Teresa Smith was 10 when her father taught her to ski near their Cedar Rapids home. They stuck to local and area slopes — Sundown Mountain Resort near Dubuque and Chestnut Mountain Resort in Galena, Ill. — and would sometimes travel to ski areas across the Midwest.
“We never headed to the Northwest, I never saw the big mountains,” she said. “We just skied where we could closer to home.”
When she was 13, her father joined a ski club and other skiing enthusiasts on trips to local slopes.
Fast-forward 30 years and Smith and her husband, Larry Smith — another ski buff — joined the East Iowa Ski Club, where Smith just completed a year as the group’s president.
“He took me out West for the first time, to Telluride, Colo.,” she said of her husband. “We drove. I had never been to or through the mountains before — it was just so amazing.”
On that trip, she was new to the mountains and to the ski club. The members, she said, were a bit apprehensive about her abilities since they’d never skied with her before.
“They were all surprised that I could ski so well,” she recalled. “My dad did a really great job of teaching me.”
Smith loves being outdoors all year. In the summers, she and Larry go camping, sometimes with other members of the ski club, or kayaking and hiking or on picnics and to wine tastings. But it’s the winter, she said, that has her heart.
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“When I’m skiing is when I’m at my happiest,” she said. “For me, snow is just an amazing, calming, beautiful thing. It’s always been that way. I got that from my mother. Dad taught me to ski, but Mom was the one who truly loved snow.”
While Smith caught the ski bug from her parents, she wasn’t able to pass it along to her daughter.
“Skiing just didn’t take with my daughter,” Smith said, laughing. “She was supposed to be my ski buddy, but that didn’t work out.”
Larry’s oldest son skis and his son’s wife is learning the ropes, Smith said. She’s got her eye on her 18-month-old grandson, too.
Their daughter-in-law, she said, is “doing great — she’s learning, so we’re really priming them to get this grandson ready,” she said.
Though you wouldn’t know it from its name, the East Iowa Ski Club is a year-round social group, with summer outings to bike, camp, fish, kayak — all the activities the Smiths enjoy.
And in the winter, Smith noted, the club isn’t just for skiers.
“We do so much more than skiing,” Smith said. “We have people who ski, who snowboard, who snowshoe, who go cross-country skiing, and those who just come for the social aspect.”
The ski club isn’t just for Eastern Iowans either.
Among its 160 or so members, Smith said, are people from eastern, northeastern and central Iowa and a few other areas. The club meets once a month, often to discuss plans for future trips and listen to a guest speaker, and sometimes for special occasions such as a Christmas party.
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“A lot of it is about planning our trips,” she said. “We do a trip to Sundown, one to Baraboo, Wis., and we make sure there are always things on each trip for the non-skiers to do as well. Sometimes you’ll have a partner or spouse who wants to go but isn’t a skier — so we’ll see if there’s a casino nearby, or hiking trails, wineries. Something else they can do while we’re skiing. Then we all get together in the evening.”
The club’s annual dues are $30 for an individual or $60 for a family. With those fees, members get reduced lift and equipment charges and discounted travel trips, such as Smith’s first trip to Telluride. More information can be found on the club’s website, eastiowaskiclub.com.
“You don’t have to be a skier, and you don’t really even have to be athletic,” she said. “It’s basically a group of people who like to get together and do things.”