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Ski clubbers find friendship on the slopes

Jan 31, 2013 06:04AM ● Published by Community News Service

By Ryan S. Murphy

Jackie Lemesevski hadn’t always spent her winters on the slopes.

“I started skiing when I was 40!” Lemesevski said. “I was horrible. Of course, some say I still am. But my husband and my daughter, who was 16 at time, loved it so much. I realized I better catch on or risk being left at home.”

The sport has had such an impact on the Bordentown resident that she now sees an entirely new perspective on this time of the year, so much so that in 2008, she founded the Bordentown Ski Club.

“The absolute best part for me is that I now look forward to winter and the cold weather, where I once dreaded it,” she said. “It’s really changed my life.”

The ski club is open to skiers of all abilities. Since it wasn’t very long ago that she herself was a novice at the sport, Lemesevski always remembers to accommodate both beginners and more experienced skiers.

“Our club has members of all abilities, some of whom don’t even ski or board but just love Vermont,” she said. “There really is something for everyone.”

From beginner packages through the Ski Council to trips to destinations around the world for experts, the club has an options for all. While the sport often comes with a high price tag, the Bordentown Ski Club helps to minimize that burden by offering inexpensive memberships and lodging.

Lemesevski emphasized that it’s never too late to take up skiing, pointing out that even she had a fairly late start, but the most important aspect of the club is the friendship and memories from each trip.

“I have met some incredible people being in the club,” she said. “We love hanging out at the lodge after skiing and talking about our day. We swap stories of both our legendary trips and our horrible days on the mountain.”

One individual who has heard many such stories is Mark Hritzik, president of the Mid-Jersey Ski Club, which in 2010 merged with the Bordentown Ski Club. Hritzik said he’s been around long enough to see some amazing individuals pass through.

He recalled Emily Mortara, a woman with a passion for the sport who continued skiing through her 80s.

“One time, she was skiing with a group of mainly 25- to 30-year-old people, and they got completely lost,” Hritzik said. “So they had to camp out in the woods for a while, and she helped them through it.”

Some of the best stories come from a popular spot called Tuckerman Ravine in New Hampshire. In the spring, Hritzik said, some of the more daring young adventurers would ski around the area in nothing but swimsuits.

But Hritzik insisted there are plenty of normal everyday opportunities for club members to bond as well.

“When you’re in a car together for five hours, you can’t help but eventually form friendships with others,” he said. “Even the simple act of taking a ride on a ski lift can really start some interesting conversations. You’d be surprised how much people open up sometimes. I can say for myself that I’ve met some of my best friends through this club.”

Lemesevski believes strongly in the benefits of joining a ski club and wants others to realize those benefits as well.

“When people think of a club they think of a bunch of strangers you have to hang out with and ski or board with. The truth is that clubs provide opportunities to ski or ride for less so you can do it more often,” Lemesevski said. “Our club is a member of the New Jersey Ski Council as well, meaning we have even more buying power as a group. For families who like to ski Vermont, we have an awesome lodge, with an extensive game room and a sledding hill behind the house, so kids never get bored.”

One individual who has realized the benefits of joining the Bordentown Ski Club is Richard Ciuba, a husband and father of 2 who has high praise for the club.

“I have been a member of the Bordentown Ski club for 3 years and this year signed up my wife and 9-year-old son Alex,” Ciuba said. “Skiing isn’t a cheap sport, especially for a family, so we like to save a buck wherever we can and take advantage of ticket deals that are only available to club members.”

Ciuba elaborated on the club’s exclusive deals, including a $15 per person ski trip to the Poconos on a holiday weekend. But it’s not just the promotions that keep Ciuba a member of the club.

“My family and I even used their Vermont lodge this past holiday season and we loved it,” he said. “I never expected to even to use it because my sister has a home in Vermont and we typically stay there, but she didn’t have any room one night, so we bunked at the lodge. We were pleasantly surprised. Everyone was very nice and made us feel right at home.”

Since the clubs’ merge in 2010, membership hiked up to an impressive 90 members. Lemesevski attributes this to the expanded number of options afforded by the merger, noting most members ski at a number of locations both independently and with the club. The Bordentown Ski Club was attractive because of its central locations to resorts like Okemo, Killington and Pico.

This years’ trips included Sunday River in Maine, Quebec City and Lake Tahoe, to name a few.

Basic membership is $10 for adults and free for kids. Full membership is $80 and includes additional deals. For more information, go online to bordentownskiclub.com. Email: bordentownskiclub@gmail.com.

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