Lou Batori skis perfectly together. (Mike Terrell)
“He’s the Energizer Bunny of skiing.”
That was my first thought when Crystal Mountain Resort spokesman Brian Lawson contacted me recently to say that Lou Batori, legendary centenarian skier, had taken a few runs during the warm spell in late February.
At 106-years-old he sets records every time he takes a run. Batori is considered the oldest living skier in the world. The Hungarian Skier recently called him “Yoda of the skis” in salute to their native son’s latest accomplishment.
Batori first learned to ski in Hungary at the age of 10 on handmade wooden hickory skis equipped with leather straps for bindings. He continued to ski in New York and New England when his family immigrated to the United States a few years later and in Michigan when he moved here after he retired in 1973.
I had the pleasure of taking a few runs with Lou a couple of years ago on an April morning at Crystal. Skiing with a Centurion was almost a mystical experience. Standing on top of the ski hill recalling ski history he said, “I rode the first chairlift in the east at Stowe Mountain in 1940, the year it was constructed. That was a while ago.” I knew I was in for a treat. That was three years before I was born. Needless to say it was a treat I’ll never forget.
Dressed in a white jumpsuit with a 100+ patch stitched on the arm and a sleek Giro silver helmet you would never have guessed his age. He headed gracefully, skis together, down a corduroy carpet of snow making perfect turns.
“A run, a weekend of skiing justifies my existence,” he said with a grin as we paused for the mid-morning break in the cafeteria. “It’s funny, but when a person asks me why I ski, I immediately know they are not a skier. A skier wouldn’t have to ask that question.”
He credits grooming and the new gear with extending his skiing years.
“Today’s grooming leaves the slopes in immaculate condition. I don’t have to worry about changing slope conditions, and the new equipment is much lighter, more efficient and easier to use. Boots have improved immensely, and to me, they are the most important part or your equipment. If your feet aren’t happy you won’t enjoy skiing,” Batori chuckled.
He was featured in a 2011 CBS Sunday Morning segment when he turned 100 and still skied.
Despite not liking the word “inspiration,” Batori is an inspiration to all of us to get out enjoy life and make as many turns as possible down life’s endless slopes.