The 10 Least-Read ‘Storm Skiing Journal’ Articles of All Time
Ranked by number of views
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After reviewing the top 10 Storm Skiing podcasts (by number of downloads) and newsletters (by number of views) of all time, I’ll finish off this vacation series with a tallying of The Storm’s least-read posts. There’s nothing inherently wrong with these articles - some of them are actually among my favorites. Their low readership is entirely attributable to one fact: they were all published pre-Covid, when The Storm’s readership was a fraction (about five percent) of what it is today. I actually wish I’d held a few of the non-newsy ones back until my email list was a bit larger. Any new Storm post published today gets as many views as all 10 of these articles currently have combined. But perhaps this article can push a few of them a bit higher:
10) Skiing and the Freedom from Winning – Feb. 21, 2020
I quite like watching team sports. I’ve had Michigan football season tickets for 14 years. But I really dislike playing them. I do not find competition enjoyable. Thus: skiing.
When at 16 I discovered skiing, it was as though I had landed on the shores of an entirely new country. Here was an activity with all the physical demands of team sports, but none of the interpersonal drama that I found so grating. Here was something wide open and fast and technical. Here was an arena with zero rules and endless creativity. Here was adventure and variety and the outdoors. Here was a place I belonged.
9) So We're Going to Keep Pretending Stratton's Special? OK, Cool. – Nov. 18, 2019
This one is, um, not one of my favorites. But it’s an interesting peak at how I’d originally conceived of and executed the news update – a post that now typically runs upward of 5,000 words and is broken into much better-defined sections, including the “elsewhere,” “Storm notes,” and “this week in (not) skiing” sections (all visible only to paid subscribers). This was The Storm finding its voice and its form, and this is why I didn’t activate a paywall until nearly two and a half years after launching.
While Ikon Pass backlash doesn’t really exist as a mob activity in the Northeast, where all of the mountains have all been too busy on peak days since time began, it’s nonetheless helpful to hook up longtime passholders who had been paying a premium for a one-mountain pass and may now have to share their mountain a bit more broadly.
8) North American Ski Industry Nears Total Shutdown as Fight to Prevent COVID-19 Spread Ramps Up – March 16, 2020
Man this is weird to read now. What an amazing few weeks that was, when the whole world was turning off and no one knew what the hell to do about anything.
The good thing about ski season is that we’re used to it ending. It’s not like breakfast, where you have to do it every day or you die. It’s not even like hot showers, which are nice to have but not absolutely essential to survival. I would probably give up skiing before I’d give up hot showers. But it’s nice to have both when you can.
7) The Powder Palace at the Top of the World – Dec. 17, 2019
Here’s another early example of a news update, in which I did something I would never do now: tag the post with a reference to the “this week in skiing” segment. In this case, that was a storm-cycle trip to Alta-Snowbird, where I stayed at the Cliff Lodge and had first poke at the storm after Interlodge.
And the most amazing part of all this is after leaping half mad with joy down the snowy majestically treed hillsides through endlessly refilled powder so deep you can’t find the bottom with a pole stuck handle-deep into the incline you descend from this frozen kingdom thousands of feet but only dozens of minutes to bland and sprawling Salt Lake City, not a snowflake on the ground, the whole of it so jarring and typically American that it’s hard to believe in the majestic land you just left. This is not like driving up to Killington from Rutland on an October or June day and being like, “Cool there’s snow,” which is a novelty and a triumph of technology. This is more Disney, more Tolkien, like a land where there’s realms and each realm is themed and magnificently distinct even though they appear stacked one after another on ancient hand-drawn scroll maps marked with dragons and sailing ships and skulls. And down below is the realm of the Big Box and the interstate wide and flat, and above is the Winter Realm, a triumph of nature, where a snow trap tens of millions of years in the making spins out a microclimate so wild and improbable and brilliant that the only way to believe in it is to go and stand there and say holy fucking shit man it’s actually real.
6) Skiing Resists the Great American Coronavirus Shutdown of 2020 - for Now – March 14, 2020
Remember that few days when we weren’t sure if we were going to do anything about Covid, before we did everything about Covid? I wrote this in that moment. This essay captured my initial impressions and feelings. Everything evolved rapidly from there. Some of this, I’ll admit, is a little embarrassing to read now, but if I waited until every Storm post was perfect before publishing, then you’d still be waiting for the first newsletter.
Here in New York, the city seems to be slowly shutting down. You can get a seat on the subway at any hour. Parking is plentiful. Groceries are harder to come by. Many large employers, mine included, have instituted mandatory indefinite work-from-home policies. An atmosphere of what’s-next uncertainty prevails.
5) The Wrong Side of The Storm – Dec. 2, 2019
Again, The Storm has evolved a lot. In those first months of its existence – the platform had been live for only six weeks when I published this – I hadn’t really dialed my focus yet. Here is a post about weather and a recent storm – something I would never write about in the main news section now. But the ability to experiment and hone and continually improve is one of the great attributes of the newsletter platform. Read this one mostly to see how much better The Storm is now than it once was.
Get out this week if you can swing it. The one thing we all know about the Northeast is that there’s no rhythm or natural logic to the weather at all, and so this could be the bellwether storm of a deep and unbelievable season or the early-season anomaly that we talk about on the chairlift in February when we’re skiing on grass. So get it while it’s here.
