Stop me if you’ve heard this one. You walk into the lodge/bar/lift line at a ski resort and you look around, shaking your head in disbelief. “I’ve been here before,” you think.
But you haven’t. You’ve just embarked on your latest ski trip (to a new-to-you ski resort, no less) but you swear that you’ve seen that guy before.
Yes, that guy. The one going Mach 3 down the mountain with nary a turn in sight, sounding the call of the Camouflagicus Maximus: “I’m a-coming!”
It’s like “Groundhog Day,” but without Bill Murray.
This phenomenon should not be surprising, as the ski resort “family” supports several “genus,” broken down into various “species,” each with specific identifiers. However, with just a little preparation, you can successfully survive ski trip encounters with the various specimens like Superious Attitudinous or Furrious Luxurious with few—if any—ill effects.
To help you out, we’ve compiled a field guide to the 10 people you’ll meet on every ski trip. Who knows? You might even be able to spot and successfully integrate with a group of Rippinus Vociferous.
The Out-of-State Novice (Camouflagicus Maximus)
Relatively harmless, the out-of-state novice can usually be sighted at the bottom of the mountain, most likely beginners area and/or rope tow. Easily identified by the large amounts of camouflage that they don and an unbridled enthusiasm for the new experience upon which they’ve embarked. Après-ski activity usually involves shots, often bought for the whole bar.
The Non-Skier (Avoidingtha Mountainos)
Hot tubs. Hot chocolate. Hot Toddies. These folks are fans of anything that doesn’t involve the cold. Though it seems odd to take a vacation at a ski resort when one does not ski, Avoidingtha Mountainos are common due to their willingness to capitulate to the desires of others and a general laid-back attitude. These types are invaluable to befriend, as they will always know about happy hour specials and poachable hot tubs.
The “Local” (Superiorious Attitudinous)
Not to be confused with Rippinus Vociferous, this often-encountered specimen is most noticeable on the chairlift or while riding the gondola. Characterized by an amplified volume of conversation discussing “gapers,” “gnar” and various levels of “wasted,” these particular ski resort denizens may claim to be native, but they are most often recent transplants from other locales. It’s best to ignore the cawing and preening of this species until they naturally evolve into more pleasant creatures.
The Fashion Plate (Furrious Luxurious)
Perhaps the most eye-catching of the ski resort species, these individuals are easily recognizable by the abundant fur adorning their person and/or the latest, most advanced technical gear strapped to their feet. Much like a peacock, the plumage is showy and impressive but, like the peacock, the on-mountain performance often doesn’t live up to the package.
The Park Rat (Rattus Terrainious)
Rarely found outside of their preferred habitat (unless they’re migrating to or from home), these skiers and snowboarders tend to gather in terrain parks. However, if you can gather up the courage to enter their domain, it’s worth a visit to witness the spectacular displays of prowess that these people can throw down. Rattus Terrainious are a close-knit group and harmless to the general population.
The Classicists (Apparati Antiquus)
A testament to the longevity of skiing, these folks have been skiing for 30+ years and they still utilize the same equipment. Unironically. From rear-entry boots to skis so flat that pancakes are jealous, the Classicists insist that the tried-and-true was good enough for John Cusack in “Better Off Dead” and it’s good enough for them. Arguing is futile. Note: there are certain days of the year (April Fool’s Day, Closing Day) where detecting Apparti Antiquus are difficult due to large numbers of imitators infiltrating the mountain. Identify carefully.
Lifties (Surlious Machina Mobilius)
Indigenous to ski resorts, Lifties are one of the most polarized species that you’re likely to encounter. While some are friendly and generally content in their environment, others are cantankerous and may take out their aggression on you, simply because you’re skiing and they’re not. It’s difficult to classify which type of Liftie you might come in contact with, so use caution when approaching Lifties in their lairs as they have been known to bite. We also urge you to please treat each interaction as a separate experience and do not judge the entire species on a few individuals.
The Real Deal (Rippinus Vociferous)
Cute girls or guys who should probably be in the next Warren Miller film (who knows—they might be), but they don’t make you feel bad about it. Instead, you meet them on the lift and they point you to the best powder stashes and then meet you for a Happy Hour beverage when the mountain closes. These particular specimens tend to move in large groups, so if you find one, stay close. Play your cards right and you have a good chance of being adopted into the pack.
The Mighty Mini (Rippinus Minimus)
A smaller version of Rippinus Vociferous, Rippinus Minimus are usually between the ages of three and 12 and they can still ski better than you. The most common encounter is being buzzed as they race by in a knee-high blur of snowsuit; airborne sightings are also possible. Identified by height, speed and a general lack of fear, Rippinus Minimus can be found all over the mountain, but tend to disappear (rightfully so) before après celebrations commence.
Texans (Humanus Texicanii)
You’ll know them by their uniform (the Texas Tuxedo), their unique way of carrying their skis (the Texas Handbag) and their distinct manner of speaking (the drawl). Classification confirmation is assured as they’ll identify themselves within five minutes of introduction. Nevertheless, this good-natured variety is easy to approach and an instrumental addition to any successful ski resort as their unbridled enthusiasm is often contagious. Note: Sometimes confused with Camouflagicus Maximus, Humanus Texicanii are from an autonomous country, hence the separate classification.
We hope that this field guide to the people you’ll meet on every ski trip has been helpful. If you feel that we have missed any specimens, please submit your findings to the classification specialists for confirmation and inclusion in the forthcoming annotated edition.