LAKE TAHOE, Nevada. — “We’re all taking ourselves way too seriously in the world today,” said skiing great Glen Plake speaking about different ski competitions, different ski disciplines, and different Pit Viper sunglasses, with which he’s launching a partnership. The US National Hall of Fame skier spoke to TownLift over the phone on Friday from his childhood hometown near Heavenly Ski Area a few days before he takes off for a Europe trip. That quote, a sum of his philosophies, however, could just as likely have been said by Plake decades ago.
While in Europe, he may get to start his average 200 days a year on snow in any number of countries, and hemispheres.
Known as the pioneer of extreme skiing, when asked what his favorite ski flicks are, he doesn’t say his own, like The Blizzard of Ahhh’s, he’ll refer you to watch 1969’s World Cup and direct your focus to specific quotes from the likes of Billy Kidd interacting with Spider Sabich.
Glen highly admires the awe-inspiring tricks and talents of present-day athletes, but when asked who he’d take with him on a bluebird powder day if he had a few empty seats on a helicopter, he would fill the seats of the chopper with outdoor adventure cinematographers Roger Brown and John Jay, the counterparts who complete the Warren Miller famous filmmaker trifecta.
Of his 200 days, Professional Ski Instructor of America (PSIA) days totally count as he is an active examiner. He feels like he’s going to get in trouble one day though because he proudly wears an old-school pin from when instructors were either Associate level or Certified level instead of a modern-era, three-level pin. The pin was given to him by an elderly gentleman who called the former era instructors much more colorful, derogatory names than is publishable here, noting the bygone times where individuality wasn’t as recognized nor praised as it is today in the industry. He implored Plake, “Don’t be those guys.” Plake thoroughly enjoys his duties on and off the hill with the “wonderful organization” and say’s he tries to be a cool examiner and make his exam environment as cool as it can be. After all, he had to “work his *** off” in pursuit and achievement his own PSIA full certification.
He laughed as he said, “I always have my pencil tucked in above my ear ready to write down candidates’ answers to my open-ended questions keeping them on their toes and never giving a definitive answer myself.” Plake waxed rhapsodic about the most loved and hated job on skis, that of a PSIA examiner. He acknowledged that there are, “level two instructors who are more qualified than me at ski instructing in many ways because they’re living, breathing, eating and sleeping it. They may not have the skiing skills quite yet to meet the standards of that level three certification but their teaching skills are unbelievable, it’s awesome. Ski school and ski patrol are really the only two viable skiing jobs out there.”
One reason why he wanted to get his full cert is he’s passionate about international mountain guiding and works with the Alpine Mountain Guide Association (AMGA) in the US and literally conducting ski school in Nepal aiming to streamline ski safety skills throughout the industry and throughout the world. He’s founded a foundation called RG2 for Remy, Glen, and Greg after two aspirant mountain guides who lost their lives in a mountain accident.
An emphatic, “Every discipline.” is Plake’s answer to questions regarding what he likes to cheer and champion in competitive skiing. “They all absolutely intrigue and inspire me. I’ll watch biathlon, nordic combined, dual moguls, downhill, slopestyle, big air, all of it, they’re all amazing.”
What’s not amazing, though, is how skiers have negative nicknames for others in other disciplines, that’s gotta stop. “They think it’s funny but it’s not funny. What’s funny is when my buddies yesterday made fun of me on the bike trail for wearing my spandex. We can all get a good laugh watching ski ballet from the ’70s and ’80s, now that was funny. Did it have anything to do with skiing, I don’t know but it’s fun and trippy to see it and we say, ‘Wow, did you see what that girl just did on a pair of skis?’ Like if you ever get a chance to watch nordic ski flying, not just ski jumping but the crazy-cool sport of ski flying, watch it. Does it have anything to do with skiing, I don’t know but it’s fun and trippy and we see it and say, ‘Wow, did you see what that guy just did on a pair of skis?'”
His love affair with the sport of skiing makes him want others to have a similar perfect experience to which he said, “We’re too small of a sport for namecalling and disrespect, our pie isn’t that big so why are we slicing ourselves into these little social, logistical and monetary factions?”
When discussing the launch of his Pit Viper sunglasses, Plake said, “Let’s face it, a lot of people see my head and I always wore Pit Vipers anyway.” Utah-based Pit Viper is the underground juggernaut you may not have heard of but your kids have been racking up thousands of views on social media channels to watch unboxing videos. Buying Pit Vipers is where all their money is going.
Plake and Pit Viper reached out to each other serendipitously. “The effortless way they are able to bring my stupid ideas to fruition in an expeditious, creative, innocent, and genuine way is what’s exciting about teaming up together.”
He respects how Pit Viper “does their own dang thing.” Plake renames the Pit Vipers he wears, i.e, he rocks the Money Counters model but calls them his Rockfords since they look like the ones worn on the old Rockford Files tv show. Then he calls his Intimidators his Earnhardt’s because they look like ones from the racetrack and he likes to joke, “Respect the three” when wearing them.
Plake talks about how he digs being a part of the cool kids club with that subtle but knowing head nod out on the mountains nowadays among the growing number of Pit Viper wearers.
Read the box, Plake said of new Pit Vipers, the company is, “the first to make a joke out of things and they never take themselves too seriously.”