The Snow Report
Shaun White. Franz Klammer. Ingemar Stenmark. Tanner Hall. Larry Olmsted.
What do these names have in common? And who the hell is Larry Olmsted? They are five of the many people who have skied or snowboarded their way into the pages of the world’s most famous record book. I am Larry Olmsted, and I currently hold a Guinness World Record for downhill skiing—a record you could break this winter.
That’s right, you could be immortalized as that guy (or gal) who broke a Guinness World Record in downhill skiing. You would get a cool certificate. Glory. Maybe even free beers at your local après haunt.
Breaking my record is not only possible, it not even that difficult. Depending on your skiing ability, you might not even have to train for it. I know this is true because I set the record back in March and I’m merely a solid advanced skier. Plus, I might know more about Guinness World Records than anybody else, as I literally wrote the book on the book, Getting Into Guinness: One Man’s Longest, Fastest, Highest Journey Inside the World’s Most Famous Record Book (Harper Collins, 2008). Having broken or set records for golf, marathon poker playing, and skiing, I’m not just telling you it can be done, I’m daring you. Double dog daring you. Break my record, please. Honestly, it’s not me you have to worry about in your pursuit of fame—it’s everyone else reading this story.
My record is for the “Most Pistes Skied in 8 Hours.” Translated from Guinness-speak, this means: the most different (repeats of the same run do not count) trails skied in their entirety (you can’t drop in halfway down) in under eight hours. The trails have to appear on the resort map or master plan—you can’t make them up. Length or difficulty doesn’t matter. They can be long or short, green or double black, but they have to be different and skied completely. The magic number is 64, the total pistes I skied alongside my co-record holder Jim Harlan on March 7, 2012, at Colorado’s Crested Butte resort.
This is how we did it.
First I had to pick a mountain. I live in Vermont, but chose Crested Butte because it’s a “skier’s mountain,” a place where passion trumps fashion. Also, knowing what I do about records I knew it would not last even a single season. In fact, I’d be disappointed in ski bums everywhere if it has not been broken and re-broken several times by spring. Because of its difficult terrain Crested Butte is hardly suited to a day of racing down as many slopes as possible. You’d probably have a relatively easy time topping 64 trails at a mountain loaded with groomed cruisers, someplace like Beaver Creek or Deer Valley—if (ahem) you like doing things the easy way.
Next, I found a ringer: Jim Harlan, the dispatcher for Crested Butte’s ski patrol. When he was a teenager, Harlan brok his neck diving into a swimming pool and became a quadriplegic but he went on to capture national and world titles in handcycling. He’s a highly talented mono skier with an intimate knowlede of Crested Butte’s trails—an especially valuable attribute when it came to setting our record.