Getting the opportunity to travel and discover a new ski town is one of the most exhilarating experiences a skier or snowboarder can enjoy.
But if you don’t know where to look when venturing out to new mountain towns, it can be difficult to get the true essence of what makes them so special. So, to help guide you, GrindTV reached out to a collection of icons from the snow sports world for an insider’s perspective of what makes their home mountain so wonderful.
For our latest installment of “Local Knowledge”, we spoke with Jonny Moseley — one of the most recognizable freestyle skiers ever and the 1998 Winter Olympics gold medalist in moguls — about how the culture of progression at California’s Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows resort shaped his personal and professional life.
What is your earliest memory of really falling in love with Squaw Valley?
I was only two years old when my parents moved our family here from Puerto Rico, so I don’t really remember my first big memory of falling in love with Squaw. My father had been in Puerto Rico for a while before he moved back to California, suddenly it was just, every weekend we were loading up the car and driving to Squaw.
They liked the scene, the ruggedness of the mountain, how the culture in Squaw really centered around actually skiing. How they could take us to the bar in the lodge after skiing, and we’d play arcade games while they had some drinks with friends. We did it so much that my best friends became the kids whose parents were doing the same, so I don’t have really one moment I remember, it was my whole childhood.
What influence do you think the culture in Squaw played in pushing you towards freestyle culture?
It was huge. My dad saw the early days of freestyle skiing going off in Squaw, and he signed me and my brothers up for a freestyle contest.
There was always this laid-back vibe in Squaw, and that carried over to the parents in town. When my brothers and I asked about joining the newly-formed freestyle team they didn’t think twice about it.
Do you think that laid-back attitude helped foster the culture of progression that resulted in guys like you and Shane McConkey coming out of Squaw?
Yeah, it continues today, and it went back before freestyle. You had the ’80s big-mountain stuff, and the culture it attracted, which was these East Coast skiers — hardcore guys who grew up on crappy snow — moving out here because of the terrain.
You have skiers from all over coming to ski our stuff, and dealing with the variable conditions here. It makes it so you had to learn how to ski everything, and there was just this diverse group of skiers there because they loved trying new stuff and weird things and it’s infectious.
The guy in your ski school as a kid will be teaching you one day and the next day you’ll see him ripping down the mountain launching a 50-footer. In your mind it’s just, “Whatever I’m doing now, I need to advance it.” You’re never good enough at Squaw. And if you’re doing something that has been done before, nobody here cares. You need to do something new.
It’s obvious the crazy terrain at Squaw played a huge role in your career. If it’s an all-time day, what lift-accessed terrain are you hitting?
That’ll be the most sustained pow run you’ll find. Head down the western face of the lift. It’s wide open and you won’t have to guess at all.
And after riding all day where are you stopping for après?
Well, I personally like the Plaza Bar. It’s the original après ski bar built for the Olympics back in the ’60s. It’s been remodeled but still has that old-school feel. It has a nice big lounge area you can sit so you don’t have to stand, it kind of sucks to stand shoulder-to-shoulder and yell for a beer. Sit down there, get some nachos and some good IPAs.
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