Today’s interview is with Mark Framness, an IT professional who spends his spare time thinking and writing about skiing at The Wisconsin Skier.
If you could only ski at one resort this season, which resort would you choose?
Blackjack Ski Resort. Blackjack has good terrain and they take care of their snow. They have some runs that get fairly steep and they let some of these go “wild”. I am not a bump skier (yet) but they will groom those runs once in while and if I am there at the right time that means I get some runs on seriously steep territory. There is one run at Blackjack where I exceeded 60 mph.
Also, I really love being around the Hurley – Ironwood – Wakefield metropolitan area. These towns have a lot of ski buzz (and not just Alpine). The area is also home to one of the world’s largest ski jumps (although, currently, that venue is not operating).
What would make Blackjack even better?
Blackjack needs some on site hotel style lodging. They have condo and slopeside lodging, but I really enjoy staying at ski resort hotels, with all the amenities and possibilities they offer.
Any “secrets” you’re willing to share?
If you like speed the fast runs are on Shanty Boy. To get there, board the main chair in front of the main lodge. When you get off turn 180 degrees and bear left. Pole, skate, and tuck! About 2/3 the way down there is an inflection in the hill which will push back so be ready for that. Then it is time to start putting on the brakes.
Also, work your way over the right side of the trail map, where there are some fun runs. In addition, there are some areas where one can get some tree skiing in.
What about food?
Blackjack has a cafeteria on the main level of the lodge and, of course, there is dining in the bar upstairs. Both offer standard fare and being an adult I prefer the bar fare.
Where do you like to stay?
The hotel at the neighboring ski resort – the Indianhead Motel. It has a nice big hot tub. Need I say more?
What makes Blackjack unique?
In addition to the terrain, which suits my abilities just fine, they run dirt cheap season pass specials. For the 2013-2014 season they will be offering $99 season passes!
What is your favorite memory of Blackjack?
The 60 mph run. I turned MyTracks on and then skated, poled, and tucked. I hit the “inflection” and could really feel the hill’s compression. I held my tuck a bit more and then popped up and started to skid to slow down. When I checked the app, it said something like 59.6 mph! Of course, I was amazed at how fast I was moving but more important I was very happy with the way I was able to pop up and re-establish control (schussing is an in-control/out-of-control situation).
Where did you learn to ski?
It took three distinct tries before the love of skiing took hold. My folks took me to Hidden Valley (near Maribel, Wisconsin) when I was tottish. I barely remember that and my folks were both skiers at that time, although not very enthusiastic skiers.
Then when I was in high school, Dad and I would hit Hidden Valley. Still, the bug did not bite deeply enough.
Finally, when I was in the United Arab Emirates working as a teacher, my brother and father started skiing regularly (along with another friend who had always skied), in a serious way. When I returned, I joined along and this time the bug bit well enough. That was in ’98. I was in my early 30s at that time.
What is your favorite thing about skiing?
Having something to pull me outdoors during the winter! Prior to skiing I would sit around and then in February or March the fishing catalogs would come in and it would make the winter really drag on.
Now, the winter comes too slowly and leaves too quickly (although bicycling is helping to even that out).
Being active. This impulse is in all of us. However, in far too many of us the impulse to be active is completely squelched when we leave high school (if video games do not squelch it before then).
That spark is alive in me again. Skiing draws me out and makes me active outdoors.
The Brave Ski Mom Adds…
Thanks so much Mark!
As I was looking at the Blackjack website, a few things immediately caught my eye. First, kids 12 & under ski free with the purchase of an adult lift ticket. You don’t need to book lodging or a multi-day pass, just one adult and one kid and you’re good to go.
Secondly, lift tickets are very affordable. For adults, the rate is $40 if you buy in advance online, $31 for a half day and $15 for night skiing. Not bad.
Third, the Blackjack gets big storms off of Lake Superior which drop a lot os snow all season long. Double not bad.
Other fun things about Blackjack include theme Saturdays, such as Cowboy weekend, German Fest and the Blackjack Olympiad. The resort also has two terrain parks, NASTAR and Friday night racing, as well as a full-service ski and ride school, rentals (including snowshoes) and, as mentioned above, night skiing.
If you’re a midwestern skier, do check out Mark’s site: The Wisconsin Skier. It’s full of good information about skiing in the upper midwest and skiing, in general.
A bit more about Mark: He’s a Northeast Wisconsin native who loves to ski and wants to share this passion with others. Mark spent six years in the United Arab Emirates as an instructor of math and computers. He’s married to a wonderful woman from Cebu, Philippines. Alas she does not ski. But he still thinks she’s wonderful!
Why My Family Loves Skiing Granite Peak, Wisconsin, March 28, 2012.
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