Page 1

A RETURN TO THE SKI HILL ON SEVERANCE STREET P. 10

W I N T E R

2 0 1 9

ONE SKI INSTRUCTOR’S ARTFUL JOURNEY P. 24

FROM HAPPY HOUR TO THE ARCTIC CIRCLE P. 28

ATOP A TREND, WEDDINGS WITH A VIEW P. 36


visitbenzie.com

DouglasValley.net 231.887.3333

2 CONVENIENT LOCATIONS A SHORT 30 MINUTE DRIVE Open Year Round - Retail Shop Tastings

-

By The Glass

www.luckydogbarandgrille.com Downtown Beulah, MI (231) 383-4499


EXECUTIVE EDITOR Brian Lawson

CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Bob Butz Kim Schneider Lynda Wheatley

ILLUSTRATION Amy Breitner Debbie Bihlman

CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERS Benzie County Historical Society Bob Neumann Brian Confer Brian Lawson Brian Walters Brittany Roberts Dave Weidner Debbie Bihlman Iron Fish Distillery Jeff Rabidoux Keirsun Scott Kris Kohler LuxLight Photography Michigan Legacy Art Park Moore Outfitters Nancy Story Nick Nerbonne Tom Dawson

GROOMED TO PERFECTION Learn the reasons why Crystal’s corduroy is a thing of such beauty.

P. 08

TAPPED INTO SOMETHING Think syrup is just for pancakes and waffles? You’re in for a sweet surprise.

Crystal Mountain 12500 Crystal Mountain Dr. Thompsonville, MI 49683-9742 888.976.4484 crystalmountain.com info@crystalmountain.com

P. 14

THREE MEN IN A RAFT

LAYOUT + DESIGN

A dentist, contractor and outfitter walk into Four Seasons Club Happy Hour, the rest is an epic adventure.

Gail Snable MyNorth Media

ADVERTISING SALES Jena Van Wagner 616.915.5967 jena_van@yahoo.com

P. 28

Mountain Life© is published semi-annually. Copyright 2018 by Crystal Mountain. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in whole or in part, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means without prior written approval of the Publisher. The Publisher reserves the right to reject or edit any manuscripts received for publication.

CRYSTAL’S GOLDEN BOY Meet Fisher, Crystal Mountain’s number one employee on four legs.

P. 44 M O U N TA I N L I F E

CRYSTALMOUNTAIN.COM | MOUNTAIN LIFE | WINTER 2018/19

3


pssst. pass it on.

At some point you were let in on a little secret. We all were. One does not come to the idea of venturing outdoors during the winter by happenstance—at least, not for fun. There’s someone that gives us a nudge in that direction. They make the introduction with an excitement and enthusiasm that is often a bit contagious. Once it’s taken hold you’re never quite the same. Later in this issue I’ll share my story about an exceptional 87-year-old who was certainly among those who helped point my skis in the right direction. If you ski, snowboard, cross-country ski, snowshoe, fat tire bike or anything else during the winter then you have a story like this too. Maybe it was born from a long family tradition or maybe a friend just asked one day, “Do you wanna go?” That was the moment you were let in on this little gem: A southbound flight is not required to find warmth in the month of November, December, January, February or March. This isn’t to say that the most adamant of enthusiasts don’t seek out a tropical climate during winter but we are endowed with the knowledge there is plenty of warmth to be found in the cold.

On a chairlift sitting next to your kids. Cruising downhill through six inches of lake effect powder. Sipping a glass of wine by the fire as the snow falls outside. It may not be a sugar-sand beach but in the moment, these places are warmer than any other on earth. I don’t know if I’m growing more nostalgic or just more aware with each passing year but I’m grateful someone shared the secret with me. If you are too then pass it on. There are trails, chairlifts, tow ropes, bunny hills and terrain parks scattered wherever it snows. Help them find that beautifully groomed path that was so generously shown to you. Whatever the path, we hope yours leads back to Crystal Mountain sometime soon.

Brian Lawson, Executive Editor

CRYSTALMOUNTAIN.COM | MOUNTAIN LIFE | WINTER 2018/19

5


WHAT’S NEW THIS WINTER

NOT UNLIKE A SNOWFLAKE, EACH WINTER AT CRYSTAL MOUNTAIN IS A LITTLE DIFFERENT. THERE’S ALWAYS SOMETHING NEW. A YEAR AGO THE VERY FIRST DRINKS WERE BEING POURED AT THE BRU BAR. THE DOORS OPENED TO THE MOUNTAIN MARKET AND GUESTS GOT THEIR VERY FIRST GLANCES AT THE SNOW SWEPT LANDSCAPE FROM THE BALCONIES AND FLOOR-TO-CEILING WINDOWS OF THE INN RESIDENCES. THIS SEASON BRINGS AN EXTRA WEEK, GETS SOME ADDED FLAVOR FROM THE MARKET, SHEDS NEW LIGHT ON CROSSCOUNTRY SKIING AND FIGURES IN A NEW SURFACE FOR SKATING IN THE MIDDLE OF THE VILLAGE.

A NEW RINK The winter setting in the midst of Barr Park is among the most magical within the village as skaters and hockey players take turns gliding across the ice. This year the rink will be a little less subject to the meteorological whims of Mother Nature and Old Man Winter. Crystal Mountain will install a new surface with a design that should provide more opportunity for figure-eights and hockey-stops alike. Alongside the new rink will be a new bonfire area in which to both get toasty and toast to a beautiful winter’s day on the mountain. TEST THE MARKET With the turning lifts, beautiful snow and Crystal Crispies beckoning from the Clipper Café it can be easy to get distracted from a delectable option in the heart of the village. Just a short walk from the slopes is the Mountain Market, located in the Inn lobby. The locally sourced Ebels meats, artisan cheeses, chef-made sandwiches, salad bar and other snacks (sweet, salty and all flavors between) can be a great break for whatever the meal or a stop to load up on food and drink for an apres ski party. Keep an eye on Crystal’s Facebook and Instagram pages for special events and offers throughout the winter. BE A NASTAR Few ski areas in the Midwest see more NASTAR racers than Crystal Mountain. The course is on the same slope this season but will have a different name that honors one of its most legendary competitors (more details on page 22). In addition to a new price for juniors (two runs for $3) and free

pre-race clinics (Monday and Wednesday-Sunday) come some special events. Olympian Daron Rahlves will be here for NASTAR pacesetting trials on December 19, the NASTAR Midwest Championships visit February 9-10 with Medalist Weekend on the schedule March 23-24. SOLAR-POWERED SKIING Night-skiing is a Midwest tradition but not just on the downhill trails. For years, Crystal Mountain has lighted five kilometers of its Otter trail for night skiing. The only change to that tradition this year is how the trail is lit. The new lighting won’t rely on a plug but the sun as solar-powered lights brightly illuminate the path ahead for cross-country skiers - only with more energy efficiency. AN ATOMIC FLEET The Nordic Center in Kinlochen is literally going Atomic. A new retail line of skis, poles and boots – classic and skate – will be available in the shop this winter. If you haven’t tried cross-country skiing, Winter Trails Day on January 5 is a great opportunity for an introduction and a good workout. AN EXTRA WEEK The chairlifts will stay open a week longer than usual this season, until April 7. Of course to ski and snowboard we’ll still need permission from Mother Nature and Old Man Winter. Regardless, the Edge Adventure Course, Vertical Edge Climbing Wall, indoor pool, fat tire bikes and plenty of other Spring Break activities will offer a fun finish to what is sure to be another spectacular season.

