I used to think that we Grayz on Trayz were the bad boys on the hill. Then I rode with the Targheezers and found out who the real bad boys are. Those of you who frequent Grand Targhee Ski Resort have undoubtedly seen the Targheezers, clad in their signature traffic-cone orange and gray ski suits, rocketing down hill, white bushy beads flying in the breeze like Santas run amok.
The Targheezers is a club of nine senior citizen skiers, the youngest of whom, Phil Reed, is 69, and the eldest, Bob Engstrom, is 87. All save one, Ben Kempstra, 73, are residents of Teton Valley. William Belk, 82, Roy Walters, 78, Richard Berg, 73, Bill Royall, 71, Roland Schuler, 77 and Larry Slotta, 85, round out this merry band of rogues.
The ‘Gheezers have no formal leader. My primary contact was Larry Slotta. Larry was raised in Cody, Wyoming and has been skiing since age six. He learned on wooden skis using hand cut inner tubes for bindings. (Kids, ask your grandparents what an inner tube is.) Larry hits the hill almost daily; during the 2018-2019 season he skied 131 days. He tracks his vertical with a Ski Tracks app; last season he skied a total of 1,613,106 vertical feet and a distance of 1,709.4 miles. Wow. Legs like sequoias no doubt. In 2017 he hit a top speed of 78.2 mph, which is sick and wrong at any age.
The Targheezers got their start six years ago when a good friend, Suzanne Arden, bought each a baseball cap with “Targheezer” emblazoned across the front and a long white pony tail, a’la Willie Nelson, down the back. Roland Schuler had the distinctive orange and gray ski suits made up, and Larry Slotta designed their mondo cool winged helmet sticker.
The Targheezers is a very informal social club, essentially good friends who like to get together and ski. No officers, no schedules, no dues, just meet on the hill and go for it. Membership is however by invitation only.
I know what you’re thinking: Jim, would you like to be a Targheezer? In the immortal words of Groucho Marx: “I don’t care to belong to any club that will have me as a member.”
Besides, at 68 I’m much too young. Call me in a decade or so boys.
Alas, many of my peers have retired and devolved into a vegetative state; their primary physical activity entails thumbing the remote for their wide screen TV’s. Or, worse yet, they hang out at golf courses. The Targheezers on the other hand have chosen to defy the aging process, engaging in their passion for the strenuous physical activity of skiing as well as social interaction with congenial friends. So a tip of my helmet to you, Targheezers. Turn those pacemakers up to eleven and let ‘er rip!
That’s it for this time kids. Remember, respect your elders. Call your mom. See you on the hill.