Ski Locker: A season ski pass story

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Mary Ann Schenck’s season pass to Big Mountain Resort from the 1966-67 season.

When we decided on the theme “Celebrating the Season Passholder” for this year’s Showcase of the Chefs, it started me thinking about season passes of the past — all the way back to “when did I get my first season pass?” My mom wasn’t a saver, so whatever the year, it was probably gone before my second pass was issued.

Looking back, I couldn’t remember ever having a season pass until I went off to college and got my pass at Lake Eldora. As fate would have it, later that day I received a call from Mary Ann Miles (Schenck). Mary Ann and I have similar roots on Big Mountain, her being the daughter of Ed Schenck, the resort’s founder and (some would say autocratic) manager for more than 30 years, and me being raised on the slopes as the son of long-time ski school and ski shop owners Karl and Nina.

Mary Ann and I talked about “Celebrating the Season Passholder,” and I asked “Do you ever remember having a season pass when you were a kid?” She replied “I vaguely remember having a piece of paper that I was supposed show at the ticket window. But to be honest, I don’t think either one of us ever needed a pass. At first there were only two lifts, and everybody knew who we were.”

When I asked if she still had any of her old passes, she replied that she had some, but brothers Karl and Eric probably saved a lot more. Did they ever! Last week I connected with Mary Ann, Eric and Karl. They each brought along their season pass collection which prompted some highly entertaining growing-up-on-Big-Mountain stories. All three collections date back to the 1960s before passes had pictures, and the combined collections totaled 110 passes in a stack that measured nearly 6 inches tall!

“Celebrating the Season Passholder” is the theme for the 2019 edition of “Showcase of the Chefs” hosted by the Flathead Valley Ski Education Foundation at The Lodge at Whitefish Lake on Nov. 21. All attendees are encouraged to bring a season ski pass, new or old, to the event. Prizes will be awarded for Oldest Big Mountain Pass, Oldest Non-Big Mountain Pass, Most Passes (bring a photo of your collection) and “Best” and “Worst” pass picture (as judged arbitrarily by a panel of impartial pass holders).

For event details and ticket information, visit www.fvsef.org.

Tim Hinderman is the executive director of the Flathead Valley Ski Education Foundation. This column is brought to you by the Flathead Valley Ski Education Foundation and the Ski Heritage Center Museum of Skiing.

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