How does a neuroscientist from Louisiana end up a ski patroller in rural Virginia? My love affair with skiing began in parallel with another, even stronger, love affair, the one I share with my husband and partner, Nick. As a child, I never owned a winter coat warmer than a fleece, let alone went on a ski vacation. My senior year of college, I finally went on my first ski trip with my then boyfriend, Nick. It was love at first turn, and I couldn’t get enough. I felt like a little kid— it was a can’t sleep, can’t eat sort of love. Season after season, my love, along with my skill, grew stronger. Skiing became the pastime Nick and I enjoyed doing most together.
When he proposed taking an EMT course and becoming ski patrollers, I was nervous but all in. I thoug ht, “Could I really cut it as a patroller?” We spent that summer in EMT training, the excitement and glamour of the idea fading at times, as long hours in the classroom ticked away. I’ve always been the “dive right in” type, but not always the “follow through with ideas” type. The latter is Nick…the one who will see everything through until the very end. I think it’s the military in him; the Navy SEAL who never quits.
But with the fall that year came new excitement. We passed our National Registry Exam and were officially EMTs ready to take our OEC Modified Challenge course. With ski season right around the corner, we could not have been more excited. We dove in headfirst, learning all the skills necessary to keep people safe on the mountain. We immediately fell in love with the community—patrollers who were there for the love of each other and the sport. We had never been so immediately welcomed by an entire group before. We were so accustomed to the isolation of DC life that the open arms of the patrol shocked and amazed us. We were hooked.
One of the highlights of patrol for Nick and I has been seeing our own relationship evolve in the best possible way. Every season, we grow together as a professional team while enjoying time together. It’s easy to forget we’re married when we operate as seamless partners in stressful situations. I often find myself full of respect and admiration as Nick calmly and quickly manages serious injuries. In these moments, I know there is no one else in the world I would rather have by my side, both on the mountain and in life.
For me, patrolling is the release at the end of my week—the thing I look forward to the most. The patrol is my year-round summer camp—my work that feels like play. Working patrol gets us outside, brings us together, allows us to help others, and keeps us young. In the end, the patrol keeps us chasing the rush and excitement of childhood, and we cannot get enough.