Frisco and Copper Mountain Resort are the subject of a new coming-of-age and adventure book, “Ski Bum”

Colin Clancy, a Michigan native who now lives in Utah, wrote his first book about life in Summit County. Called “Ski Bum”, it comes out on December 1st.
Colin Clancy/Courtesy Photo

Colin Clancy lived vicariously through stories when he was young, and he hopes to share a similar sense of adventure with his first novel.

The Utah-based writer will publish “Ski Bum” in December, and the setting is inspired by his time spent in Summit County – specifically Frisco and Copper Mountain Resort.

Growing up in southwestern Michigan near Kalamazoo, Clancy’s love of reading introduced not only his passion for writing, but also his interest in mountaineering and other exciting subjects. he can’t find near his home. In the meantime, friends got him hooked on the sport of skiing.

“It was the first real taste of freedom,” Clancy said.

He started skiing at his school’s ski club, going out once a week on the icy hills of Michigan at night. Clancy said it cost $8 for a lift ticket and they would ski lap after lap to the last chair. His friend’s family also owned a cabin in Crystal Mountain, northern Michigan, where he spent the weekends.

“I’ve always been looking for that feeling,” Clancy said. “There’s something about a perfect ski turn where you go fast and carve a perfect carve. I don’t think there’s another feeling in the world quite like it.

His first visit to Breckenridge was his freshman year of high school spring break around 2001. Since that trip, Clancy said he has never looked back. He knew he wanted to be out west. He joined his varsity club running team in his freshman and sophomore year at Western Michigan University. The club traveled for races, mostly throughout Michigan and Canada.

However, partly because of this trip to Breckenridge, he took a friend’s suggestion and took a semester off to be a “ski bum”. He landed at Copper Mountain Resort in December 2004. The formative experience brought him back for the 2005-06 season before completing his education.

“We fell in love with Copper, and in my first season there I made so many great friends that I decided to go back,” Clancy said.

The first season Clancy was a lift attendant and line cook, and in his second season he was a children’s ski instructor and hosted banquets.

It was in Copper that the seeds for writing “Ski Bum” were planted. Clancy kept a diary at the elevator shack atop Storm King, writing observations about winter sports and his colleagues, who he said had big personalities.

The book’s protagonist, Jimmy, has a roommate named Bill who is based on his friend Adam from Wisconsin. The couple hung out and discussed life plans and more in the cabin. Adam was 26 and Clancy was 20 at the time, and he said he felt like Adam was already living a life full of adventure. He learned a lot from him in a very memorable place.

“I remember sitting up there when the wind felt like it was going to blow the cabin right up on top of the mountain,” Clancy said. “I remember being there one day when there was a blizzard, but it started thundering and the sky took on this yellow color, just dumping snow, and it was so unearthly.”

Clancy said he changed Copper’s name to Silver Mountain to give him more freedom, reduced around twenty characters to a composite handful, and changed the timeline to make a better story. However, he said anyone who knows Summit County or has skied there would recognize it as copper. It still uses the Frisco name as well as the same trail and chairlift names in Copper.

Clancy primarily writes non-fiction. He wrote for the school newspaper in middle school and high school, which led to a career writing essays, interviews, and more for outlets like The Ski Journal, The Flyfish Journal, Condé Nast Traveler and Powder Magazine. His day job is marketing for hunting and other outdoor brands.

Still, a fictional novel was always on his mind and he is thrilled with its release.

“It’s definitely a cliché, but I think it’s true that in many ways fiction can somehow tell a greater truth than non-fiction,” Clancy said. “…What I really want people, especially skiers, to recognize and experience is the feeling of skiing – the sensory details, the passion and love for the sport and the overall drive to get out there. mountain every day.”

Around 2008, while studying English for graduate school at Northern Michigan University, Clancy decided to start working on the novel. He periodically took out the draft to polish it and put it back again and again in the drawer. Then in 2020 he focused on it more seriously and started hunting for publishers in 2021. Now the book comes out in time for the ski season.

“Ski Bum” naturally focuses on capturing the joy of skiing in words, but Clancy also set out to write a coming-of-age story. With Jimmy and Adam, Clancy aims to show that young people can escape a rigid path of expected societal norms. Clancy said the people he met at Copper, who he is still friends with today, were willing to break from that path and live meaningful lives.

“When I lived and worked at a ski resort in Copper, I would have loved to have access to a book like this,” Clancy said. “I hope it rings really true for people living this life, and I hope they appreciate it for its authenticity. I hope they can read it like they’re watching a ski movie.

Writer Colin Clancy is seen at Copper Mountain Resort in 2006. Clancy used his experiences living and working at Colin Mountain in Copper Mountain for his fictional novel “Ski Bum”.
Colin Clancy/Courtesy Photo

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