12.19.2014

The God of Skiing

Peter Kray is a ski writer. 

He was a blue-jacketed JH instructor when I met him. And now? He's been a trade editor (Ski Press), a magazine freelancer (Men's Journal, Mountain Gazette, plenty of others) and an online playa-cum-artiste (GearInstitute.com).

But he has also wanted to write a novel about skiing for a long time. A very long time. And now it's done.

With ink so fresh you should probably slap it, "The God of Skiing" rolled out to friends and friendly reviewers last week (hint: just in time for Christmas).  

Is it a coincidence that the self-published, square-bound tome fits nicely in a stocking hung by the chimney with care?  Probably. 

Is it a coincidence that the book fits perfectly, like it was designed for it, in the breast pocket of a CB ski jacket Definitely not.

"The God of Skiing" is a book written for passionate skiers by a passionate skier. The author says its a novel, but it's also a memoir of growing up in the straight-ski era ... From Colorado, to the East, and back to the West. The prose varies between impossibly tight and all-the-room-in-the-world spaciousness: a pace that reminds you of skiing on a big mountain, alternating between rocky chutes and unending powder fields. Or of song lyrics penned in a precious journal, accidentally left behind in a Leadville saloon. 

How did you get your start writing? My recollection was that you won that Subaru raffle in JH, flipped it for the cash, then scored a small Wyoming writing grant.

My dad got me started writing. He would always read to us (me and my brother) when we were little -- Hamlet, Last of the Mohicans, Treasure Island, and Call of the Wild. Adventure stuff. Then I would start to try and make up my own stories when he wasn't reading to us.

I sold that Subaru for $10,000 and bought a new pair of skis, was very popular at the Mangy Moose for a few nights, then just wasted the rest of the cash. I think that was the last year the ski team held the raffle. They didn't want to see another ski bum win a new car like that.


People write about gear and places to ski all the time... But writing about actually skiing?  Who does that?
Exactly. Who does do that? 

I really wrote the book I wanted to read. Ski literature is a pretty thin field, and I figured I owed the sport a book. I'm hoping it inspires a couple of my other ski writer friends to write their own. If Porter Fox, Matt Hansen, Andy Bigford, Devon O'Neil or Adam Howard write a ski novel, I'll be the first to buy it.

Who are your top five best skiers of all time?

Bode Miller, Franz Klammer, Doug Coombs, Lindsey Vonn, and Hermann "the Hermannator!" Maier himself. Next five? Anyone with the last name Zell, Shane McConkey, Scot Schmidt, Ted Ligety and Kjetil Andre Aamodt.

I bet you have at least three vintage Kastle posters hanging.  True story?

I used to have an original Jackson Hole Mountain Resort Cirque trail marker, but I think Bill Phipps or Bill Daley ended up with it. On the wall in my office are three framed Mountain Gazette covers, Doug Coombs from the POWDER Magazine memorial cover, Bode Miller racing at Soelden, Gram Parsons, and a picture Jonathan Selkowitz took of a brown bear bending a roadside snow depth marker looking like he's about to pole vault.

Who are your top five best ski writers of all time?

Ernest Hemingway (the last chapter in A Moveable Feast), James Salter (script for Downhill Racer), Romain Gary (The Ski Bum), Dick Barrymore (script for Last of the Ski Bums), and any ski travel piece by Porter Fox.

Where'd you ski as a kid? Winter Park?

Dad was a volunteer patroller at Vail with all his buddies, so we skied there for years. And after that on the ski train to Winter Park. In the winter I don't ever remember being asked, "What do you want to do this weekend?" It was just expected that we would be on the slopes.

Mole, chili relleno, or chorizo burrito?

It's weird, but Salt Lake City has better mole than we do in Santa Fe. So The Red Iguana gets the call in SLC. But here, it's Silver Coin margaritas and chile relleno RED (not green) at Maria's.

Who do you think is the best skier to ever wear a Denver Broncos uniform?

That's like asking what my favorite beer is. I'd say whichever one of them is on the slope. I'm pretty sure they all have a 'no-ski' clause in their contracts, but I remember John Elway doing an ad on the slopes once from the back of a limo with snowcat tracks, so I'll go with The Duke, of course.

Whaddaya want for Christmas?

More snow. The Broncos to win the Super Bowl. And more ski books.