CRYSTALMOUNTAIN.COM | MOUNTAIN LIFE | WINTER 2018/19

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Groomed to Perfection Next to knee deep powder, is there anything more glorious than morning light hitting the mountain’s untouched corduroy before first tracks? We can’t think of anything either. Ever wondered how it gets there? Spoiler: It’s not the work of enchanted, mystical beings but the result of a relatively small group of dedicated artists spending hours and hours painstakingly etching every detail on the resort’s snow-covered canvas, day after day, night after night.

Kicking the (snow) Base!

How it works:

5000

Grooming Order:

20-24

Hours of labor to open 100% of the resort’s terrain

Hours of combined Cat Time needed each night to groom the trails

Each groomer’s ‘cutting bar’ chews up the snow and feeds the ‘power tiller comb’ to create corduroy.

1.

Black Diamond

2.

Blue

3.

Green – slower & softer for beginners


Protecting Powder Different Months Different Missions On nights when heavy snow is forecasted groomers will skip most black and blue trails prepping only the greens.

NOVEMBER-DECEMBER

BUILD: Making and pushing snow to open as early as possible

JANUARY-FEBRUARY

Jan-Feb

MAINTAIN: Best conditions of the season

No Walk in the Park

Crystal’s Award Winning (by Traverse magazine) Park Crew puts in full days maintaining terrain parks plus another 6-8 hours after trails have closed.

Herding Cats:

MARCH-APRIL

RETAIN: As temps begin to rise (mid-March) groomers reset and hold the snow each night

Crystal Mountain has a fleet of cats that groom the trails including;

1 WINCH CAT • 1 TUCKER FACILITY VEHICLE 1 PARK PRO • 2 GENERAL PURPOSE GROOMERS

FACTS ABOUT CATS

(Each replaced every 5-6 years)

$400

K

10 mph CRYSTALMOUNTAIN.COM | MOUNTAIN LIFE | WINTER 2018/19

9


history 101


SKIING AT SEVERANCE STREET BY LYNDA WHEATLEY

A

bout 10 miles northwest of Crystal Mountain, just shy of the Benzie County’s only stoplight sits Severance Street. At its mouth stands the remains of the WPAbuilt Benzonia High School gymnasium with no trace of its former neighbor, the three-storied Benzonia High School, with its arched barn-style roof or imposing bell tower. At the end of the street, where the asphalt halts, and the hilltop edge plunges into the Betsie Valley, was where downhill skiing in Benzie County began. In the late 1940s, it was the backyard of Ward and Constance Creech. Ward was the principal of Benzonia High and a science and math teacher. Constance was an artist, an athlete and as Chris MacInnes, president of Crystal Mountain, remembers: the life of the party. Jane Freeland-Gershick, docent at the Benzonia Historical Museum, recalls the sight of Connie’s white go-go boots flashing by as the tiny but vivacious blonde strutted into Sunday mass: “She was a force.” Some say the motivation for opening up the hill was the high school students, who would trundle down after the school bell rang. Others credit Ward’s love for Connie — and Connie herself, a woman of big ideas and infinite mojo who absolutely loved skiing. The kids and adults of Benzonia spent night after night and weekend after weekend, rosy-cheeked and free as birds flying up and down Creech Hill one side skiing and the other on old fashioned toboggans. The details of those seemingly endless winter nights and weekends may be a bit fuzzy but the experience for those who lived it remains clear as any bluebird March day in Benzie County. “I loved it,” says MacInnes. “There wasn’t a lot of parental supervision. They were around, but they weren’t around in your brain, you know?”

“I don’t remember being cold,” she adds after a pause. “I’m sure I was, but what I remember most was that it was just a total blast.” The days of Creech Hill as a community ski spot did end, not because the Creeches had enough, but because the activity and experience had become so beloved that it seemed the community couldn’t get enough. As legend has it, Ward Creech posed a challenge to his students to find a spot in Benzie County where the snowfall and slope was even bigger and better and they rose to the challenge. By the winter of 1956, the community had a new place to cut loose: Buck Hills Ski Area, home to three downhill trails and a world of possibility. “It was all the same people, just more of them, and more fun,” MacInnes said recalling no hiatus, remorse, or sad goodbye to Creech’s Hill. “It was like we had a small piece of cake, and then we got ice cream. It just got better.” Sadly, Ward passed away just three years later, in 1959. Connie would go on for decades as a vibrant artist, community member and a college fraternity housemother. She would later craft a one-of-a-kind stone sculpture depicting her and Ward bonded together forever, for their shared gravestone in the Benzonia Township Cemetery. Creech’s Hill may no longer be the riotous winter destination it once was but its role as a catalyst for a community’s fun and freedom is hardly lost in the hearts of those who lived and loved it. In fact, that very spirit has been celebrated for over 60 years by thousands who have made the pilgrimage to Benzie County for skiing and snowboarding. So this winter, as snow falls on the quiet scrub and young trees that are slowly retaking the old hill, it might be worth remembering its place in northern Michigan skiing history and the couple who welcomed everyone to the last house on Severance Street.

CRYSTALMOUNTAIN.COM | MOUNTAIN LIFE | WINTER 2018/19

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spa | healthy lifestyle

THE INS AND OUTS OF

Winter Training

S

imply put, training for and running a half-marathon, 10K or 5K is hard. That’s why you do it. But the Midwest adds its own special set of challenges between the months of November and April. Somehow the cold and snow that’s so great when you’re wearing a pair of ski boots isn’t quite so grand when you go to lace up your running shoes. However, there are ways to endure these conditions to maintain and build your endurance during the winter. Jill Forney, who works in Crystal Mountain’s recreation department, has run the Boston Marathon nine times. Heather Johnson Durocher, founder of the Michigan Runner Girl Blog and Podcast, has yet to meet a season that’s diminished her passion for running and wellness. We asked these two accomplished runners for two different approaches to staying in shape before the spring thaw gives bloom to race season. INNER PEACE Jill has been a dedicated runner for almost 25 years and learned there’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad wardrobe choices. But still, on days that are sub-zero, layering and Yak Trax will only help so much. Her winter goal is to maintain her fitness and has three tips for when the weather keeps you indoors: LOW-TECH CARDIO: The step aerobics bench I bought at a garage sale was the best $1.75 I’ve ever spent. The arms drive the legs so while I’m on the step bench I’ll work my upper body with hand weights or a medicine ball.

FORMULA FOR SUCCESS: If I need to train indoors I will substitute ten minutes of cross-training for every mile I’d normally be running that day. SWITCHING SHOES: I like snowshoeing because it pushes me outdoors on days when it’s not necessarily safe to run and works the lower body a little differently than my other activities.

OUT IN THE ELEMENTS Heather fully admits that even experienced runners have questioned her sanity in choosing snow-covered pavement instead of a treadmill. In the same breath she’ll tell you that it’s one of the best ways to feel alive. The secret is a sense of adventure, positive attitude and good clothing choices. STARTING AT THE VERY TOP: A breathable hat that fits over your ears will keep your head warm but not too sweaty. Turtle Fur can help on days when it’s sub-freezing. Lip balm, sunscreen and a little Vaseline on your nose and cheeks can help protect against the elements. ALL ABOUT LAYERS: A long sleeve top that wicks away the moisture is a must-have. Depending on the temperature, I’ll top with a t-shirt or warmer jacket with wicking material. A friend of mine takes a lap near home and decides whether or not to shed a layer before continuing on.


