Taking the Slopes by Storm (Literally!)

The MMS Outdoor Adventure Club put together the most fantastic ski trip recently. That’s right … ski trip! My ears perked up, too when I heard about the excursion. My mind immediately went to a warm ski lodge in Colorado, with my friends and I sitting by some massive fireplace donning chic fur-trimmed ski clothes, each holding a bottle of mulled cider …

Enjoying the wintry weather.

Wait a minute. We’re going skiing in the middle of Virginia??

Who would have thought that only 3 hours away from Duke’s campus there’s a ski resort in Virginia called Wintergreen? I certainly never imagined such a place. In fact, I didn’t know the Appalachian Mountains reached high enough to sustain a proper ski course, but seriously, what do I know? As you can deduce from my daydream above, the extent of my skiing abilities is limited to me teetering on my skis long enough to get to the ski lifts at the end of the bunny slopes so that I can ride up to the comfort of the mountain lodge and enjoy a nice drink — sans skis, of course.

ryan

Ryan Clark, my savior on the mountain!

So it was settled, a large group of people would make the journey to the mountains to see what these slopes had to offer. Thankfully Ryan Clark agreed to drive a few of us. He’s the MMS class Communications Director, the most reasonable person I know, and the owner of a family friendly vehicle with functioning windows and a TV screen in the backseat. I know the design of this vehicle was intended to cater to small children, but we couldn’t help the strange need to messily eat boiled peanuts and rock candy while watching “I Love You Man” in the backseat. Actually, Ryan, we’re really sorry about the mess. Please send us your cleaning bill …

We arrived in Waynesboro late that evening, and I was already getting antsy about the coming exertions on the mountain. I begged our Social Chair, Mike Cho, to tell everyone to wake up earlier than we had originally planned. I wanted to get to the slopes at 8 am, not 11! But as soon as we settled into our hotel, it was clear that instead of getting a full night’s sleep, we would have to play some Canadian game that involved quarters and empty cans …

ski lodge

Resting at the lodge.

My group was the absolute last one from the MMS class to make it to the mountain. We arrived just in time to miss the 11 o’clock ski class. In the 2 hours between classes we took the slopes by ourselves and by the end of the waiting period, and after several compliments over my form, I decided that I could forgo the ski lessons and take on the other, more difficult side of the mountain. I was soaring … for about 3 minutes until I had the most spectacular fall. My bindings unnecessarily tight, my skis remained in tact, and I laid splayed across the course with my body contorted in the most impossible way. I could tell by looking up at Ryan’s face that my fall had looked really painful. The only words I could muster were “lodge” and “now!”

From the comfort of the mountain lodge, with my ski boots discarded, I enjoyed the slopes immensely. Even when the sun started to set and it began to snow — and I mean clumpy great skiing snow — our group stayed on the slopes. The crowd thinned to a trickle of patrons, and we decided to give the slopes one more shot. The combination of perfect powder, short lift lines, and my silly MMS classmates made this one of the best group trips I’ve ever been on. And even though I am a bit bruised and banged up, I am glad we had a chance to go to Wintergreen Resort, and definitely plan on returning in the future.

Candace Buford

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MMS, Class of 2013. Find out more about me...

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