“It just took living somewhere completely barren of terrain for me to realize that being in the mountains wasn’t just another hobby I wanted to pursue on mere occasion. It was a lifestyle I wanted to embrace more and more over the years.” —Chris Scholts, winner of the 2016 Sweetest Season contest.
Though he was randomly picked from nearly 1500 entries, Chris Scholt’s story about how skiing has changed his life makes us even happier he was the winner of our 2016 Vermont’s Sweetest Season contest hosted by the Vermont Department of Tourism and Vermont Ski + Ride.
The package of prizes (see slideshow below), includes a ski weekend at Sugarbush Resort, a pair of J Skis, a Dakine Heliport backpack from Outdoor Gear Exchange/GearX.com, an overnight stay at Lareau Farm Inn and dinner at American Flatbread, a $100 gift certificate to Ski The East, gift baskets from Lake Champlain Chocolates and The Warren Store, a package of UnTapped maple syrup and waffles, earrings and a gift certificate to 40rty Bridge Boutique in Waitsfield, and a year’s subscription to Vermont Ski + Ride and Vermont Sports magazines.
Scholts, an IT specialist from New Jersey, was skiing at Sugarbush for the first time this past weekend when we notified him that he’d won. “I can’t believe it!” he said, “I was just thinking about how much I loved being here and now I can come back.” He also shared the pretty amazing story of how he fell in love with skiing:
“My ex actually taught me how to ski, or rather get down the hill, back in 2008-2009. I was only interested in hiking at that point, but figured I’d try my hand at skiing and actually enjoyed it. Oddly enough, she really wanted to move down to Florida of all places, and so we did.
As a result I became depressed and was very uncomfortable with the atmosphere down south—who wouldn’t be? It just took living somewhere completely barren of terrain for me to realize that being in the mountains wasn’t just another hobby I wanted to pursue on mere occasion. It was a lifestyle I wanted to embrace more and more over the years.
We eventually broke up and I flew home for New Years 2011 to be with my family. My flight was delayed because of the killer storm at the time, so I decided to return to Mountain Creek, alone. I remember how at peace I was, being alone on the mountain in snow.
I returned to Florida to my job working for a ministry called Campus Crusade for Christ, and they were generous enough to send me to work in Fort Collins, Colorado for 2 months to work at their staff conference. I would troubleshoot computers all day, then run around the mountains like a dog without a leash in the evenings. My experience there is what really changed everything for me. I became very comfortable being in the mountains alone.
Eventually I moved back to New Jersey, then in 2012, my cousin donated me his old Salomon Ten Eighty Spaceframe skis. So in 2013 I bought a cheap pair of ski boots and learned how to ski with my cousins and their friend, who are all excellent skiers.
I went to Killington with them for the first time and was just blown away (I had passed through Vermont earlier in the year to go hiking in the White Mountains). By then I totally caught the bug, and really wanted to improve so I could at least keep up with them.
Since then I’ve spent many days on the slopes alone, always having fun but trying to improve at something. Between observing and admiring other shredders, watching ski movies or how-to videos on YouTube, I was able to improve at a more accelerated rate, so much that I needed to upgrade my equipment the next year.
I can now switch ride, and hit moderate jumps with some grabs thrown in. I’ve had a few injuries in between, but I have always been determined to keep going. I started getting a little more adventurous this year with sliding boxes and doing 180’s off jumps (I’m 36 years old and just starting to do this stuff). I truly believe skiing is an art form just as much as it is a sport.
I live in West Milford which a stone’s throw from where the Appalachian Trail passes through into NY. I spend much of my free time hiking, skiing, running, biking, or working on my music and websites.
Tomorrow will be my 28th day skiing this season.”