Lights out: snow surfing at Brodie Mountain

When that fancy French restaurant on Route 7 (Le Coq d’Or??) was winding down, one of its better known servers, a tall gentleman from Hawaii, would manage to liberate a few trays from their collection, and adding a few more from the Wood House collection, would collect the faithful and somebody’s car, and head down Route 7 to the Brodie Mountain Ski Area (now defunct, alas).

Our arrival was closely timed with the conclusion of night skiing at Brodie, but we did benefit from the lights for the first two runs or so. No lift lines, but no lift. We walked up with our trays and surfed down. Again and again. The thrill of snow surfing in pitch darkness on a cold Berkshire winter night is difficult to capture. The chills and spills were just part of the experience.

Please note, snow surfing is not at all like its poor country cousin, traying. Real snow surfers stand up, as long as they can, and if they are really good, stay that way all the way to the bottom. Turns? Not so easy. Only one direction: downhill.

The inventor of the sport perhaps held the expectation that the translation of the graceful arcs and turns of the surfboard in water could be duplicated on snow (remember, snowboards had not yet been invented).  But, he soon discovered that water in its New England winter form had different properties. We persisted, nonetheless.

No records were kept, unfortunately, of best times down the slopes or number of falls (way too many), but this is probably one of the best attempts to Hawaiianize New England that any of us ever saw. Including the Brodie leprechauns who now and then peeked out at us from the comfort of their lodge in wonder and astonishment.

Invented in Williamstown, for and by Williams students. Winter of 1968.

Exhibit A — a bonafide waiter’s tray

Cheerful ad for Brodie Mountain Ski Area


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