Why I Ski or Ride | Chapter 6: Skiing Is In Our Blood

Why I Ski or Ride | Chapter 6: Skiing Is In Our Blood

A series of stories from skiers and riders, and why they love what they do.

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Chapter 6: Skiing is in Our Blood

In the '60s, my mum moved to Detroit from the UK. My dad was my mum's ski instructor at Boyne, and they met when she joined the Detroit Ski Club. They would go up to Boyne on their weekends, but their first date was July 4th on the Detroit River.

They continued going north to Boyne with their club. She still tells stories of the good times they had, and the time she cried on Hemlock, scared and mad at my dad.

Later on, my dad taught lessons and ran the Mountaineer Ski Club in Detroit. Every Saturday, we would load up on cold school buses to head to a different metro Detroit ski hill. He was an engineer at Ford, but he worked second jobs at ski shops to help pay for our equipment.

He learned to ski in the Alps while in the navy, and floated down the mountain with ease. He was the best skier I ever saw. 

He would take us to Boyne Mountain as kids. I remember thinking how huge it seemed as we pulled in. We always stayed in the Clock Tower. I remember breakfast in my long underwear, first tracks, heated pools, singing on the chair lift, and apres-ski my dad would sing “you don’t have to call me darlin’… darlin’…” The mountain was his happy place.

He was killed in a car accident after leaving work. I was 14, and my brother was 15.

My children never had the chance to meet him, but I take them to Boyne as it is now my happy place, and there, his memory is still alive.

  

I think of him on the chair lift, and can hear his voice telling me as I turn - “keep your skis together, bend the knees, follow the line." I repeat those words to my kids, along with his favorite - “If you are not falling you are not learning! Get up and dust yourself off!” Life lessons.

I search the walls of Trophy Room, sure that I will someday find a picture of Al Allen, the best skier I’ve ever seen and the best to ever ski Boyne.

My brother, Mark Allen, now lives in Telluride. His daughter, age 12, skis chair 9 and she rips! Watch out for Piper Allen in the Olympics one day!

Mark floats down the mountain with ease, as my father did, and is arguably the second-best skier I’ve ever seen.

You might say skiing is in our blood.

-Wendy Kettler

 


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