Riding chairlifts is a normal, seemingly uneventful part of an average ski day. But chances are you’ll run into a few interesting folks while ascending the resort.

Like a wedding reception dance floor when Footloose gets blasted to 11, ski towns have a tendency to attract characters ready to fly their own flag. And chairlifts are the glue that binds us. Be on the look out for these five characters the next time you saddle up on the lift.

So many colorful characters to meet. Photo: Daniel Frank/Unsplash

The “Silver Back” Skier

Are those skis from 1982? Are those leather boots? Is that sun-worn jacket composed of mostly duct tape patches? Does that beard smell like nostalgia? Yes, the Silver Back is a skier from yesteryear – Back when skiing in this town was really skiing. It wasn’t all commercialized like it is today. Lift tickets were stickers that were folded over wickets, and they cost only a hay penny or a high-five.

When schlooshing down the mountain, the Sliver Back is methodical, milking every turn, gliding in an existential dance with the terrain and with spirituality. The Silver Back is the Bodhisattva skier, reaching a wintery nirvana with every genuflecting arch of enlightenment. (Also, this skier will gladly eat the leftover pizza crust on forgotten cafeteria trays.)

The “Too Cool For Ski School” Skier

Through some sort of all black park rat neck gator and saggy-baggy beanie combo probably covers this skier’s face, the TCFS skier is not going to talk to you. They will sit at the end of the chair, aloof and annoyed by your desire to share the same oxygen.

Though they’ve only lived in this ski town for six months, your touristic intrusion is unbearable. The only thing louder than the TCFS skier’s afterbang indifference is their bloated self-image. A cartoon thought bubble may appear above this skier’s melon, reading: I am cool because you are not. #Claimed.

The possibilities of characters are endless. Photo: Courtesy of Ricardo Gomez Angel/Unsplash

The “I’m In a Fight With My Significant Other” Skier

Skiing was a bad choice today. This skier is buzzing with frustration. Their significant other is as well. It’s a fight, and you're stuck with it for the length of the chairlift. This will not be a fun ride for you (or them, for that matter).

This skier will close-talk their significant other with the tell-tale sign of a near nuclear relationship meltdown: the whisper yell. You won’t be able to hear everything but you will make out curt phrases murmured from just beneath goggles.

Phrases like, “I just don’t understand” and “Seriously?!” You will want to ski away as quickly as possible from this skier and their S.O. Bad things are ahead for them, things like, “We need to have a talk.”

You never know who you’re going to be stuck next to. Photo: Courtesy of Steven Taylor/Unsplash

The “I’m (Embarrassed That I Am) New At This” Skier

We’ve all been there. It’s the first day (or maybe second) for this skier. The gear is new and unfamiliar, as is the chairlift. Wide-eyes will meet yours as this skier tries to time a sit-down on what must seem to be a bone-crushing metal chair slinging around a metal rope at an unknown hyper-speed.

Chances are, this skier is wearing seven to 57 layers – regardless of weather – goggles are fogged, and their exposed forehead is a red and chapped bridge of embarrassment spanning the six inches between goggles and helmet. You need to steady this skier, calm their nerves the same way you would a spooked horse in a thunderstorm.

The loading of the chair is only the first obstacle. The unload is where the sh*t can hit the proverbial fan. Help this skier, but from a safe distance.

The “Super Stoked” Skier

This is a great skier to share a chair with. Tell-tale signs of this fun-loving human are frostbit teeth from an omni-present smile, whoops-n-hollers, PG-13 appropriate rejoiceful cursing, a quiver of high-fives, covered in snow. The Super Stoked skier is going to be psyched to sit with you for the ride and even more excited to talk skiing with you.

There’s a good chance you’ll here about their life story, how they quit there soul-crushing job, and moved to this town to pursue smiling. There’s an even better chance that you’ll unload the chairlift with a smile of your own. You are now the Super Stoked skier. Pass it on, friend.

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