Fond memories of the slope-shredding ‘Powder Pigs’ | SierraSun.com
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Fond memories of the slope-shredding ‘Powder Pigs’

Greetings from Utah. The Nicholls family and friends are enjoying their annual ski trip to Snowbird.

Our time share is at the base of Snowbird which is just 25 miles out of Salt Lake City in the Little Cottonwood Canyon in the Wasatch Mountains. Alta ski area is just another two miles up the road.

With us this year are fellow Truckee residents and timeshare owners Bill and Pat Johnson and the Bashford family ” Gregg, Cindy, Bodie, and their newest addition, Dillon. Alan’s best friend, Matt Williams (raised in Truckee and now living in Denver) and his bride of five months, Rebecca, have also joined us. Matt is the son of Linda and Bernie Williams of Northstar. Rounding out our group are three of Alan’s friends from his college years at UCLA: Mark Kachner, Marcus Zalewski and his fiancee Samantha.



We skied pretty hard for about four hours this morning, so I peeled out to rest my burning thighs and to get this column started. It’s hard to concentrate as I am looking out a two-story window at the ski hill. It is beginning to snow and the wind is picking up. Supposedly it is going to snow 1 to 2 feet tonight, so hopefully we will have plenty of fresh powder to attack in the morning. This is what we pray for every year!

Much of our passion for skiing came from our many years of involvement in the Truckee Park and Recreation District’s Buddy Werner Learn to Race Program. We became involved in the program when Alan was 7 years old. At that time there were only about 25 kids participating in the program and it was held at the Tahoe Donner ski hill. Former recreation supervisor David Dill was in charge of the ski program.



In the winter of 1986/87 a “young” Dan O’Gorman took over the program. During his nearly 20 years of leading the program, he continued to make it better and better. The program also changed venues several times from Tahoe Donner, to Soda Springs, to Donner Ski Ranch, and one year at Northstar and back to Soda Springs.

The program was, and still is, designed to teach young children how to better their ski skills and to learn the basics of racing. Parents and volunteer coaches do the teaching, course setting and time keeping. In the years we were in the program it was a really fun “family get together.”

Every Sunday during the season the day would begin by organizing the kids into their teams for a few runs while the course was being set up. We normally set up side-by-side courses so the kids would race one course, then later the other. Although only their race times counted, the fact that there was another racer on the adjacent course made it more fun.

After the races we usually stopped for lunch, and then the parents and kids would go out together for free skiing. A lot of the kids used to love to go through the powder and crud, and we nicknamed them the “Powder Pigs.” Often times a group of families would wind up the day by going to Pizza Junction for pizza.

Over the years the list of Powder Pigs, racers, coaches, parent helpers, etc. grew and grew. Some of the many participants that we can remember included: Bruce and Susan Turner and their daughters Alex and Megan; Debbie Scribner (now Gerdin) and her kids Betsy and Seth; Peter Gerdin and his two sons (I can only remember Matt); Eric Anderson (has coached for 15 years!), and his children Christopher, Lindsey, and Sharon; Mike and Becky Kerton and their daughters Malayna and Jessie; Brian and Lorna Smart and their son’s Ryan and Kurt; Russ and Kappy Mann and their daughter Montana; Karin and Mike Bechtoldt and their daughter Molly; Peter Kolp and his children Anika and Jackson; Brian DeVoe and his son, Troy; John and Sharon Margraf and their son, Kurt; Steve and Linda Cane and their children Johnny and Sandy; Dennis DeCoite and his son’s Daniel, David, and Jimmy; Don Schaller and his son Kane; Liz Rehkop and her daughter Sunny; the Dettweiller brothers, Mike and Eric; Neysa and Max Williams; Stu Wells and his son “Stuey” (sp?); Paul and Diane Thomasello and their son, Scott; Mike and Susie Phebus and their son, Grant; and many more.

During my last two years of coaching, Dean and Sharon Cook signed up their two children Stacy and Gary. As many of you know, Stacy went on from this recreation league, went to the Northstar Ski Team, then worked her way up to the U.S. Ski Team.

This lovely young lady is an excellent example of what you can do and where you can go in Truckee. And, she doesn’t forget her roots either. According to Dan O’Gorman, Stacy was home recently for just a few days, and she took the time out to go ski with the Buddy Werner kids and signed autographs for them.

Way to go Stacy. And the best of luck in your racing and your life this year.

The nickname that was given to the town’s giant snowblower that was purchased to work in the higher elevations of town was “Big Blue.” We really thought many people would remember this name, but we were wrong.

Leah Krone was the first answer in and guessed “Chewy,” an appropriate name, but wrong! Our only right answer came from Dennis Mulloy, who had to be coaxed and prodded ” but he got it! That question must have been a “stumper!”


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