TE! en HE DA T itt E V A o S N rth M for the 5K

and ation Registr arathon, 10K uary 1. m n Jan Halfpens o o ) 6 2 (May

ON THE BOTTOM: Breathable running tights are essential. I really like my Brooks thermal running tights and have heard that those lined with brushed fleece are ‘very comfy.’ DON’T FORGET REFLECTIVE GEAR: Safety first. It may not be a great fashion statement but it’s important to be seen. FINGERS & TOES: Fingerless gloves with flop mittens are a popular choice. SmartWool socks, much like what you’d wear for skiing, work great. Nanospikes or Yak Trax provide added traction in slippery conditions.

ADD THAI TO YOUR TRAINING This winter Crystal Spa will add Table Thai and Thai Foot Reflexology to its menu of services. This is a modern expression of a more than 2,500-year-old tradition of Asian bodywork using the whole body to treat the whole body. You will be moved into a series of yoga-like stretches to help increase range of motion and muscular strength. More energizing and dynamic than traditional massage, Thai works with the body's movement potential on a comfortable mat on the floor or table aiding in recovery and performance as you prepare for your next race. Make your reservation by calling 855.995.5146.

For more great tips be sure to check out Heather’s blog and podcast at MichiganRunnerGirl.com. As always, be sure to consult your doctor before starting any training program.

COMING TO

CRYSTAL SPA:

Barrel-aged Body Treatment, Winter Wheat Massage and Tawney Port Pedicure featuring product infused with Iron Fish spirits. Visit crystalmountain.com for details.

CRYSTALMOUNTAIN.COM | MOUNTAIN LIFE | WINTER 2018/19

13


T

Tapped into Something

he same bluebird skies, sunshine and sub-freezing overnight temps that make spring skiing so sweet actually produce something even more so: Syrup. While skiers and snowboarders are flowing down the trails all day in March so too is the sap from northern Michigan’s abundance of maple trees. Sure, it’s delightful over pancakes but if you think the enjoyment of maple syrup is limited only to a short stack, you’re selling it short.

Michigan is the fifth largest producer of maple syrup in the United States. Each spring approximately 3.6 million gallons of sap is harvested from the state’s maples, boiled in order to evaporate water and concentrate sugars, making 90,000 gallons of syrup annually. It’s estimated there are more than 500 producers tapping trees in Michigan including at least six of them within 25 miles or less of Crystal Mountain. You can find a directory at mi-maplesyrup.com So what makes this such a sweet spot for syrup? The northern Michigan weather that helps set up the snow overnight for skiing in short sleeves the next day is also ideal for producing maple syrup. As the mercury rises sap begins flowing from the tap for 8 to 15 hours until temperatures approach freezing after sunset. The season can run from February (downstate) through the end of April in the Upper Peninsula. A SYRUP-TITIOUS AFFAIR Waffles, French toast and the aforementioned flapjacks may be most immediately associated with maple syrup but behind the closed doors of production floors around the region, northern Michigan’s distillers, mead makers and brewers are tapping into something magical. What for years has been the perfect accent to a balanced breakfast is now an ingredient that can help Happy Hour live up to its name. “These people have made a terrible mistake.” Scott Griner, a fifth generation maple syrup producer at the Griner Family Sugar Bush, confessed to Iron Fish’s Richard Anderson that this is what he told his wife after their first visit to the distillery located at the crossroads

of Dzuibanek Road and the middle of nowhere. Those understandable concerns at the time have long since been quenched with the popularity of Iron Fish's spirits and expansion of his own business as a result.

It’s Griner’s syrup that fills the barrels in which Iron Fish ages its bourbon. What started with a purchase of 25 gallons has grown to 18 barrels, that hold 25–40 gallons each. It’s three years before a batch of the award-winning bourbon is ready for store shelves, that last year or so resting in barrels that used to hold maple syrup. Supporting local farms and operating sustainably is what Iron Fish is all about which means once the syrup is done soaking those barrels it is bottled up to be used for breakfast – available in their tasting room and at the resort in the Mountain Market. Right Brain Brewery in Traverse City has a reputation for creative experimentation in line with its mission to “keep beer curious.” They make a 9.3% ABV barley wine with maple syrup from Blue Patch Farms in Kingsley. The North Shore Iron Works Barley Wine is named after the company of the same name that occupies space in the same building as the brewery – pretty convenient when you need a welder. Just up the road from Crystal Mountain, St. Ambrose Cellars uses local maple syrup in its most popular mead. They call the X.R. Cyser, “apple pie in a bottle” and produce 6,000 to 8,000 gallons a year. Much like making sap to syrup, the process to create the carbonated draft–style mead is one that can’t be rushed, in their case taking about 2.5 months. Honey, apple and cinnamon are blended with maple syrup with the delicious end product just seven miles away from the mountain on South Pioneer Road. From breakfast nooks to wet bars, cookouts to cocktails, the limits of maple syrup are bound only by creativity. You might experience such inspiration at Crystal Spa with the Barrel Aged Body Scrub featuring body oils infused with Iron Fish spirits or on the next page with a decadent panna cotta recipe. CRYSTALMOUNTAIN.COM | MOUNTAIN LIFE | WINTER 2018/19

15


I N V E S T

I N

Y O U R

next great adventure.

Claim a place of your own at Crystal and watch the memories unfold. From condos and townhomes to resort homes and homesites, there’s a little piece of Crystal for everyone. Come explore the latest ownership opportunities at Crystal today, with the folks that know Crystal the best.

CRYSTA LMOU N TA IN R EA LT Y.COM 800. 968. 2911

HalfPageAd.indd 1

10/1/2018 11:46:48 AM


“NEW FASHIONED� PANNA COTTA* (SMOOTH VANILLA CUSTARD AND IRON FISH BOURBON CHERRIES)

SMOOTH VANILLA CUSTARD

OLD FASHIONED CHERRIES

Serves 6 to 8 Serve in coupe glass or similar

1

4

cups heavy cream

K

cup granulated sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste (or pure vanilla extract) 4 teaspoons unflavored powdered gelatin K

cup cold water

Heat heavy cream and sugar in a saucepan until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla bean paste. Sprinkle the gelatin over the cold water in a medium sized bowl and let stand for 5-10 minutes to soften. Pour the warm panna cotta mixture over the gelatin and stir until the gelatin is completely dissolved and let it cool slightly. Divide the panna cotta mixture into individual serving dishes. Refrigerate for 6 or more hours.

pound pitted sweet cherries

O

cup sugar

K

cup water

SALTED MAPLE OLD FASHIONED

1 tablespoon fresh squeezed lemon juice 2

cinnamon sticks

1

pinch of allspice

K Bar spoon (N oz) of maple syrup 2-3 dashes of Aromatic Bitters

Zest of 1 fresh orange (best to use a micro plane) 2

pinches of nutmeg

1

teaspoon vanilla bean paste

O cups Iron Fish Bourbon Finished in Maple Syrup Barrels Wash and pit the cherries. Combine everything except the cherries and bourbon in a saucepan. Bring ingredients to a boil. When it starts to boil, reduce the heat to medium. Add pitted cherries and bourbon, simmer for 8 minutes. Refrigerate uncovered until completely chilled allowing the condensation to escape.

2 ounces Iron Fish Bourbon Finished in Maple Syrup Barrels Build in glass, ice and stir until chilled. Garnish with five salt flakes and an orange twist. This drink also tastes great with Iron Fish Experimental Barrel Finished Gin.

