Wind: 0 mph
As we ski the contour-hugging terrain, true challenging trails, at Mad River Glen, we’ll have Ken Quackenbush to thank. This quiet, unassuming gentleman who in his subtle manner was the glue, the conduit, who as general manager for 45 years under three owners kept the particular Skiers’ Mountain within the vision of its founder Roland Palmedo. He came to MRG in 1952 at the invitation of its founder whom he met while kayaking at North Creek, New York.
We ski it because we can – due to Ken’s determination to preserve the mountain as nature intended while allowing the public to enjoy its rugged beauty. His truthful ski reports were legend among writers who admired his upfront reporting even when the conditions were bad. And Ken knew them to be true. He was the first skier on the mountain every morning and intimately familiar with every inch of most of the trails because he had stood alongside Palmedo when they were laid out.
In the words of former owner Betsy Pratt, “Quackenbush is the genius behind Mad River.”
Personally, if my ski writing is in any way truly reflective of the sport, it was Ken who patiently guided me to better understand the intricacies of skiing as well as the industry.
A rugged outdoorsman since his early days of skiing the Adirondacks, sailing was his passion. He was often seen on Lake Champlain sailing alone, laid back with his feet on the gunnels, aboard his beloved 32-foot boat with full sails running at top speed before the wind: direct contrast to his typical slow stance and languishing stride.
This is how I will always remember Ken and celebrate his life: a man who appeared to be at peace with himself.