The slippery slopes of dating

Columnist discusses his dysfunctional ability to stay upright on skiing dates

Posted: Sunday, January 10, 2010

Arms flailing, out of control on one ski, zeroing in on a parked snow cat plow - this was me on my first outdoor date.

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Klas Stolpe / Juneau Empire
Klas Stolpe / Juneau Empire

Aside from the three straight exits from the ski lift, in which my tips caught and I face planted, and where the lift operator finally just stopped the chair and let me off, the date went well. For her.

She met a ski instructor, they married and had kids who went on to be Olympic contenders in various disciplines on the slopes. They may even have their own line of ski equipment in my honor.

I, on the other hand, resembled a young Jerry Lewis, screeching at the top of my lungs, "Hey lady, whooooaaaaooooo," and being chased by local clergy intent on exorcism.

Juneau's ski dates are about getting outside.

Miles Byington and Lauren Dahlgren are dating and love the slopes - and each other - enough that Dahlgren has moved from New York.

"We first met on a whale cruise this summer and started hanging out," Byington said. "She wanted to learn to ski, and so we are here a lot. I'm a snowboarder and she's a skiier, but we don't hold it against each other. You get to hang out on the chair lift. There's not many activities in Juneau where you can get out with your girlfriend and hang out with your friends at the same time, and still get exercise."

"It's a rush out here," Dahlgren added, "and I get to enjoy the weather on the slopes."

Sometimes skiing couples marry, like Connie McKenzie and Mitch Deely.

"Actually we were ski buddies," McKenzie said. "We became more than ski buddies and we got married five years after that."

"We all used to meet in McDonald's downtown to carpool up here," Deely added. "She and I always went together. Skiing is a great way to meet people, it worked for us."

Good friends Katie Strehler and Hunter Kirkpatrick, both 15, just like hanging out on the slopes. Their "dates" are just buddies having a good time. Strehler started skiing at age 5 and Kirkpatrick 7. Like many of Juneau's ski bums, they progress up the lifts on Hooter, Ptarmigan and now Black Bear.

"It is just fun to go fast," Strehler said. "Eaglecrest slopes are fun."

Outdoors in winter are all about being there, being with someone whether just a friend or something more. With ample opportunities to snowshoe, ice skate, cross-country or downhill ski, winter is like a dance card - just sign your name next to someone you want to have fun with.

So, now, on my second ski date ever, I strap on my newest pair of "Flailing Arms" downhill skis, adjust my "Crazy Klas" reinforced kevlar ski helmet and push off on shiny new "Poles Not Swedes" ski poles - all items in the Klas line of ski wear. (Thank you very much, ex-first-date).

My partner of the hour floats like an angel down the slope, following behind the thighs of some huge ex-Norwegian Olympic downhill medalist on the ski patrol, and I, like a magnet, zero in on three tons of parked metal snow machine at the lift shack.

When I come to, my date is looking down at me.

"You are funny," she smiles. "Lets go back up again."

• Klas Stolpe is not a marriage counselor but is just trying to find dating help for singles. Contact Klas Stolpe at

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