* This dessert is gluten free

CRYSTALMOUNTAIN.COM | MOUNTAIN LIFE | WINTER 2018/19

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Be the Change Next to meteorologists, farmers and sailors there may be no group more attuned to the weather than skiers, especially those who work in the business. The ski industry realized early it was a canary in the coal mine as far as climate change is concerned. With a front row seat to the changing volatility of the weather and self-aware of its need for energy to operate, as is true for the entirety of our global economy, the industry has been active in seizing opportunities for cleaner, more sustainable ways of doing business. The National Ski Areas Association’s (NSAA) Climate Challenge and Protect Our Winters are among the most prominent initiatives to both establish best practices in sustainability and advocate their virtue to encourage others to contribute to the solution. Crystal Mountain has participated in both programs, committed to doing its part to ‘be the change’ while understanding there is much more yet to be done. Just as there is no single answer to this complex problem, no one single person or business can solve it alone. As a means to further promote these critical efforts, each year the NSAA, in partnership with SKI magazine, recognizes three ski areas for their commitment to sustainability. A ceremony for 25th Annual Golden Eagle

Awards was held this past May in which Crystal Mountain was awarded the Climate Change Impact Award, the very first in this category. “The first of our core values as a company is to respect, serve and sustain our people and the environment,” says Chris MacInnes, Crystal Mountain president. “It’s not only an honor to be recognized with this award but an affirmation that we are on the right track.” Most prominently among the efforts cited by SKI and the NSAA was the resort’s commitment to investing in and advocating for the virtues of clean energy. In fall of last year, Crystal completed a $12 million expansion to the Inn at the Mountain that uses geothermal heating and cooling and is powered by Cherryland Electric Cooperative which draws 56 percent of its energy from carbon-free sources. “It will operate approximately 48% more efficiently than a conventional system which will provide significant ecological and economic savings over the next two, three and four decades,” said Jim MacInnes, CEO. “We’ve always taken the long view, which has just as powerful an impact on our business as it does the environment.”

CRYSTALMOUNTAIN.COM | MOUNTAIN LIFE | WINTER 2018/19

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The Secret’s Out RECREATIONAL DIVERSITY ABOUNDS AND MICHIGAN LEGACY ART PARK STREWS OVER 40 PIECES OF SCULPTURE THROUGHOUT A WOODED, 30-ACRE PLOT THREADED BY ROLLING SNOWSHOE TRAILS WHERE THE SPIRALING WOOD BOARDS OF SAWPATH NO. 2 BY DAVID BARR SEEMED A FITTING DESCENDANT OF THE HARDWOODS ABOVE IT.” – New York Times, December 2017

The rest of the world is beginning to discover what we’ve known all along, there’s something special about winter in the mitten and very few things more so than Michigan Legacy Art Park. Last December the New York Times published an article by Elaine Glusac entitled: Searching for a Secret Ski Destination? Try Michigan. The story celebrates the light, fluffy powder produced by the Great Lakes, extolls the virtues of a Michigander’s commitment to elegant turns and reveals an experience diverse in activity from November to April. The Art Park was among the stops the writer made during her winter journey north. For the beginner, few winter sports are more easily accessible than snowshoeing, and Michigan Legacy Art Park now offers access to more than 50 unique works of art while doing so. Those staying at the resort receive a complimentary pass to its nearly two miles of trail as well as hundreds of acres to explore across the entire property.

Someone who has hiked the Art Park in the summer encounters an entirely different experience during the winter. Mother Nature and Old Man Winter collaborate on touch-ups to each of the sculptures, accenting some with snow and ice while concealing others entirely. The experience is unique from day to day, week to week, year to year. Guided snowshoe tours are offered on Sundays in January. Snowshoe rentals are available daily in the Park at Water’s Edge for those wishing to explore on their own. To get truly whisked away into the spirit of the holiday season, mark your calendar for the Winter Sounds concert featuring the Benzie Central Chamber Choir on December 15. For more information on Michigan Legacy Art Park visit michlegacyartpark.org.

CRYSTALMOUNTAIN.COM | MOUNTAIN LIFE | WINTER 2018/19

21


lou batori


cheers to lou BY BRIAN LAWSON

T

here I stood, a flatlander from northern Indiana. Boots on, skis and poles in hand and waiting for my instructor when up strolls a distinguished older gentleman in a red and white one-piece ski suit. In his signature Hungarian accent he wishes me good morning and asks if I’m heading out to ski. I tell him that I’m going to give it a try but it’s my first lesson. “It’s a wonderful sport,” he tells me and adds that he just finished making a few runs on the race course. When he prods me to guess his age I suggest mid-sixties. “I’m 87 years old,” he said with a wry smile and gleam in his eye. With that, Lou Batori wished me a good day and reassured me that I would enjoy it. Having lived nearly three decades without skiing I was more than a little apprehensive about how the day would unfold and skeptical as to whether it was something I might ever do again. The morning’s exchange with Lou stuck with me. There is no doubt that his infectious enthusiasm and inspiring story had an impact on me that day, however subtle. After all, if a man in his 80s is still ski racing then one in his late-20s should be able to make a few enjoyable turns down Emmy. Not only would I become a lifelong skier that day but just shy of a decade later, the director of public relations and editor of the magazine at that very resort. With each passing year I become more aware and appreciative of the people who have brushed against my life and nudged me down a path that has led to so many things for which I’m grateful. A path I might not have otherwise traveled. There are hundreds if not thousands with whom Lou had similar brushes over the span of his 107 years. Many of those people gathered behind the Lodge on a sunny day

last April to honor his memory. After a life that included travels from his birthplace of Hungary to the United States and all parts between, a degree from MIT and work on the Apollo Project, to name but a few of the highlights, Lou bid us his final farewell in March. He was honored during this ceremony by family and friends with a champagne toast, the drink in which he would frequently chase his apres ski martini, as told by friend George Petritz. The downhill trail upon which he so legendarily forged new NASTAR race divisions in his 80s, 90s and into the triple digits was renamed from Cheers to Cheers to Lou. Just a few weeks prior, NASTAR handed out the inaugural Lou Batori Award that will be given each year to the oldest NASTAR racer to compete at nationals. In his later years, Lou was known to hold court in the Clipper Café or Thistle Pub & Grille, always glad for the opportunity to share his stories and perspective. These same stories were recounted by friends and family in the Vista Lounge as part of this celebration of Lou's life and captured by Roger Littlepage for a short film that screened at select stops during the fall Warren Miller film tour in Michigan. Each person’s recollection of Lou was filled with heartfelt sentiment for a man who had an unquenchable thirst for life and only savored it more with the passing of time. Thanks Lou. For being the embodiment of the sport we love and a life well-lived. For being so generous with that for which you held so precious: Time. We’ll do our best to live our lives the way in which you skied for nearly a century, “pointing them downhill and letting them run.”

CRYSTALMOUNTAIN.COM | MOUNTAIN LIFE | WINTER 2018/19

23


The Artist’s Life

ONE OF CRYSTAL MOUNTAIN’S LONGEST SERVING SKI INSTRUCTORS, JOE DASIN, IS ALSO A MASTER IN SCULPTING METAL AND WOOD. HERE, THE CREATIVE VISION BEHIND “FIRST TRACKS” REVEALS HIS MOTIVATION FOR TEACHING AND HOW HE TURNED A PASSION FOR ART AND SKIING INTO A JOYFUL PROFESSION.

