Mike, the Man from Michigan, is Mike Krushinsky, and he’s been skiing for over five decades. Now in his late 70’s, Mike has a motto, “Can’t Stop Now, Now that I can afford it.” I had the pleasure to meet Mike on an 8-minute chairlift ride at the Powder Mountain Ski Resort in Eden, Utah in March, 2016. I was on location with my company, Escape2ski – a travel planning website that provides information on ski travel, finding ski resort jobs and ski resorts in Canada and the United States.
As we made our way to the top of the hill, we each shared a story or two about our journey to Utah. At the end of the ride, we chatted for a few more minutes and discovered we both had a passion for the skiing and ski travel. It’s hard to believe that this chance meeting with Mike, the Man from Michigan, who I physically met for all of 15 minutes, would lead to two kindred spirits, continuing to share our love of skiing, long after we left the mountain. Over the past year, I’ve had the privilege to learn more about Mike, his family and his ski journey for the past 50 years.
Like me, Mike is a collector of souvenirs ski pins. The pins are our way of documenting our ski adventures. At the time of writing this article, Mike has visited 68 ski areas, stretching from his home State of Michigan, where he jokes “that your never more than 5 minutes away from your boot bag”, through eight other states, including Vermont, Colorado, Ohio, New York, Utah, Nevada, California, and Wyoming. He’s also made stops north of the border in Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia, Canada. Mike’s working career was in sales and marketing for large US companies and later for Der Dienst, a business he started and successfully operated for many years, but he always made time for skiing.
Mike, the Man from Michigan, began his ski career way back in 1965 at the Pando Ski Area, near Grand Rapids, Michigan when he transferred to work for the Vick Chemical Company. At the time, Pando Ski Area had a Vertical Drop of 125ft/38m, a Rope Tow, and several trails. Here, Mike developed his love for the mountains and the freedom that skiing provides. As his passion for skiing grew, he became a ski instructor and worked for about 15 years at Cannonsburg Ski Area, which features 9 lifts, 21 runs, and a vertical drop of 250ft/76m.
With most ski enthusiasts throughout North America, the official kickoff to the ski and snowboard season is attending the annual Warren Miller Movie, and with Mike, it’s no different. Mike’s breakout year for ski travel was 1982 when packed his ski equipment and decided to head west to enjoy the slopes, scenery and old west charm of Steamboat Ski Resort located near the town of Steamboat Springs. As most people within the ski industry know, Steamboat Ski Resort is home to Billy Kidd who is an Olympic medalist, Director of Skiing and a great skiing ambassador to this magnificent resort.
As Mike, the Man from Michigan shared more of his stories with me, I asked him about his best ski day, his notable personal accomplishments and his ‘Bucket List’ of ski areas that he would like to visit. He told me that one of his best ski days; there have been many, occurred in 2017 at Boyne Mountain in Michigan where conditions were perfect, and he managed to ski an incredible total of 30,000 vertical feet over five hours, 500 vertical feet at a time! That is a whopping 60 runs. Boyne Mountain has a vertical drop of 500ft and Mike jokes that if you find a run you like, you can ski it 12 times in an hour. He also shared a few personal accomplishments that stand out to him. One being his decision to try snowboarding later in life and even became a Level 1 instructor. He also mentioned his ski trip in 1997 to Summit County, Colorado where he skied 14 days in a row at resorts such as A-Basin, Breckenridge Ski Resort, Ski Cooper, Copper Mountain Resort and Keystone Resort to name a few. His ‘Bucket List’ includes Sun Valley Resort in Idaho, Big Sky Resort in Montana, Angel Fire in New Mexico and a trip to the Alps, all of which Mike hopes to visit near future.
During a recent conversation, the topic of Easter came up, when traditionally most families get together and enjoy a meal of turkey with all the trimmings. Not Mike, who chuckles when he tells me about his many Easter outings to Boyne Mountain where his dinner consisted of a cheeseburger, a bag of chips and a beer. Throughout his journey, Mike, the Man from Michigan has created many great memories and a few injuries. Mike could almost be considered the Bionic Man of the ski world as he has received a cracked pelvis while on a snowboard, tripped on a lift ticket while walking through a parking lot and broke his femur and perhaps the most serious of all, had his two hips replaced, but he still keeps going!
After some discussion and thought on Mike’s part, he finally revealed his Top 10 List of favorite ski areas in Canada and the United States. He would not disclose his #1, but provided this list in no particular order; Aspen Highlands, CO; Keystone Resort, CO; Arapahoe Basin, CO; Brighton Resort, UT; Snowbasin Ski Resort, UT; Boyne Mountain, MI; Sunshine Village Ski Resort, AB; Steamboat Ski Resort, CO; Sierra at Tahoe Resort, CA; and Heavenly Mountain Resort, CA.
Today, Mike still lives in Michigan with his wife Joyce and makes his annual journey to the slopes of Utah’s ski areas and to visit his son. His trip takes him to mountains like Powder Mountain Ski Resort, Nordic Valley Ski Resort, Snowbasin Ski Resort or the ski areas of the Cottonwood Canyons where he searches for as many free lift tickets as possible – age has its privileges.
After almost five decades on the slopes, Mike continues to be an inspiration to all of us! He doesn’t let age get in the way of doing what he loves – skiing!
Written by John K MacNeil – President, Escape2ski Inc