If You Don’t Do It This Year, You’ll Be One Year Older When You Do

I saw my first Warren Miller ski film in 1998. Some friends and I were watching it over college winter break, and before the movie was over, I had convinced several of them to leave that night for a ski trip to Colorado.  I would soon fall in love with life in a ski town and eventually do as Warren recommended in the movie: move there.

Here we are standing atop Peak 9 in Breckenridge. For most of us, this was only our first or second time skiing. Had Jerry of the Day been around back then, we would have surely been well featured.

Every night we would watch another ski film on resort TV. Between the jokes about how we all looked more like the bloopers, one thing kept repeating over in my head – Warren Miller’s advice on moving to a ski town:

“If you don’t do it this year, you will be one year older when you do.”
– Warren Miller

Before we left for home, I took my first step toward becoming a ski town local. I got a season ski pass.

Soon after I was taking 3-day weekend trips to Colorado every second or third week throughout the winters. It began with close friends and roommates. Before long I was going with nearly anyone who would split the gas and hotel bill while promising to drive at least part of the 9 – 12 hours each way. I once met a girl at the mall on a Tuesday, and by Friday we were skiing 8″ of fresh powder together in Keystone.  This strategy helped a 19-year old college student living in Kansas log 30+ days of skiing each winter.

Meanwhile, I was falling in love with the ski towns themselves.

One year I visited Steamboat Springs and experienced something different. Less crowds. A more typical small town (rather than just a ski resort). And light, fluffy powder that actually felt like their Champagne trademark. With only 1 year remaining in graduate school, I was getting serious about becoming a ski town local.

Several years later, I skied with my soon to be wife on our first date.  My plans to move to a ski town were solidifying, with just one more reasonable delay –  I had to marry this girl first! We returned to Beaver Creek just a few months later where, thankfully, she said yes to my proposal. We started enjoying powder days as husband and wife that same year.

As we started talking about moving up to the mountains from Denver, both of us recalled a special trip we had separately taken to Steamboat. And so it was decided, we would do exactly as Warren suggested in his 2002 movie “Storm.”

“If you dream of sun-filled days and powder snow…pack all your stuff in a trailer, and move to Steamboat.”
– Warren Miller

Just 9 years after that fateful night in college watching Warren Miller ski films, I became a ski town local in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. Thank God I didn’t wait another year, because the winter of 2007/08 broke all prior records with over 450″ of snowfall, and I was able to hit almost every single powder day.

“Adventure is the invitation to common people to become uncommon.”
– Waren Miller

Adventure isn’t always easy. There were canceled flights out of a mountain airport that put my work meetings in jeopardy, the high cost of living, and an eventual realization that neither the adult obligations of life nor local politics are fully absent in a ski town. But nothing worth doing is easy.

Our kids started in the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club at the age of 2.  Before I knew it, my 7-year old son was leading my 6-year old daughter down her first black diamond run with 8″ of fresh powder. Warren had prepared me for this day by once saying:

“Exactly one day in your life, your kid will ski as good as you do. The next day, he’ll ski better than you.”
– Warren Miller

We left Steamboat last year due to a health issue in the family. I miss it dearly but feel incredibly fortunate to have experienced so many amazing memories there. I’m even more thankful that while my goal started off to live in a ski town, it transformed into living life to the fullest each and every day no matter where I reside.

“Die living!”
– Warren Miller

Warren Miller passed away yesterday after 93 years of living. He positively impacted a countless number of people – both inside and outside of skiing. I’m very grateful for the motivation he had on my life.

Warren’s influence transcends his death. Case in point, my 8-year old son is already watching several of his films to prepare for our skip trip to British Columbia next month. His favorite? “Children of Winter,” featuring the very tree skiing runs we enjoyed so many times together in Steamboat. My daughter prefers “Black Diamond Rush” for its feature of “Nelson’s Run,” the second black diamond she skied.

So no matter what the decision is to be made, personally or professionally, I try to always remember that…

“If you don’t do it this year, you will be one year older when you do.”
– Warren Miller

My wife and me during our first ski season in Steamboat Springs.

My dog atop Emerald Mountain, overlooking the Steamboat Ski Resort

My son’s first day in the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club, age 2

Pre-school in Steamboat Springs

My son’s fifth birthday present: his first Black Diamond

My daughter’s first day in the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club, age 2

My daughter ski-joring in the Steamboat Winter Carnival, age 6

“First chair” with the kids

Our last family ski day together in Steamboat Springs


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3 responses to “If You Don’t Do It This Year, You’ll Be One Year Older When You Do”

  1. Laurel Poertner Avatar
    Laurel Poertner

    What a great tribute, Scott! I too remember watching my first Warren Miller movie in the early 90s at the Paramount Theater in Seattle. It was always shown in October and got your hopes up to see just a fraction of the powder displayed on screen. He will be missed!

  2. Brad Phillips Avatar
    Brad Phillips

    Awesome blog entry… Warren Miller made such an impact on so many of us — that annual film release was the adrenaline kickoff for the ski season, as we wished we had 10% of the talent of those onscreen. Good for you to follow your dreams!

  3. […] family is now leaving because of the winters. Living in a ski town was a dream of mine since first visiting Colorado. I envisioned epic snow storms that lasted for days, secret powder stashes that never got tracked […]

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