joe dasin

BY BOB BUTZ


n Northern Michigan, you meet plenty of artists. Writers and musicians, mostly. There are jewelry makers and painters, but not too many like Joe Dasin who use metal as their medium. Unlike writing poetry and learning to play guitar, there aren’t many schools or weekend workshops that teach average people how to cast and handle molten metal. So ask Dasin—How does one even become a metal sculptor in Northern Michigan?—and he’ll straight up tell you: it all started with chickens. “In 1970, my parents moved the family to Interlochen from west side of Detroit with the idea they were going to live up north and start a chicken farm.” Dasin was quite young at the time. He doesn’t remember the details, only that the chicken thing didn’t really work out - although his studio is still in that barn. But the family stayed in northern Michigan, and like most local kids, he eventually discovered skiing. “It was on a trip to Crystal Mountain when I was 13. I learned to ski from a family member, which makes me cringe now that I’m an instructor. I know now it’s really not the best way to learn.” LIFE IMITATES ART Dasin’s been an instructor at Crystal since 2005, but he took a circuitous route to get here. In high school, he discovered he had a knack for working with metal. There was something about the process he loved, the learning of new skills and the constant improvement of his craft. “So I took metal classes at night at Northwestern Michigan College. And then—just in case the sculpting thing didn’t work out—I became a machine and tool major at the college after I graduated.” Like any scrappy, young artist trying to make a living, Dasin’s early work life was a patchwork of odd jobs. He ran the art show circuit every weekend in the summer, selling everything from original jewelry, belt buckles and cabinet hardware to candleholders and intricate bronze castings for churches. “And my degree, combined with my interest in sculpture, set me up perfectly for a weekday job making gold teeth and dental bridges at Baker Dental Laboratory in Traverse City. Working as a cabinet-maker I learned

about the properties of wood which is what many of my sculptures are made from.” When Dasin looks back on it now, he laughs at the artfulness of how these seemingly random experiences in his life have brought him back to the place he started. An encounter last ski season, really brought the idea home. “Last year, I was working with a new group of instructors at the resort and came to find out that I had actually taught one of them to ski when he was 3.” MAKING FIRST TRACKS When Crystal Mountain’s Chris MacInnes approached Dasin about commissioning some original artwork for eight suites at The Inn, Dasin had an idea. “A lot of resorts just take skis and put them on the wall. I wanted to do something different—something that represented the history of the Michigan ski industry and also served as a tribute of respect to early people who skied.” As with most of Dasin’s artwork, “First Tracks” began with a wood model. Most of the time, it’s a wood carving of whatever Dasin envisions. But with “First Tracks” the old-style skis he made for the casting block were actually real. “I had to learn about and use the same ski-making techniques they used in the 40s,” recalls Dasin. “And through that process, I got a new respect for people who skied back then. To be able to ski on the heavy, cumbersome equipment they had—it’s really incredible. I really think that earlier skiers were better athletes.” Whether talking sculpting or skiing, revelations like this are what Dasin enjoys most about the learning process. A lifelong love of learning and the drive to become a better ski racer and instructor is what lured him back to Crystal Mountain over a decade ago. “I wanted to learn about ski racing and advance my certification to become a better teacher. So it was a win-win. And I’m still learning. Still going to clinics and workshops and every year to the PSIA National Academy where they show instructors new ways to teach, new equipment trends—all of that feeds my desire to be the best I can be.”

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THANKSGIVING RECONNECT NOVEMBER 22-25 There are so many reasons to return to the Mountain to reunite with family and friends including the Turkey Vulture Trot, Thanksgiving Day Buffet as well as the Holiday Trail (Friday) and First Light (Saturday) Celebrations! NEW YEAR’S EVE DECEMBER 31 Launch the New Year with a spectacular torchlight parade and fireworks display while ushering it in with an evening of food, drink, dance and entertainment for every member of the family. FAT CHANCE FAT TIRE BIKE RACE JANUARY 20 How many laps can you turn in 90 minutes? Test your speed and endurance on two miles of twisting trail (with minimal elevation change). MARDI GRAS AT THE MOUNTAIN MARCH 2 Let the good times roll throughout the month of March starting with a day of Cajun cuisine, costume and live entertainment. SPRING CARNIVAL MARCH 9 A daring dash of duct tape and cardboard. A spectacular slide across a pool of slush. Two great events paired with live music, food, friends and family makes for a great Saturday. CELTS + KAYAKS MARCH 16 Don’t be left green with envy, come out for downhill kayak races followed by a St. Patrick’s Day celebration with green beer, good food and live music. RETRO WEEKEND MARCH 23 Roll back the clock with a vintage costume and a classic karaoke contest under the big tent! SPRING BREAK MARCH 24 – APRIL 7 With Mother Nature’s permission we’ll ski through April 7 but the Edge Adventure Course, Paintball Biathlon, bounce houses, camp fires, magic shows and pool parties will provide more than enough activity for two weeks of Spring Break.


EVENTS

WINTER 2018-2019 EVENTS CALENDAR

November 16

Crystal Spa Holiday Open House

22-25

Thanksgiving Reconnect Weekend

22 Open for Skiing and Snowboarding (conditions permitting)

20 Snowshoe Tour, Michigan Legacy Art Park 20

Fat Chance Fat Tire Bike Race

27 Snowshoe Tour, Michigan Legacy Art Park

February

22

14th Annual Turkey Vulture Trot 5K

22

Thanksgiving Day Buffet

9-10

NASTAR Midwest Championships

23-25

Ski & Snowboard Sale

14

Valentine’s Day

23

Holiday Trail Celebration

16

Teddy Knape Fest

24

First Light Celebration

17

Paintball Biathlon

December

March

2

5 for $50 Sunday

2

Mardi Gras on the Mountain

9

5 for $50 Sunday

9

Spring Carnival

15 Winter Sounds Concert, Michigan Legacy Art Park

11-15

Canadian Break

16

Celts + Kayaks

16

5 for $50 Sunday

17

5 for $50 Sunday

22-24

Holiday Race Camp

23-24

NASTAR Medalist Weekend

24

Ski with Santa

23

Retro Weekend

24

Christmas Eve Buffet

24

Spring Break Begins!

25

Christmas Day Buffet

24

5 for $50 Sunday

26-28

Holiday Race Camp

31

5 for $50 Sunday

29

Ski & Snowboard Demo Day

31

New Year’s Eve Celebration

January NATIONAL LEARN TO SKI & SNOWBOARD MONTH

April 1 - May 19

Crystal Spa Days

7 Last Day of the Ski and Snowboard Season - 5 for $50 Sunday

NATIONAL SAFETY AWARENESS MONTH

1 Registration opens for North Mitten Half-Marathon, 10K & 5K 5 Winter Trails Day (cross-country, snowshoe & fat tire bike) 6 Snowshoe Tour, Michigan Legacy Art Park 13 Snowshoe Tour, Michigan Legacy Art Park 20

World Snow Day

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FROM LEFT TO RIGHT: MO WHITE, PAT MOORE, TOM DAWSON

A SHARED PASSION FOR THE OUTDOORS AND STAYING IN SHAPE. A CHANCE MEETING AT CRYSTAL MOUNTAIN. THROW IN A LITTLE OFF-THE-GRID ADVENTURE AND, ACCORDING TO THESE GUYS, YOU GOT THE MAKINGS OF A BEAUTIFUL FRIENDSHIP.


So this dentist, a mechanical contractor and an outfitter decide to go fishing in Alaska… Tom Dawson, Maurice White, and Pat Moore are the first to admit: to most people it probably sounds like the setup for some kind of joke, not the way to spend some quality time with friends. Nowadays, people have a lot to say about friendship. Researchers actually spent time and money to discover— and this may come as a shock—that most of your friends on Facebook aren’t really your friends in real life. Deep friendships, especially among older men the studies

say, are made through periods of intense engagement. Real experiences of the sort you find on a weeklong fishing float trip down the Wiluk River, 150 miles above the Arctic Circle. “It’s so far north there were musk oxen. There were grizzly bears. Everywhere we pitched our tents we found tracks,” recalls Tom Dawson. “And the swarms of mosquitoes—the Alaska state bird—were a constant. In six days floating 80 miles of river, we never saw another soul. Mo lost 11 pounds. Pat lost 16. It was the best trip we ever had.”

