Why would the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School elite descend upon Canyons? As second year student, Brian Crandall, explained, “It’s skiing. It’s 2,000 miles from Philadelphia. I needed another excuse to spend a grand. My 900 closest friends went, and I am allergic to peer pressure. Also, windburn compliments my crow’s feet…”
I had the privilege and honor to ski with six of their finest, including the aforementioned Mr. Crandall and Tage Howerton, president of Wharton’s Ski and Snowboard Club, the largest club on campus with a very impressive 900 members. Dear friend Charlotte Moats, professional skier and all-around babe, is a first year at Wharton, so she and I took the boys for a spin around the mountain. When I met them at the top of the Cabriolet I was happy to discover that two of the guys were dressed to impress. Kerry and Brian were clad in the most awesome of onesies circa 1986, in preparation for an apres party at Red Pine Lodge where there was a walk-off of the most fantastic neon, shoulder-padded outfits.
As CEOs, executives and global leaders of the future, I felt if I couldn’t stretch them intellectually, I would do my best to challenge them physically. We headed to Super Condor Express for the first run of the day and I thought that seeing how they fared down Canis Lupus, a creek bed that during the winter turns into a natural half pipe, would be a good indicator of their abilities. Now, keep in mind that once you enter there is literally no stopping. It gets so narrow that every once in a while, if you time it right, you may be able to pull a flying wedge to temper your speed. But other than that you are in for the equivalent of an intensely, bumpy bronco ride on skis.
It seemed exceedingly fortuitous that we headed to Super Condor and just as we were about to drop in the one and only Jonny Moseley pulled up. I have to say that when he came up and gave me a hug, my coolness stock went way up! The guys were pretty psyched to rip around with a gold medal-winning freestyle virtuoso. So, Jonny Moseley, some Sprint executives that he was entertaining, professional skier Charlotte Moats, myself and the five business experts (or will be come May when they graduate) made up the ragtag team that dropped into Canis Lupus. I had the holeshot which allowed me the privilege of seeing every person emerge from the trees equal parts elated and winded. Canis Lupus is an arduous task. But when a group finishes with smiles on their faces, as this crew did, I knew I was in for a fantastic day.
We skied everything from the cruisers on Iron Mountain and the trees in Phantasm Woods, to hidden powder stashes off of Magic Lines. One of my favorite moments was when Brian insisted that he needed to wreak havoc on some moguls. I have an unforgettable vision of him in his neon green turtleneck popping and swiveling all the way down Pipe Dream. There may be a few trees a bit worse for wear due to our less than razor sharp navigation skills (yup, me included), and we did take up an entire table at Cloud Dine during peak hours (it can get real crowded). But everywhere we went infectious enthusiasm followed. One of the guys said it best, “It must be fun working at a place where everyone is always having so much fun.” Very, very true.
It was just one of those perfect days when everything clicks. The sun was shining like it only can in Utah. We had every groomer to ourselves and when we ventured off the corduroy, it seemed we hit each ideal section. We even managed to run into Wharton alum and former Charles Schwab CEO David Pottruck for a few laps. And most important, when we weren’t linking turns, we were engaged in laughter. By the end of the day, I think we all could have agreed that although prestigious and useful, it doesn’t take a business degree from world’s first collegiate business school to realize that the mountains beat the office . . . every time!