Berkshire native and two-time Olympian returns to Bousquet roots
Editor’s note: Michael Walsh recently connected with two-time Olympian and Berkshire native Krista Schmidinger over email. Bousquet recently announced a partnership with Schmidinger, an Alpine skier who competed in the Winter Olympics in 1992 and 1994. As part of the partnership, she will contribute to Bousquet’s Race Club and SnowSports School, assisting with race and school program design, instruction input, and one-on-one opportunities for young skiers.
Q: How did you first hear about the sale of Bousquet and go about connecting with the folks at Mill Town Capital, which recently purchased Bousquet?
A: Bousquet has always been in my purview because as a kid from a working-class Berkshire family, it was the ultimate playground for my twin sister and me growing up. So when my friend and former Bousquet Race Club member Nicole Douillet texted me that Bousquet had been sold, I searched their website to read the news.
The website said they intended to keep it local while investing in the infrastructure. These values resonated with me. I have always felt a deep connection to Bousquet; it’s a cool little ski area, with diverse terrain, and a down-to-earth community of local outdoor enthusiasts. And so I was excited to click the contact button and send a congratulatory email.
I also added that I’m a Berkshire native and two-time Olympian, whose roots stemmed from Bousquet’s programs, and let them know that if there’s any way I can help or be part of writing the next chapter, I would be grateful for the opportunity. Within a few days, I heard back from Mill Town, and a few weeks later, I was walking the slopes with Dave Mixer and Tim Burke.
Q: Do you remember your last time at Bousquet or skiing in the Berkshires? How about a favorite memory from Bousquet?
A: The last time I skied at Bousquet, I think, was a few years ago, with my father while he was coaching the Race Club kids. I foreran the race, and was bowled over by the big welcome I received. And I remember thinking to myself, “Wow, the commitment parents make supporting their kids’ endeavors is huge.”
I don’t have a singular favorite memory of Bousquet, rather it’s an enveloping feeling and scene in my head of escaping into a world with my twin sister of fun and freedom, and snow and glitter, and French fries and hot chocolate with whip cream. Now, when I come back with my family, I share those same warm feelings with my partner and daughter. The Berkshires, and Bousquet, is home.
Q: What are some of your goals with this collaboration?
A: My goals are the same as Mill Town’s, which is to make a positive impact on writing the next chapter of Bousquet’s history, to build it into a modern, year-round recreational center. My role on the mountain is to connect and build relationships with the guests and the community. Bousquet has ambitious plans to challenge the traditional ski lodge; I look forward to being a part of and influencing that piece of the project.
Q: How much are you aware of the changes and improvements being made? Have you offered any advice?
A: I began with Mill Town on the Bousquet project in July 2020. With my lifetime breadth of ski experience and the depth of my ski industry network, I’m able to be an all-around player, which has been really fun. I’ve been able to give my input across the board. I’m working with Cindy Bartlett, the snowsports director, on the snowsports side supporting the current programs and brainstorming new ideas.
I’m looking forward to working with and inspiring the Race Club kids on and off the hill. I’m also involved in the physical space planning of the mountain. I’ve literally visited hundreds of ski resorts around the world, and much of my off-the-snow career has been in the design world, from ski wear to architecture/interior design.
Q: Having skied at the biggest mountains and resorts in the world, what do you like best about a small, local hill like Bousquet?
A: Bousquet and the small ski areas in Berkshire County are the reason I’ve had the opportunity to ski the chutes in the Andes mountains, race in the Olympics in Meribel, France, and ski while monkeys are swinging from the tree branches on the slopes in Japan. I appreciate the sense of community at Bousquet, and it is a place to learn strong ski fundamentals. If you can ski New England’s icy slopes, you can ski anywhere!
These values have given me the opportunity and confidence to ski anywhere. But when it comes right down to it, a few sweet turns and a stimulating conversation on a chairlift ride with a fellow ski enthusiast at Bousquet provide the same stimulation as any big resort.
Q: Are you stuck in Switzerland with the pandemic, or do you intend to be back in the Berkshires at some point?
A: I am not stuck in Switzerland, but if there ever was a place to be stuck, Switzerland would be it! My parents’ heritage is rooted in Europe and Scandinavia. I hold both Swiss and American citizenship, therefore I can enter both countries at any time.
One of my lifelong goals has been to live in Europe and introduce my daughter to her heritage and broaden her perspective. My family and I had plans to move to Switzerland before the project with Bousquet evolved, but I am not only committed to making an impact behind the scenes at Bousquet, but I also plan on letting my skis do some talking on the hill. I intend to be schussing around the slopes and connecting with the community sometime in January.
Mike Walsh is a sports writer with The Berkshire Eagle, where he authors the bi-weekly Powder Report column. He’s a bordering-on-30 snowboarder with a degree from Marist College and a natural curiosity for the finer things in life.