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FOUR SEASONS FRIENDS Tom Dawson, 71, tried retiring from dentistry three years ago. After running his own practice in Tawas for almost two decades, he decided to sell and move to the Mountain Woods vacation house at Crystal that he and his wife purchased 26 years ago. “I got tremendously bored being retired,” he recalls. “So I started working one day every week at My Community Dental Center, a local nonprofit that serves Medicaid patients and the uninsured. Pretty soon I was back to my old hours, working every day. Mo and Linda were actually the ones who told me to take at least one day off every week.” Maurice “Mo” White, 72, co-founded D&W Mechanical in 1986. He, too, had a home at Mountain Woods. The soon-to-be friends had lived parallel lives. Both started hunting

and fishing as boys. Both had successful careers and, after discovering a sense of community among the residents at Crystal Mountain, decided to donate some of their time to serving causes like the Michigan Legacy Art Park. “Tom and I both worked out regularly at the Peak Fitness Center,” says White. “It was a couple years after I bought a cabin on a 70-acre property just south of Crystal Mountain. I asked Tom if he’d like to come deer hunting there sometime. And that’s how we finally met my next-door neighbor, Pat.” Pat Moore, 53, also kept in shape at the Peak Fitness Center in the off-season. A guide and outfitter for 35 years, Moore owned an Orvis shop in Avon, Colorado, before moving to Northern Michigan in 1995. Guiding trout, salmon and steelhead river-fishing trips, he eventually moved into the outfitting business,

organizing wilderness-fishing trips to Alaska and, eventually, big-game hunts in the mountains of Chili. “I used to see Tom and Mo around at the club at Crystal. And, as it turned out, I lived next door to Mo for seven years and didn’t know it until that day he and Tom came out of the woods and knocked on my door.” Dawson and White had been out scouting for deer and got turned around. They emerged from the woods on Moore’s wooded parcel and decided to say hello. The three laugh about that first meeting now, how Moore later confessed he thought his soon-to-be friends were selling something. “But then they introduced themselves, and we had so much in common we immediately hit it off.”

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THE CALL OF THE WILD Nothing binds new friends together like some good old fashion adventure. In the three years since the trio met, Dawson and White have hunted numerous times together. And when Moore started regaling them over cocktails with stories of bush planes and river fishing for searun salmon, wild grayling and Dolly Varden (a trout-like salmonid), on Alaskan’s remote Wulik River, the friends decided to set a date. “Tom and I had taken an elk hunt in New Mexico,” says White. “We didn’t get an elk on that trip, but we had such a great time we booked another in Colorado in 2018. When Pat invited us to float the Wulik with him, it sounded too good to pass up.” The three spent months planning the excursion until the day came to rendezvous in Anchorage, last August. From there, they chartered another plane to a remote village north of the Arctic Circle, then piled everything from an inflatable fishing raft to a week’s worth of camping gear—into the confines of a couple Cessna 206s

for the final leg of the journey that landed them on a bumpy gravel bar 80 miles further north. “It’s thrilling going into remote places,” says White. “But the planning and preparation leading up to it—even the hard work we put in at the gym to get ready for a wilderness hunt or a fishing trip—is just as fun.” Dawson agrees. “The three of us talked almost every day, planning everything. Even the weight of the gear we took on the planes was planned down to the ounce. To save space, we even filled the hollow handle of a landing net with some whiskey to drink. The fun is in all the little things like that.” With Moore manning the oars, the three wound up floating for six wonderful days without seeing another fisherman. Only one day of torrential rain kept them inside the tents. The rest of the time was spent floating and catching hundreds of fish: Dolly Varden, Arctic char, Arctic grayling, pink and chum salmon. Evenings they ate fresh fish cooked over an

open campfire then sat telling stories, drinking shots out of the landing net and laughing as they looked at the stars. “I guess we’re old men,” says Dawson. “But on these trips, we’re like little boys again. And I guess that’s really what it’s all about—having great friends to share great adventures with and, later, to have stories from these experiences only we share.” Pat Moore is the go-to guide and outfitting service for Crystal Mountain guests and residents interested in guided river fishing trips for trout, trophy salmon and steelhead. Moore Outfitters also offers fishing opportunities in Alaska, Honduras and New Zealand along with hunting adventures in Chili. For more information, look him up on Facebook or check out his webpage at www.mooreoutfitters.com. For more information on Crystal Mountain's Four Seasons Club, visit crystalmountain.com or contact Marcus Matthews at ext. 3354 or by email at fourseasonsclub@crystalmountain.com.

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Few things spark more creativity on a Saturday morning in March than duct tape, cardboard and snow. The three culminate in a spectacle of speed and design each year on the second weekend of March. There is most definitely benefit to thinking outside the box before climbing into one at race time. The great Pablo Picasso said, “Good artists copy, great artists steal.” So here’s some inspiration from some of the classics of The Cardboard Classic (March 9).

DID YOU KNOW? Duct Tape was invented by Johnson & Johnson during World War II. Soldiers originally called it “Duck” Tape because the water rolled off it like a duck’s back. It has a pressure-sensitive adhesive, the same principle that allows geckos to stick to walls. In 1998, a study by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory found that duct tape in fact WAS NOT the best type to seal ducts. Actually using it on ductwork is now considered a code violation in many buildings.


MAYHEM IN MARCH March Madness isn’t reserved to the basketball court alone. When the snow’s good and sun’s out, it’s a perfect time to hit the slopes and then stick around for the after party. Every Saturday features something different with a special bonus coming this April! MARDI GRAS ON THE MOUNTAIN, MARCH 2 The annual Mardi Gras celebration is always a good way to get things rolling in March. Chef Bryant Betts summons the skills he learned in New Orleans’ French Quarter to provide the authentic Cajun cuisine. Come in costume, collect some beads and let the good times roll! SPRING CARNIVAL, MARCH 9 Not to be confused with Carnaval do Brasil, this Saturday features cardboard sleds parading up and down the slopes. Skiers and snowboarders round out the day trying to avoid getting all wet in the Slush Cup before wetting their whistles during a live concert under the big top! CELTS & KAYAKS, MARCH 16 Celebrate St. Patrick a day early. The proud tradition of the downhill kayak race begs the question, should we rename it St. Paddle’s Day? There will be plenty of Irish jigs, green beer and food to be had along with live music by Brena Band to finish the night. RETRO WEEKEND, MARCH 23 For one person it might be Michael Jackson’s sequin glove. Another might come dressed as Elvis. Retro is all relative so whether your choice is a Swatch watch or neon one-piece ski suit, come ready to have fun. If you really want to jump in the wayback machine, join us for the Retro Karaoke Contest under the big tent. AN EXTRA WEEK! NO APRIL FOOLIN’ Crystal Mountain will keep the lifts running an extra week (until April 7) this winter – pending the cooperation of Old Man Winter and Mother Nature of course. Guests staying overnight from March 25 through April 6 ski for FREE. Regardless of the weather, Crystal has a full week of off-slope activities from Laser Tag and the Edge Adventure Course to pool parties in celebration of Spring Break!

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ROOFTOP TERRACE | LUXLIGHT PHOTOGRAPHY | VISIT ONLINE: LUXLIGHTPHOTOGRAPHY.NET


Atop a Trend

omething as special as a wedding day deserves a backdrop that complements the beauty of the moment. Over the last decade, Crystal Mountain has been the backdrop of more than 400 weddings. The arch at Petritz Pond and amphitheater at Art Park elegantly frame a ceremony among family and friends while the property’s more panoramic scenery is unlike anywhere. It’s also the focus of a burgeoning trend in which the resort’s vistas are being chosen for more than just the exchange of vows.

a long, exquisitely decorated table under bluebird skies. Among the signatures of this reception was an open-air tepee structure donned in bistro lights that provided a space for guests to socialize and admire the stars as dusk gave way to night.

