By Sarah Blow, contributing writer 

Longtime Valley Reporter ski columnist Peter Oliver learned to ski a long way away from the Mad River Valley. He first hit the slopes in Europe at the age of 7.


“My father was in the U.S. government back in the 60s and he was stationed in Munich for three years so we would do regular trips to Austria and Switzerland as a family and that’s where I learned to ski,” he said.

Though Oliver, Warren, has written a bi-weekly Nordic skiing column at The Valley Reporter for over a decade, he was solely an alpine skier until adulthood.

“Alpine skiing was the thing we were doing when we were growing up; we didn't do any Nordic at all. I actually didn't get into Nordic skiing until probably my late 30s,” he said.

He was introduced to the sport in the 1980s when skate skiing was growing in popularity.

“I liked the look of skating. It looked like it was fun and fast so that’s how I got into Nordic. It was kind of like a backdoor thing coming from alpine to skating and then to classic technique,” he said.

Oliver turned his love of skiing and English degree from the University of Pennsylvania into an award-winning journalism career. His ski columns have been featured in notable magazines including USA Today, The Boston Globe and the New York Times. 


In 2018 Oliver was awarded the Paul Robbins Journalism Award in recognition of his contributions to ski writing. 

The award recognizes ski and snowboard journalists who, with the same commitment as Paul Robbins, perform their skill in written, broadcast or photojournalism with ethics, humor, good taste and always with the promotion of Vermont skiing and snowboarding and the larger communities in mind, according to The Vermont Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame.

“It’s kind of a lifetime achievement award to some degree which made me feel a little bit old, but nevertheless, it’s very rewarding to feel that your career has been recognized,” he said.

The northern Virginia native is also the author of six books including “Stowe: Classic New England” which was awarded the Ullr Award from the International Ski History Association.

Although Oliver’s skiing career has taken him to a plethora of picturesque destinations, one of his favorite ski memories happened in the Mad River Valley following an unexpected early-season snowfall.

A pre-Thanksgiving snowstorm in the late 1990s prompted Sugarbush to open the mountain on a whim to local powderhounds itching to enjoy the unusual snowfall. 

“That one day with two beautiful feet of fresh snow, maybe 100 or 200 skiers on the mountain entirely, was great. It was an absolutely beautiful day at Sugarbush,” he said.

Blow is a student in UVM’s Community News Service which pairs student writers with local newspapers.