Randy Friedman, the ski and travel director for the Boston Ski & Sports Club, has skied virtually every hill in New England.
The former liftie at Steamboat recently spoke with us about his run-ins with Tom Brokaw and Ethel Kennedy, as well as the best ski trip of his life in La Plagne, France.
You’re the ski & travel director for BSSC. What exactly do you do?
I plan all the BSSC’s ski and travel adventures, from local to all over the world. So for example, this year I have planned, coordinated, and promoted our upcoming trips to Snowbird, Banff, Red Mountain, and Whitewater in British Columbia, Canada, and Mount Bachelor. It’s my job to ensure we’re going to the best mountains, getting the best experiences, and securing really good pricing for our travelers.
Off-season, I plan local weekend excursions such as whitewater rafting, golf, mountain biking, hiking, trips to Montreal for the Jazz Festival, and anything that sounds fun.
For weekend skiing, I plan trips to the major New England areas such as Jay Peak, Sugarloaf, Sunday River, and more. We have ski weekend trips almost every weekend through the ski season including the famous and fun Parrot Head and Reggae festivals. For vacations there is no limit. We have traveled to Hawaii, Australia, and Africa, bike and barged on European rivers, dined on Italian specialties, hiked the Matterhorn and the Eiger, and more. We have also skied all over the world, from summer trips in South America, to all over the west and Europe. Looking to do Japan next year!
How would you characterize your interest in downhill snow sports?
Totally addicted. It is my profession! I love it; I live it!!
What’s your favorite New England ski area and why?
That’s a tough one to answer. There are many things I enjoy at different resorts but if I had to pick one, I’d say Jay Peak. I love the remoteness of the area. They receive the most snow in New England and in my opinion it is the closest to skiing out west. They have some of the best steeps and glades in New England.
How did you get into skiing?
In high school, one of my buddies was a skier. He told a few of us he would take us skiing and show us how. Well, he took me up to the top of a rope tow, which was an adventure in itself, and then said, “See ya at lunch.” I was on my own and had no idea what I was doing.
It was a very hard day. I fell a lot, tore my gloves up on the rope tow, was soaking wet as I was wearing jeans and a sweatshirt, and loved every minute of it. I was hooked after that day.
You were a liftie at Steamboat. Tell us more — any crazy stories, or brushes with famous people?
After many days of snow, and on a foggy day, myself and another guy were working the bottom of the chair lift. Nobody was around. There was tons of fresh snow. I’m standing there and the other guy, a second year vet, grabs the back of the chair as it comes around the bullwheel and holds on as it drags him across the loading air and into the air. He is dangling from the back of the chair and I am watching him start to disappear into the fog. Then he lets go and drops about 10 feet into a deep pile of snow up to about his waist. I instantly grabbed the next chair and up I went. I had to go past his hole to get to fresh snow and dropped a little higher and down a bit further into a hole. We continued doing this until we were about 2 towers up the hill and dropping about 25 to 30 feet into the snow.
I do recall loading Tom Brokaw onto the chair a few times. Another time Ethel Kennedy was there with Robert Redford. I was riding the chair in front of them and when I got off I was getting my gloves on and Ethel Kennedy crashed into me. She apologized, I told her it was an honor.
Describe your best ski trip/day ever.
A few years ago in La Plagne, France, my tour operator and I were being shown around by the head of the ski school. We skied down some steep col, and then up this long crazy chair lift to a peak and after a long traverse and then a hike, we arrived at the peak of what looked like an incredible open bowl and I was getting excited to ski it. But the ski director walked up and over the peak to the other side! Well, the world just dropped off. It was 7,000 vertical feet straight down — the North Face. I gulped, and my throat went dry. They asked if I wanted to ski it, and down I went. It was the steepest thing I have ever skied, and it went on forever. At the bottom, we skied past what I think was a horse farm or something; it’s not uncommon when skiing in the Alps to ski past farms, and there was this little restaurant in the middle of nowhere. It was the best meal I think I have ever had!
Circles, squares, or diamonds?
Really??? Well I do have to say the last few years with my kids I have gone back to greens, then to blues, and now back to blacks.
What do you ride on these days?
I have never really been into the hype of new skis, et cetera. A ski is a ski. I was very late to get off straight skis. I am on twin tips right now; I think they are about 70 or 80 under foot. I have had them for about five years. I just got a pair of Ramp Groundhogs ... 100 under foot with rocker tip and tail. I am looking forward to seeing what all the talk is about.
What’s the perfect après-ski?
With friends, the Moosewurt or Krazy Kangaroo in St. Anton. Crazy bars, dancing on tables with ski boots, and drinking Gluwein. Or a good sled (toboggan) ride down a long trail after cheese fondue.
What’s the best skiing advice you’ve ever received or that you could offer?
I think it was Warren Miller that said the best ski area is the one you are at. So true. My new favorite is off a shirt my wife just bought me, “You don’t stop skiing because you get old, you get old because you stop skiing.” And lastly, get out there and ski!Have a suggestion for an “I’m a skier/snowboarder” profile? E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Matt Pepin on Twitter at @mattpep15.