The wedding of Sarah Power and Travis Linderman received national recognition in The Knot’s Summer 2018 article entitled, "Fantastical Forest." The ceremony and reception held at Crystal’s Stone Road venue is among the most elaborate ever held at the resort. Their choice for a rehearsal dinner was just as distinctive. A wedding party of over 50 people gathered at the top of the mountain for a family-style dinner, emphasis on the word style. The long days for which the region is known provide ample time for dinner, capped off with a brilliant sunset into the Betsie Valley.

The completion of Crystal Mountain’s most recent expansion, the Inn Residences, provides its own set of possibilities. The hotel’s rooftop terrace offers yet another option for more intimate wedding ceremonies and receptions. Already fashioned with its own bar, the space can accommodate a reception of around 70 people and a dinner for approximately 40. To the west there is an expansive view of the green slopes and in all other directions the quaint village, each even more vibrantly decorated by the changing colors in late September and throughout October.

“It was an incredible evening and really a tribute to the creativity and versatility of our team who impeccably coordinated the event,” said Carmen Kott, wedding and special events manager.

Whether atop the Inn or slopes themselves, Crystal’s elevation certainly plays a part in heightening one of life’s most treasured moments. If you would like more information about weddings at the mountain please contact Carmen Kott at 231.378.2038.

“The top of the mountain has always been a popular choice for ceremonies but this was the first reception we’ve hosted,” said Kott. “Laura and David gave us a new vision of what is possible in that space.”

An equally inspiring reception was held at mountain top this past July. Laura Barnett and David Gardner said their “I-dos” under the amphitheater at the Michigan Legacy Art Park before riding the Crystal Clipper chairlift to the top of the mountain for an evening reception. Dinner sat wedding guests across from one another on

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ROOFTOP TERRACE | LUXLIGHT PHOTOGRAPHY | VISIT ONLINE: LUXLIGHTPHOTOGRAPHY.NET


TOP OF THE MOUNTAIN

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greg babinec


A MASTER IN THE GAME CALLED LIFE

Greg Babinec powers across the still dewy grass at the Crystal Mountain learning center just as the sun is emerging from the morning mist. He's on a mission to get the range set up before his morning lesson, but he pauses appreciatively when he sees a visitor taking a picture of the forest and rolling fairway. “I have a pretty great office, don't I?” he notes, laugh lines deepening. He hoists a club rack over his head setting it into position on the practice range, and then another, each a safe six paces apart. Come winter, he's often starting in this same spot, readying for a cross-country ski lesson or setting out to groom trails amid a view of snow drooping from pines that he says you have to see to believe. Crystal's “Man of All Seasons” is one to stop and smell the roses as he walks the fairway of life—as a favorite Ben Hogan quote goes—but his whiffs generally come while in continual motion and while juggling the activities of multiple seasons at once. Babinec is both Crystal's cross country ski manager and its head golf professional, not to mention the Michigan PGA’s 2018 Professional of the Year. While cross country skiing is in full swing, he's grooming trails, teaching and coordinating while also ordering golf equipment, setting fees and scheduling groups. While he's checking golfers in for tee times, he's dreaming up ways to make the coming ski season even better than the last. And he wouldn't have it any other way, he notes, quoting another favorite saying: “When you rest, you rust.” This between-season day will reach a sunny 74, but the chilly 49 degree start portends the day not far off when he'll be starting his day on a snowmobile, not golf cart. Today, he's working with his friend Charlie, positioning the tall golfer's backswing to help him get better contact with the club. “Great one!” he says, as the ball soars especially straight, though every utterance feels supportive. Relentlessly positive is how colleague and PGA pro Brandon Dean describes his boss—with staff or clients. “He's very outgoing and happy—all the time.” And that's no accident. “My goal,” Babinec says with a mischievous grin, “is to educate those out here on what it takes to have more fun. I'm the fun police.”

Back at his indoor office, he thumbs through his morning mail and finds three thank-you notes for times he's gone beyond or somehow shared his trademark generosity. He pulls out a map of existing cross-country ski trails; one of the day's goals it to do a little rerouting, and then he motions toward the two, still packaged, solar lamps he's hoping are bright enough that solar lighting can replace electricity on the resort's mile of lighted trails and further support the resort's strong commitment to environmental sustainability. The lights sit amid golf trophies and bags, a ski crossing sign and mountain bike. That he was born on 10/10—“All Sports Day” in Japan—is surely no coincidence. He met his wife Etsuko when, early in his career, she was one of the 53 Japanese women enrolled in a Ferris State Program for potential golf pros, and he was hired to teach. They've since married and had three beloved—and sports-oriented—kids. “I grew up playing every possible sport I could, and if I wasn't working, I was golfing,” says Babinec. “When I take up anything, I tend to jump in with both feet. I have four bikes.” What stands out amid 61 years of athletic endeavors, though, was a grueling cycling race from one side of Michigan to the other—12 hours of effort in a cold headwind the entire way. As many of the other racers dropped out, he powered ahead and came in fourth. “It was the hardest endurance event I've ever done other than battle cancer,” he said. And there's a correlation with the way he approached a devastating diagnosis that came just a few months after his wedding. “For a super long bike race, you train, you train, you train,” he said. “When you've decided you're going to do it, you get through it.” Just as importantly, surviving cancer taught him something about how to approach sports—and life—with a bit more of an attitude of “It's just a game,” he says, even if it's an especially hard game. “I think that probably what I learned from it is to dwell more about what I may have done well during a round of golf or during a bike ride instead of the ways I failed,” he said. “It's not how many times you get down. It's how many times you get up.”

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there is a lesson, turn, turn, turn A time to pizza, a time to fries. A time to ski, a time to ride. A time for the glades, a time to hit the park. For argument’s sake, let’s just call this “the forgotten verse” of the Byrds hit that went all the way to number one on the Billboard Top 100 in 1965. Before any of us begin to turn, turn, turn on the snow, whether it’s for the first time ever or in preparation of a first trip to bigger elevations and more vertical, there is a lesson specifically designed to help. Crystal Mountain has been helping people embrace the winter season for more than 60 years. It’s a journey. With any journey you need to know where to start and where to go next. The beauty of this road map is that the destination is a lifelong pursuit of snow and all the possibility it holds. ADVENTURE CUBS And so it begins. This program (half-day and full-day) for children 3-6 is one part skiing, one part graham crackers and hot chocolate and all of it fun. It’s about having a positive experience in the snow and building a love for it while learning the basics of pizza and fries. The Cubs Ski & Care version can be a good start for kids not quite ready to spend their entire lesson on skis. CRYSTAL KIDS For many this is an introduction to the sport but it can also be the next step to explore new skills and terrain. Designed for kids ages 7 to 12 and tailored to their skiing ability, Crystal Kids helps new skiers with the basics in Totem Park and then takes them to the chairlifts and beginner terrain eventually advancing to intermediate trails, but only when they’re comfortable and ready. BURTON ADVENTURE RIDERS Some kids were born to ride. This program gets kids as young as four years old on a snowboard thanks to special equipment from Burton designed to ease and accelerate the learning process. The lesson takes place in the Riglet Park, a flat course in Totem Park where the instructor pulls the student through bumps and banks

