In the Starting Gate

As we begin the 40th year of the Issaquah Ski and Snowboard School it takes me a moment to understand the magnitude of this milestone.  40 years, really?  Think about it — 40 years ago none of our incoming students were alive – heck, I wasn’t even alive – “snurfing” was the alternative activity to skiing, and a place called “Ski Acres” existed in the Cascades.  Throughout the last 40 years hundreds of people have learned to ski and snowboard with Issaquah Ski and Snowboard School.  40 years of past students all learning to love snow sports got me thinking about why? Why do we ski and snowboard?  Is it the exercise, the challenge, the chance to be outdoors, or something else?  For me, it is all about the people.

Nine years ago my wife (then girlfriend) told me about this wonderful organization called the Issaquah Ski School.  She said she had learned to ski from them in the 7th grade and she was now a chaperone for the ski school.  Then she gave me and ultimatum: if I was going to date her, let alone get any of her attention, I should become a chaperone with her and learn how to ski.  Skiing is what she did with her friends and family – it is what she loved.  I quickly agreed.

Shortly thereafter I put on my first pair of skis.  For eight weeks I listened and learned – I skied down Reggie’s Chair, I slid down Outback, and feared at the thought of Hog Wild.  But, she continued to encourage me and suddenly, I had completed my initial year with the Issaquah Ski School.  A couple months later she took me, with her family, on a ski vacation in Whistler, British Columbia – a ski vacation!  Yes, please…and by the end of it, I had fallen in love…with skiing – and maybe her.

Over the last 9 years we’ve continued to go on ski vacations in Whistler, and spent our honeymoon on the slopes in the Rockies, and just last week returned from Sun Peaks in Canada with friends.  For me, skiing is a lifelong activity that I can share with many wonderful people in my life.  And even better, every January anticipation and excitement returns as a new year begins at the Issaquah Ski and Snowboard School.

So, tomorrow morning as the first week of the 40th year of the Issaquah Ski and Snowboard School begins, I’m going to look around at our students and be excited about where this sport can take them.

It’s an honor and privilege to be part of this organization that strives to provide a fun, safe and affordable snow sport opportunity to our community for the last forty years, and for many years to come.


Ryan Clark, Issaquah Ski and Snowboard Council