From what I remember being told, I skied for the first time at age two. Then sporadically a few times a year until my mom bought a farm near Owl’s Head in the late seventies (1976 to be exact). There are a lot of things I’m thankful for in life… One of them is how my mom coerced and conned me as a young teenager to get back into skiing after I’d fallen out of love with the sport. So much so that I started ski racing. (a passion that’s stayed with me to this day). Skiing changed my life.

JF Ravenelle making turns at Owl's Head as he looks on to Lake Memphremagog | Photo Credit: William Kelly

Skiing has been the singular constant throughout my entire life. It’s given me a family, it’s helped me get through some pretty difficult times and not only provided me with incredible experiences, it’s also given me a career that I love, introduced me to friends that I adore as well as provided me with an appreciation for mountains and all their wonders.

When I was a kid, my grandpa Ernest would offer to buy me (as a birthday and Christmas gift) one piece of ski equipment a year, one year I’d get boots, the other I’d get skis (needless to say I never asked him to buy me bindings). I would hang out at the Trading Post, Ski Chalet and Boutique Jet on Queen Mary as well as Trottier in St-Sauveur… later on I was a shop rat at Paula Richardson’s Boutique at Owl’s Head… All the while dreaming of one day owning my own shop…

JF Ravenelle at Jay Peak, VT | Photo Credit: Zoe Bourdages-Taylor

My ski bucket list was a long and growing one and I’m fortunate to say that I’ve managed to check hundreds of boxes off of it: I’ve owned not one but four ski shops, I’ve owned one in Banff and I helped build-up one hell of a nice one at Mont Sutton (that I hope won’t regress). I’ve written for a few ski magazines in my life and I’ve even been on the cover of one. I’ve even managed to be editor of a ski magazine for a short period of time (I’m not quite done with that particular bug just yet as we’re currently working on Ski & Bike Magazine)… On the 22nd of October 2016 I skied on the night of my 50th birthday and managed to ski in June of that very same season (my longest ski season ever).

JF Ravenlle taking face shots at Sutton, QC | Photo Credit Bernard Brault

I’ve Cat-skied, Heli-skied… I’ve skied from New-Mexico to Alaska and everywhere in between (151 resorts to be exact) I’ve skied Sweden (thanks to Patrick Menard) and one day I’ll ski Italy, France, Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Japan and Chile (those boxes remain unchecked)… Moment Skis even let me build my own ski once (it’s sitting in my office) and recently I even got the chance to do the graphics on a ski for the Mont Sutton rental fleet.

I’ve been a ski patroller, a ski coach, a ski instructor, a liftie, a snowmaker and Fred Korman’s bitch. I’ve climbed lift towers to do lift evacs and I’ve been explained how to cut trails by the master himself: Bob Richardson. I’ve been called by him a freeloader, a shithead, a hammerhead as well as many other things and I’m proud to say that he sometimes even liked me. In the 90’s I even started a ski-event management company that ran demo-days and organized season-long on-hill events for CHOM, CIQC and a few charities as well. There aren’t many things I haven’t done in this business.

JF Ravenelle coming in for landing at Sutton, QC | Photo Credit: Bernard Brault

I once shared a hot tub with Warren Miller and once peed next to Hermann Maier and Lasse Kjus on the same day. I’ve met Tomba, Plake, Shiffrin, Bode, Scott Schmidt, the Mahre brothers, Nancy Greene, Steve Podborski, Ken Read, and I’ve even drank schnapps with Klaus freaking Obermeyer!

I’ve lived a ski bum’s dream life. I’ve skied several 150 day seasons and in 2013 I managed to ski every single day that Owl’s Head was open (and a few it was not) 131 consecutive days to be exact. The previous season, my last in Manitoba I had only skied one day (the least I’d ever skied). This industry is my life and the people who work in it are my family. I love this business.

JF Ravenelle at Sutton, QC | Photo Credit: Bernard Brault

To say that skiing is my life would be a solid understatement. To say that I’m done would be wildly inaccurate. On Friday, October 26th 2018 at Killington I clicked into a ski binding for the fiftieth year in a row as I began my 50th ski season on snow. I was so very lucky that my ski buddy and photographer Bernard was there to unwittingly record it. To say that It meant everything to me that Zoe, Alain and Amélie were there to ski with me on that gorgeous autumn day. Skiing to some is an activity, to some it’s a sport… To some it’s a passion but for me it’s the lifeblood, the backdrop and soundtrack of my life.

I’ve been a very lucky boy.

Selfie of JF at Sunshine Village