok. That should be a shared job though.

    And because I have always driven often, it’s nice when the partner just throws a few bucks in for gas and tolls at the end of the day and says “don’t mention it”, or offers. I don’t like having to figure out mileage and expenses, and it costs money to keep a 15 year old car on the road anyway, so those two things help make a good day even better.

    Bonus points for a road buddy that actually has a decent eye for Johnny Law to avoid ticket traps!

  4. Great Post!

    Ride hard! Be Early! Back Beer and Food!
    Watch the Road! and Keep the tunes going! Don’t Sleep .. unless you’re in the back seat!
    Keep the Driver Happy and Fed!

    Ride Hard… did I say that… oh and Bell to Bell or Bell to Bar… not Bar to Bar….
    When there is Snow !! Ride it!!

    Hit me up! I am ready any time…
    A$$, Cash or Grass… No one rides for free!!

  5. Patience, I used to have much trouble getting my boots on correctly. One of my friends would glare at me while I was struggling, he’d huff and puff, like the mountain was going to go away at 9:15 on a weekday [we were both semi-retired]. Because of this many times I would rush and go out with “hot” spots on the boots. I’d suffer through a few runs and then proclaim I needed to get back in and fix them.

  6. This has been the most challenging year of my life. My ski partners stepped up. I lost my son in January and Harvey and mogul junkie, Greg, Matt, Mike Buckethead and other ski friends were there for me and offered support. I’m crazy when the snow falls and can be overbearing but my friends cut me slack. I thank everyone for the love I’ve felt over the years.

  7. Brownski I think you are slicing it way too thin here. I do have a great ski partner but the truth is I have several and maybe I am a ski hooker. I do not believe in your analytical approach at all and I encourage folks to grab a few runs or maybe a half day or a full day as long as it lasts with whoever is available at that moment and the family stuff is not a cop out.

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