By Christina Schiavo, Corporate Relations Intern, Palio
It’s that time of year again – the air is crisp and snow is beginning to fall over the mountaintops (well, hopefully). This can only mean 1 thing: ‘tis the season to dust off that snowboard or set of skis that has been tucked away for the warmer months. Being here in upstate New York, at the foot of the Adirondacks, it should come as no surprise that Palio is home to some dedicated boarders and skiers. In fact, we’ve got everything from the occasional rider to the major thrill-seeker who travels the globe in hopes of conquering that next big mountain.
For Mike Myers, president of Palio, nothing beats skiing fresh snow on a crisp morning. In the winter months, he sets out for a number of reasons, but most importantly, to stay active. Skiing for Myers is a great exercise; it’s also a social thing that he can enjoy with family and friends.
Myers grew up in Arizona, which probably makes you wonder, “How did he even get into skiing?” Well, surprisingly enough, there is skiing in Arizona – not much, but just enough to spark interest. In high school, he set out for the slopes and a passion for the sport grew. Well maybe not initially, seeing that his first time out was a bit of an experience. “On my first day skiing, my friends dragged me up to the top of the mountain and just left me there,” recalled Myers. “It took me three and a half hours to get down. When we were coming down the mountain on the bus, I literally had water pouring out of my boots.” Myers looks back on this and just laughs, especially now that he can do that run in about 8 minutes!
His passion for skiing is something that he’s been able to share with his children over the years. “My kids all love it and I’m the official skier in our family as my wife does not ski,” said Myers. “It has been the activity that enables me to spend quality time with them.”
It seems Myers’ kids have taken advantage of being in the Adirondacks and are giving good ole dad a run for his money as the best skier in the family. Last year, Myers took the kids on a day trip to Gore Mountain. Upon their return, he told his wife that his work was done. Myers explained, “I told her that the kids were better than me and I no longer needed to ski.” The family recently adopted a 12-year-old, so for now, Myers can keep his title of “official skier.”
Jim Mittler, PhD, medical director, is an avid snowboarder. The guy is quite the adrenaline junkie so when the winter rolls around, he’s out looking for the next big thrill. “Cross-country skiing or snowshoeing doesn’t do it for me,” said Mittler. “It doesn’t quite provide the speed and inherent risk that snowboarding or skiing does.”
Mostly, Mittler rides to stay active and ward off cabin fever. When talking to him, you can tell his passion for winter sports runs deep. “Whether flying down frozen groomers or floating through deep powder, when athleticism and technique combine with snow conditions and terrain, you gain a heightened sense of awareness of yourself and the mountain. It can be a near-religious experience,” Mittler gleamed.
He started skiing at the age of 12 and it wasn’t until he was 25 that he gave boarding a go. Since Mittler’s first taste of the board, he hasn’t looked back or been on skis in 16 years. For him, snowboarding is something he enjoys doing with both family and friends, but often, you’ll find him solo on the mountain. “Sometimes the solitude is refreshing,” Mittler explained.
When it comes to snowboarding around here, Mittler enjoys Stratton Mountain. The mountain has nice terrain for cruising and high-speed, 6-person chairlifts that keep things moving at a faster pace. Mittler also enjoys Whiteface Mountain. “It has the greatest vertical drop on the East Coast,” said Mittler. “When there’s fresh snow there’s nothing like it. If you’re lucky enough to get a big dump, ‘the [avalanche] slides’ open up, providing some gnarly backcountry-type riding.”
Mittler makes it a point to take snowboarding trips each year. He lives for the terrain at some of the larger resorts because it is vaster than the terrain here on the East Coast and has better snow conditions. Mittler has been to the Colorado Rockies, Lake Tahoe, Whistler in North America and Les Arcs (French Alps), and Grandvalira (Andorra) and Zermatt (Switzerland) in Europe. When talking about his trips, Mittler exclaimed, “I meet so many people from all over the world who are there for the same thrill-seeking and fun-loving reasons.” He continued, “Often, I meet locals who show me parts of the mountain that the typical tourist will miss – leading to adrenaline-filled days and an even better nightlife to follow!”
When asked about his favorite spot, Mittler said Zermatt, Switzerland at the Matterhorn. The mountain offers both a Swiss side and an Italian side, both of which have unique terrain and slip-side ambiance. Here, Mittler took advantage of the magnificent and vast terrain, covering countless miles and about 60,000 vertical feet. When he wasn’t snowboarding, he was exploring the charming village of Zermatt. “It is a pedestrian-style village so there are no cars allowed; only a few electric shuttles for the skiers and riders or horse-drawn carriages and sleds,” said Mittler. “There are great restaurants with local cuisine, lively après skiing, and nightlife that goes well into the predawn hours.”
Mittler offers some tips for those looking to take skiing/snowboarding trips. For one, befriending locals is something he has come to love. He feels that it heightens the experience on and off the mountain. Another tip is beware of Austrians. Mittler said, “They like speed and you better be prepared to push yourself when riding along side of them. And they’re crazy…on and off the pistes.” He also offers a forewarning for anyone looking to venture to Europe: “Resorts don’t necessarily rope off trails/pistes like they do in the US, so there’s some pretty crazy terrain accessible, but you have to use judgment and be sharp when dropping into certain areas.”
Tyler Mason, associate producer, is skilled in both skiing and snowboarding. When it boils down to it, he prefers skiing because of the total sense of freedom it provides him. Skiing is something that Mason looks forward to every year. “I just love the fresh mountain air and scenery at the top,” said Mason. “Most of all I love the adrenaline rush, whether it be through moguls, tress, or a wide open terrain.”
For Mason, skiing is a lifestyle – he has been hitting the slopes since the ripe age of 3. Mason has a deep passion for it, which comes from the challenge it offers. Skiing is something that allows him to constantly push his limits and explore his abilities. He exclaimed, “With skiing I’m always pushing my limits and seeing improvement.”
Vermont isn’t too far from Saratoga Springs, so you can often find Mason at some of the larger mountains, including Killington, in the winter months. If he can take a skiing trip, his preference is Vail, CO.
In fact, Mason recently took a trip out west to Vail with his fiancé and recalled a funny story involving a complicated math problem and the ski lift. Before jumping into the story, you must know that his fiancé is a mathematics teacher and Vail offers trivia on a board for those waiting in the ski lift line. “There was a complex math problem on the board that nobody had gotten all day, so naturally she thought she could figure it out,” said Mason. “While she was concentrating, she forgot to pay attention to the lift and needless to say, took out 2 random people, myself and the ski lift had to come to a stop. The lift eventually started back up and she spun around in her seat, blurting out the answer, which was correct! Laughter and cheers were had by all as we departed up the mountain.”
On that note, we guess Myers is right when he says, “Skiing does not occur without something funny happening.” So set out this season with friends or family to enjoy winter activity with fresh mountain air, great scenery, and some interesting stories to share with others.
Here at Palio, health and wellness runs through everything we do – in the office and out. And our employees are involved from every angle! From running to yoga, and tennis to ironman – you name it, we’ve got folks who do it. Because health is such a big part of our lives and work, our Because We Can health initiatives series is designed to highlight the passions, commitments, accomplishments and goals of a few of the members of our team.
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