The Vert Top 10 of 2016

The 2015-16 season will go down in the books as the most amazing ever recorded on our beloved Big Mountain near Whitefish~! So many great stories, personal bests, and historic vert accomplishments occurred.  We’ll see if I can do justice to recounting a few of them.

CONGRATULATIONS to Ken Jones, the henceforth and forever more, King of Big Mountain Vert~!  Nobody could’ve foreseen that a Nebraskan would transplant to Whitefish and show us all how it is done.  But, that is exactly what happened.

Ken skied an amazing, 8,058,144 vertical feet, crushing Tony Cooper’s record (of 5,612,746′) from the 2013 season by nearly 2.5 million vertical feet.  To put that in perspective, the amount Ken beat the old record by, was enough to be better than 8th place on this years Top 10 list. Three Top 10 finishers spent their whole season skiing to a total less than his margin of victory over the previous record.  Truly unbelievable~!

To set the new record, Ken skied 122 days of the 128 day season.  Of those 122 days, he skied bell to bell, including night skiing, every day since New Years, minus one day to watch football and one rainy day, when his gear soaked through early in the day. He used the rest of the rainy day developing a gear strategy that prevented that from ever happening again.

Ken’s quest for the Big Mountain record was as impressive for the rest of us to witness as it was for him to do. Ken skied with an effortlessness and grace while making 66,000 feet per day look easy. Vert veterans know that it is anything but easy, especially considering the 70 days with new snow that he powered through.  To add even further perspective to Ken’s record season, he skied more this year than Fred Frost and I put together.   It wasn’t like Fred and I took the year off.  I skied 122 days, averaging over 34,000’/day. Fred skied over 110 days or so, and averaged over 34,000’/day too.  It was mindboggling how much Ken got done on a daily basis!

I do believe it is safe to say, Ken’s record will never be broken, unless some quantum leap in lift technology allows for us to get up the mountain exponentially quicker. Some day perhaps, but not likely any time soon.

Polite and respectful, Ken made fans of the resort’s staff and competitors alike. He was a terrific example for all of us. Not once did I see him call attention to himself with annoying, aggressive skiing.  Sure, he was aggressive, but just not while around other skiers.  Many obnoxious Big Mountain skiers and snowboarders could learn a valuable lesson in respect for others from Ken’s example.Ken Jones

All of us tip our caps to Ken Jones’ ski accomplishments.  You aren’t in Nebraska anymore. You’re a Whitefish legend now! Congratulations~! Enjoy it~!

Joining Ken in this years Top 10 was a cast of the usual suspects and some surprise newcomers too.

Yours truly finished second, with my best year yet, in a year that I didn’t win, skiing 4.1 million vertical feet, collecting my 9th consecutive Top 3 finish.

This year’s comeback skier of the year had to be Albin Kwolek~!  Al came back from last year’s broken leg to ski over 4 Million vertical feet and finish with his first Top 3/podium result. Nice job Al~!  Al’s final week of the season was an impressive display in its own right.   He skied around 300,000 vertical feet through the spring slop conditions to get to the 4 million mark.  Our hats are off to your accomplishments too~!

Coming in 4th, was Sue Armstrong, who crushed K Yobst’s Ladies Vert Record from last year (3.16 million feet).  Sue’s 3.9 Million vertical feet skied would have undoubtedly been over 4 million, had she not spent some time skiing down in Utah this season too.  Well done Sue~!

Perennial powerhouse, Fred Frost skied over 3.75 million feet in his 13th consecutive Top 10 finish, this year placing 5th.  Fred remains the standard for durability, commitment and long-term vert accomplishments.  He’s skied over 50 million vertical feet over the last 13 years.  No one else has even skied 40 million.

Earning his first Top 10 and finishing 6th, with over 2.7 million feet skied was former Vermont ski patroller, Paul Descoteau.  Welcome to the Top 10 club Paul!

In 7th place and repeating in the Top 10  for the third consecutive season was Mark (formerly listed as John) Sanman, skiing a personal best 2,582,693′. Nicely done.

Rejoining the Top 10 this season for the second time, David “Curly’ Keith, finished 8th, with 2.37 million feet.  Welcome back to the Top 10 Curly.

For the first time ever, a sub-adult joined the ranks of the overall Top 10.  Simon Roston (a Whitefish middle-schooler, in his 2nd year skiing) defied the odds and the demands of going to school full-time and crushed his home-schooled peers, finishing 9th overall. Simon was often seen on weekends and at night, skiing with Ken Jones. Congratulations Simon~!

Rounding out the Top 10 was Jeanne Reichstadt, earning her 4th overall Top 10 finish. Welcome back Jeanne!

Congratulations to this year’s Top 10~!Top 10 - 2016

Who among you will take it upon yourself to join these ranks next season?

As always, I welcome constructive inputs to correct/complete the record. Just holler. JDPF

**The Vert Era at Whitefish Mountain (formerly the Big Mountain) Resort just finished it’s 13th season of empirically measured skiing.  Each skier’s season pass gets electronically scanned prior to each chairlift ride, thus tallying, in effect, how much we ski.  Each lift services a known quantity of vertical feet serviced and skied.  Tracking the vert program combines three passions of mine–skiing, niche history, and conventional math.  It seems only natural that I archive the records~!**  For whatever that is worth.  That is all.




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