January 31st was a very special day at Mt. Hood Meadows. Not because it was the end of a month, or that we are nearing the midpoint of the season. It was because of a special birthday that was celebrated on the slopes at Mt. Hood Meadows by longtime instructor, John Samuelson.
John turned 96 on Sunday, and he chose to celebrate his birthday on skis. John taught at Meadows for more than 20 years and literally changed the lives of tens of thousands of people by introducing them to the mountain and the sport that we all love. John learned to ski at age 40 (after he served in the Marine Corps) and began teaching at age 60! He was an instructor in our SnoBlasters program, and enjoyed teaching young people how to navigate down the mountain.
KGW Story- ad will play then show a video of John's day at Meadows.
John arrived early, before instructor lineup, thanks to his son, Ken (also a former Meadows instructor), and his daughter-in-law, Spring. Our instructors welcomed John, sang happy birthday, and shared stories. John serves as an inspiration for our entire professional instructor team.
But enough of the singing - John was ready to click in and take a few runs. “This is more of a celebration than sitting down, eating a piece of cake,” he said. He slid over to Buttercup, rode up with Spring, and took his first run of the day, accompanied by KGW videographer, Ken McCormick. John still showed off his perfect technique - gliding effortless from edge to edge, carving controlled turns down to the maze and back on the lift again.
“I love it,” he said. “You see people having a good time, it makes you feel good,” reflecting on how he got as much or more out of teaching than those he taught. “I get through skiing and I feel, I feel younger,” John said. The day was cut short, as low-lying clouds socked in, limiting visibility. John said he'll wait for a sunnier day, and take on more lifts later this season.
After decades of instructing others, John is still teaching us a thing or two about how to live our best life. "It’s good to get out and feel, 'Well hey, I’m pretty young and I can do it'," John said. "And the only way you can do that is to do something like this."
Thanks to Ken McCormick, Brittany Falkers, and KGW for this story.