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john-wilberding

King Winter John Wilberding with Skiyente member Linda Hilliard Matusow

It was a perfect day to celebrate the coronation of a new King Winter. The temperature was bitterly cold, the wind was almost gale-force, the snow wasn't just falling – it was blasting down.  Only those who truly love winter and the kind of weather that would put snow on Mt. Hood would dare to venture outside.

Embracing the brutal conditions, about 30 members of the Skiyente Ski Club sang and danced their way down Main Street in Government Camp from the Mt. Hood Museum to Charlie's bar. Festooned with bright beads and skiing medals, they faced into the driving snow and navigated drifts and ice clumps, carrying banners, shotskis (skis with 5 ski boot shot glasses glued on), and the King's throne. Skiyente prides itself on its strong women, and that is an essential trait for carrying the throne, which is constructed from 4 pairs of skis. To the joyful clanging of cowbells, they marched, slid on the ice, and skillfully managed complicated drill team maneuvers.

Here is a video from Bruce Kuper showing the festivities:

 

Julie Rasmussen and other Skiyente members carrying the throne.

The star of the parade was John Wilberding, the King-elect. Whooping and laughing, the parade entered Charlie's, to the astonishment of the patrons. As Charlie's was transformed into a winter wonderland by the decorations (shimmery showflakes and balloons), the time-honored tradition of the shotski was performed. This activity is a team effort and requires coordination and commitment, or the shotskier is left with embarrassing dribbles running down the chin and hoots from the crowd. After King-elect John finished his shotski (with no dribbles), he announced. “You ladies may have to pay for all this in some future life. You have way too much fun.”

The next event was the annual King Winter dinner at the museum, held to honor all the kings, past and present, men, women and couples. Several who had planned to attend were unable to. This was no night for driving. Many, however, braved the storm, including John's daughter Lisa Wilberding Hargrave of the Mt. Hood Ski Patrol, the 1967 King, Lee Perry, Mt. Hood's beloved grand dame of skiing, Maryanne Hill (1990) and our current King John. Other Kings attending were:

  • 1975 King Matt Greenslade,
  • 1993 Pat Greenslade,
  • 2001 King Diane Hicks,
  • 2002 King Jeannie Hummel,
  • 2003 King Bud Valian,
  • 2009 King Jack Nantz,
  • 2010 King Shelley Sperr Hakanson,
  • 2011 King Lloyd Musser, and
  • 2012 King Dale & Sheri Parshall.

There is no doubt that some enterprising writer should gather these men and women together and compile all their stories of Mt. Hood and Government camp. What a fascinating and entertaining book that would be!

Here is a picture of John with Maryanne Hill:

In the meantime, efforts were being made to get the band up to the mountain. The members were intimidated by the road conditions. The solution was for all them to get to a central location and we would collect them. Unfortunately, as the band member with all the equipment was attempting to do this, he slid into a ditch. Fortunately no one was injured and the equipment was fine.

One band member arrived with a new fiance. He and his girlfriend had planned a romantic weekend up at the mountain and had driven up before the storm. They had gone to high school together 40 years ago, reconnected last year, and got engaged in a hot tub just before coming to the King Winter Dance.

The King Coronation was held at 8 pm. There were several Ski Patrollers there to celebrate with John, as well as about a dozen past kings. They even serenaded him with a song. With crown, scepter and royal cloak, surrounded by new friends and old ones, King John had a grin on his face the entire evening. When asked what he planned to do as King, he replied, “First I'm going to dance with every Skiyente woman here.” And he did.

The author of this article, Alice Jacklet, is a Skiyente Ski Club member, a PACRAT and Masters racer, and an amazing ski mom and ski grandmother.