to learn balance and technique. Much like with Crystal Kids, once the student reaches age seven they’re ready for Crystal Riders. LEARN-TO-TURN Above all know this; you are never too old to learn. The Learn-to-Turn group program pairs people of like age and skill level together from the gentle slopes and surface lifts of Totem Park to the greens and blues serviced by Crystal’s six chairlifts. And if a snowboard is more your speed, the Burton Learn-to-Ride program is perfectly geared for you. PRIVATE Group lessons are a great way to meet friends and get started on the snow but there comes a point when it’s time to start refining, even testing your skills. You can reserve anywhere from an hour to a full day with one of Crystal’s PSIA (Professional Ski Instructors of America) or AASI (American Association of Snowboard Instructors) instructors that is tailored specifically to you or your child’s goals. MASTER THE MOUNTAIN Meet at the Mountain Adventure Zone every Friday in February (6pm) for these “next level” clinics focused on carving, navigating ungroomed terrain, tactics to tackle moguls and racing the NASTAR course. RETIRED, NOT TIRED Skiing and snowboarding is a lifelong sport. Don’t believe it? Stop by Crystal on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Beginning January 8, these off- and on-slope lessons and clinics ($39 per lesson) for skiers age 50 and older count toward the purchase of a season pass. Here’s the thing: Once you’ve clicked into those bindings or buckled down on a board and glided even a few feet, you’re part of a greater community. A circle of friends that embrace the snow, don’t wait until spring to get outdoors or see age as an obstacle. It’s all simply part of the journey, turn, turn, turn. For more details on all of these programs visit ‘The Mountain’ section at crystalmountain.com.

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fisher good boy


crystal 's golden boy

T

he job description could read as such: Requires love of outdoor activity in every season, frequent naps, snacks and patiently embracing the affection of customers and colleagues. Must have a warm, welcoming disposition. Modeling experience and ability to fetch a plus. Honestly, it’s the best job at Crystal Mountain. Fisher was born to do it. The six-year-old Golden Retriever accepted the position as Crystal’s first K9 Ambassador last spring and has quickly risen through the ranks of the resort’s most popular employees. Sharing a space with his owner Jeff Rabidoux in the real estate office just off the lobby of the Inn, Fisher is among the first to greet guests as they arrive at check-in. “Fisher passed the AKC Good Citizen Test and Super Advanced Obedience Training, he’s definitely a people dog,” says Rabidoux who’s had Fisher since he was a pup. “We know that not everyone is comfortable with dogs so I monitor the lobby and if need be, he’ll come right back to the office when called.” Of course, that’s the exception to the rule. Shouts of, “Fisher!” from excited young children (and adults) can be heard throughout the day as they approach to give pets and hugs, all of which he lovingly accepts. Fisher is a professional, very engaging while always careful to go no farther than the lobby stairs unless given the go-ahead by Jeff. It’s far from just being a desk job. You’ll find him and Jeff frequently roaming the grounds and making appearances at special events, often capturing those moments on camera for Fisher’s Instagram account, resortK9. If ever there was a face that screamed spokesmodel, it’s this one. And it’s in demand.

Fisher’s handsome mug also graces the label of a wine bottle. A conversation with the owner of Glen Arbor Wines, Lissa Edwards, inspired the wine “Lake Dog.” Aptly named for this dog who loves to swim in Fisher Lake, the same one he’s named after and where he lives today. “I was given the choice of it being a Chardonnay or a sparkling wine called a Grüner Veltliner,” said Jeff. “I thought a bubbly fit Fisher’s personality just perfectly.” Due to the instant popularity of the bottle, this winter Glen Arbor Wines plans to introduce "Snow Dog" with a snow-covered Fisher adorning the label. As if all that wasn’t impressive enough, he’s also contributing to science. Fisher is participating in the Golden Retriever Lifetime Study by the Morris Animal Foundation, the largest, most comprehensive prospective canine health study in the United States. The study’s mission is to identify nutritional, environmental, lifestyle and genetic risk factors for, among others, cancer, one that impacts 60% of golden retrievers. When he’s not out trying to change the world, Fisher spends his time just being a dog. Like most folks up north, he loves being in the water, jumping off the dock or bow of a boat, retrieving a Frisbee or diving for rocks which he proudly brings to his owner. During the winter months he’s known to charge through snow drifts and sift through fresh powder to fetch a ball. Whatever the time of year, bacon is his favorite food but always in moderation. If Fisher’s not in the real estate office you can leave a note in his mailbox, although you’ll find him there most days. He is a hard working dog. A kind soul. A beloved co-worker. A selfless contributor to the greater good. Most of all, he’s just a good, good boy.

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WINTER LOOKBOOK A E

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WE KNOW YOU’RE GEARED UP FOR WINTER BUT ARE YOU ‘GEARED UP’ FOR WINTER? THE SHOPS AT CRYSTAL MOUNTAIN ARE FULL OF ITEMS HIGH IN FASHION AND FUNCTION TO HELP YOU MAKE THE MOST OF PURE MICHIGAN’S SIGNATURE SEASON.

KEEPING KIDS WARM, DRY AND VISIBLE HAS NEVER BEEN SO STYLISH: (A) Boys Karbon Axel Jacket (B) Karbon Kids Caliper Pant (C) Karbon Element Pant (D) Karbon Kids Kuna Pant (E) Kari Traa Winter Pom Beanie

THERE’S ALSO PLENTY OF GREAT APPAREL FOR THE ‘BIG KIDS’ TOO: (F) Karbon Women's Particle Jacket (G) Karbon Women’s Reaction Pant (H) Women’s Smartwool Vest (I) O'Neill Women's Coral Jacket (J) Karbon Men’s Jupiter Jacket (K) Ouray Men’s ¼ Zip Fleece (L) Leki Elements Coppers Glove (M) Hestra Men’s Ski Cross Leather Glove


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ALL THAT’S LEFT IS TO SKI AS GOOD AS YOU LOOK WITH: (N) Atomic Vantage X83 Skis

APRÈS SKI, RAISE A TOAST AND STAY TOASTY ALL AT ONCE WITH: (R) Habitat Full-zip Women’s Jacket

(O) Atomic Vantage 90TI Skis (P) Atomic Hawx Magna Ski Boot (Q) POC Skull OrbitX FIS Race Helmet

(S) Suzy D Women’s Jacket (T) MV Sports Full-zip Hoodie (U) Magnolia Home Soy Candles (V) Sunset Hill Mug ( W) Silly Pint (X) Moscow Mule Copper Mug (Y) Handed By Bags (handmade from recycled materials)

The next time you’re at Crystal Mountain swing through Mountain Sports, Kinlochen, the Peak Boutique or Mountain Market for these items and more!

CRYSTALMOUNTAIN.COM | MOUNTAIN LIFE | WINTER 2018/19

47


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DESIGN TEMPLATE: 12oz Can Size: 202/211x413

301 Main Street Frankfort, Michigan 49635

FrankfortGardenTheater.com

BRILLIANT BITES

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COLOR 1 COLOR 2 COLOR 3

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StormcloudBrewing.com

303 MAIN | FRANKFORT, MI | 231.352.0118

Vacation Condominiums Luxury Whirlpool Suites | Motel Rooms Indoor Pool & Spa | Free WiFi Walking Distance to Shopping & Dining

231.352.9614 | 800.346.9614 | www.HarborLightsResort.net


12500 Crystal Mountain Drive Thompsonville, MI 49683-9742 888.976.4484

Book your reservation by calling 888.976.4484 crystalmountain.com

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Mountain Life Winter 2019  

A return to the ski hill on severance street / One ski instructor's artful journey / From happy hour to the arctic circle / Atop a trend, we...

Mountain Life Winter 2019  

A return to the ski hill on severance street / One ski instructor's artful journey / From happy hour to the arctic circle / Atop a trend, we...

Profile for mynorth