4) Wait Tugboats Do What? On The Chairlift at Killington – Nov. 1, 2019
In the five months between when I decided to launch The Storm in May 2019 and when I actually sent the first issue that October, I wrote a bunch of literary-style essays to make sure I had a steady run of content post-go-live. This was one of those essays. It’s one of my favorite things I’ve ever published on The Storm, but the headline wasn’t compelling and it just sort of floundered. Too bad. Chairlift chatter is one of my favorite parts of skiing, and this was my attempt to capture those ephemeral moments.
One of the other riders is a skier and one is a snowboarder and they are probably in their mid-twenties and they seem like the kind of guys who are probably into recreational drug use but the kind of drugs that make you mellow and talk about how the moon landing or 9/11 or dinosaurs never happened man and not the kind of drugs that make you lose control of your life and live amidst piles of pizza boxes and forget to brush your teeth for a month and sell your dad’s toolshed for $25 on Craig’s List. They live in Rhode Island and both have the Ikon pass and last year they’d had the Max Pass and they are ready. To. Go. Yeah Yawgoo’s close but by whatever lucky confluence of circumstance they can ride midweek and from their perch in southern New England they sit within striking distance of all those mountains cut rising along the northern ranges all the way up to Canada. It is obvious they are best buds and both have the same ski-the-shit-out-of-winter attitude and they are not the kind of dudes who will look back on their twenties and say man I fucked that up. I am a little jealous of their comradeship as I generally cannot find anyone to daytrip to Vermont with me from NYC especially midweek but I am glad they have this and that there are people doing things with days off other than binge-watching Game Throners or whatever it’s called and we all ski off and away.
3) Podcast #8: Liftopia CEO Evan Reece – Dec. 12, 2019
Given everything that’s happened with the formerly great Liftopia since this conversation, it’s kind of amazing to believe it ever occurred. But I was at one time a huge proponent of Liftopia, which gave frequent skiers who didn’t live near an Epic or Ikon mountain a way to hack the system. In hindsight, Liftopia’s implosion probably gave a lot of fuel to Indy Pass’ rise, as it left a big hole in the marketplace for anyone looking for a discount access tier. But at the time of this interview, Liftopia seemed to be on a positive upward trajectory that no one had any reason to believe would end anytime soon. It did.
I’ll also make this point: while this is one of the least read articles in Storm history, the podcast actually has far more downloads than the podcast has views. That’s because many listeners find the pod through iTunes or Spotify or some other service, and listen without ever reading the article. As The Storm has grown, however, this dynamic has reversed, and each podcast article now gets far more views than the corresponding podcast gets downloads.
There are some mistakes you only make once. Spending New Year’s Eve in Times Square. Deciding in the parking garage as you’re exiting your vehicle to go stand in Times Square for four hours that nah I don’t need that ski coat it feels just fine in this flannel and hoodie standing here in this shelter even though I know it’s zero degrees outside. Mixing Captain Morgan and Ice House. Drinking Ice House. Rolling up to a ski area without a lift ticket on a midwinter weekend and just being like yeah let me go pick those up real quick.
2) Whatevs to Your Weather Report Man, Let's Shred – Dec. 5, 2019
Here’s another terrible headline leading an essay that I’m dramatically fond of. It involved the joys of taking my daughter – who was 9 as the events described within this article take place – skiing around the Northeast.
I have a plan for such circumstances and the plan involves angling directly across the slope so you’re basically skiing flat and a pivot near the very edge for an S-turn wide enough to sweep around Yankee Stadium. And so I lined up the children and said follow me and skied off and of course they both collapsed mid-hill before we’d made a single turn. For a moment both sat crumpled and gear-splayed and poised like desperate climbers gripping a cliff edge in a Himalayan Stallone adventure, the ice-snow groaning beneath them as physics approached its point where mass plus slippery surface equaled freefall.
It happened a second later, both children simultaneously pinwheeling downhill like cartoon characters. By this time I had swung back below them but they came like simultaneously thrown bowling balls and 10 feet apart and I could only save one so I chose my daughter, digging my skis in perpendicular to the slope and skidding a little upon impact but holding holding and then turning to watch as her friend spiraled 200 vertical feet down and gaining velocity all the way until the hill flattened out and he came to a stop just before the cut slope gave way to woods. He seemed fine and at least he was down and gee why hadn’t I thought to conduct a lesson in the art of self-arrest prior to our decent of Catamount? Somewhere above us his dad was still side-slipping his way down but I decided I couldn’t worry about them and just focused on pep-talking my daughter from one sweeping turn to the next until 15 minutes later we were down.
1) That One Time When Everybody Was Talking About Skiing in New Jersey – Dec. 9, 2019
Maybe no article better distills The Storm’s evolution than this one, which takes a rather unnuanced look at what I later called the most important ski area in America. This is, thankfully, the least-read story in Storm history, and I hope it stays that way.
For years now you could see it rising off the shoulder of the Jersey Turnpike, angular and metallic and mottled red and yellow, a Seussian contraption dropped from some faraway fantastical storybook land, improbable and absurd and ridiculous as any Whoville could ever be.
“That was supposed to be an indoor ski area,” I’d say to whoever was in the car with me whenever I’d drive past it over the past dozen years, which was not very often because there is no reason to ever drive in New Jersey except to move through it.
“Really?” my passengers would say with varying degrees of bewilderment. “What happened?” they’d ask. “Will it ever open?”
I didn’t know. But I hoped that it would.
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