Dad Snows Best – an ode to ski and snowboard fathers

The snow world is filled with fathers who were taught by their fathers who were taught by theirs. Step into the hallowed snow halls of any Aussie ski club and you’ll find a plethora of stories to be told around the fire after a day on the slopes, handed down from dad to dad.

The ski world has changed since those early heady days of your great grandfathers when skis were thin and made of word, boots were leather and outerwear was tweed.

Snowboarding shocked the old school skiers with its crazy ways and has now nestled in its not so crazy place, Gore Tex meant overnight missions became more comfortable and today’s ski and snowboard technology ensures that your dad and his dad (and you) can ski and snowboard well into their eighties should they so desire.

On the eve of Father’s Day, consider this an ode to the snow dads in all their shapes and sizes. Which one is yours?

The cross country Pa

Here’s to the Dads who spend their weekends in woollen beanies, strapped to skinny skis with long poles, sliding through gum trees, stopping trailside for scroggin and a chat with the local wombat. This dad has taught you patience, mindfulness, how to exist in the here and the now away from the mechanisms of chairlifts and smart phones. You’ll thank him one day over a hot rum and a roaring camp fire.

The racing Father

Here’s to the father with the 4K video camera strapped to his hand, standing course side at the steepest gate, ready to capture your perfect turn and deconstruct it on screen to show you where you went right. His driving skills have got you safely to every race meet since you were able to wear Lycra without a nappy and his wallet has got you on planes to race camps across the waters. He’s taught you discipline, resilience, drive and focus with every DNF, DNS and podium you did or didn’t get.

The backcountry Dad

Here’s to the backcountry dad who knows the joy of the wild. With velvet skins, beacons and probe in his backpack, GPS on his watch and legs made of steel, he knows the good stuff is worth working for and he’s taught you to work hard, manage risk and play safe. In a world of self gratification, his belief in long term as he works toward the summit, with you in his wake, will hold you in good stead for without the rise up there will be no powder down. 

The overseas ski Daddy

Here’s to the Dad that loves the fine life. Who ventures beyond his own back yard to seek out the best powder and takes you along for the ride. He knows skiing and snowboarding is meant for friends and family and that memories made on the snow stay with you for life. He also knows he could go without you, but where’s the fun in that? You’ll thank him when you’re waiting tables to support that season pass in the ski town you spend your gap year that never ends.

The ski club Papa

Here’s to the dad who believes in community. The one who welcomes the chores board and working bees of ski club life. The one who offers and gives before he’d ever take, who understands that money well spent means more days on the slopes. He’s the one that’s taught you how to share, how to be generous, how to connect with strangers until they become friends.

The new Dad

Here’s to the new Dad who has it all ahead of him. The tantrum in the car park when putting on ski boots, the tears doing the pizza when they want to French fry, the snotty nose stuck to the wind gator, the sugar highs and sugar lows, the constant questions on the chairlift, the eye spy for six hours on the highway, the meltdowns, the skis thrown in a dummy spit, the goggles that won’t defog, the Aldi sale madness and the pure joy when they nail their first green run, whoop through their first blue and beat you down their first black.

The Grandad

Here’s to grandad whose been here before, who takes you through single tracks in the forest, skis you in for a hot chocolate and out for a play on the terrain park, who fixes your helmet and carries your skis and hands you back when you get wobbly from fatigue. He’s there for the good times and he’s taught you that age (his) is no barrier to connection and the mountain.

The once a year Dad

Here’s to the dad jokes, the gapers, the ones who never quite get it right. They go left when you want to go right, they forget to do up their boots or leave one pant leg tucked mid calf, they go vague when getting on the chairlift, shout at you below when you ski underneath and still pizza to a stop at the café despite twenty years of once a year weeks. They’ve taught you that the snow world is for everyone, that giving it a go for pure delight is what brings joy in life.

The never skied Dad

God love him. He’s left it to you to show him the way.

Rachael Oakes-Ash is the name behind @misssnowitall and the founder of SnowsBest.com. A long time travel and lifestyle journalist and ski writer, she's been published in ESPN, TIME, Wallpaper*, Action Asia, Inside Sport, Australian Financial Review, Emirates Open Skies, Conde Nast Traveler and more. She was the Fairfax snow blogger from 2007 to 2017 and the Southern Hemisphere editor for OnTheSnow. Rachael is also a documentary producer, author, radio announcer and humorist.

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