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Copyright © 2003 Express Publishing Inc.
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Wednesday, March 24, 2004


Cron invited
into ‘the bubble’

Ski patrolman skis with Kerry

Express Arts Editor

For most, the rarified environment of presidential politics is seen from the outside in. Tim Cron, a Sun Valley ski patrolman, last week got a taste of life inside what the U.S. Secret Service calls "the bubble." That "bubble" included Democratic presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry, his wife Teresa Heinz Kerry, a few top aides and, of course, unidentified men with big jackets. Cron spent several days skiing and hiking with the senator from Massachusetts who is vacationing here.

As is the case when any VIP skis or boards on Baldy, a member of the ski patrol is assigned—for safety reasons—to accompany the VIP. Cron got that duty Thursday morning.

Kerry began his snowboarding day on Upper College, with Secret Service men in front and back, and at the top and bottom of the mountain. Cron stayed behind Kerry with the trailing agent. When the party stopped at the bottom of Upper College, Kerry looked back at Cron and said, "Who are you?"

Cron introduced himself and asked if it was okay if he hung out in back and shadowed him. Kerry waved Cron over and said, "Come on, let’s go skiing." The two skied and boarded together the rest of the day, probably four or five runs, including College, Flying Squirrel and Limelight, Cron said. By Cron’s account and those of others watching, Kerry is a strong boarder. "He was rippin’ it," Cron said.

After that first run, Cron rode the lifts with Kerry, two members of the public or an aide, Marvin Nicholson, and a member of the public. He described the experience as pretty intense with people constantly coming up to talk to and congratulate Kerry. He said Kerry was very polite to everyone, but clearly was not in political mode. "He was just into boarding, having a good time. He seemed to have a real appreciation for the mountain environment," Cron added.

At the end of the day Kerry mentioned that he would like to do some hiking on Friday, maybe up Durrance Peak. Cron, who has spent a fair amount of time in that area explained, "Senator, it didn’t freeze last night, so skiing is going to be marginal at best, more like survival skiing."

"Yeah, I know, but it’s good to be out there. I’d love it if you could join us," Kerry said.

And so Cron sent the Secret Service to The Elephant’s Perch in Ketchum to get outfitted for snowshoes. The next day he met the agents at the headquarters of the Sawtooth National Recreation Area and jumped into their Suburban, which was littered with skis, snowshoes and Kevlar vests.

At the parking lot for the Durrance hike, Cron met Kerry. The two, with agents, headed up the peak. After the approximately two-hour hike—Kerry carried all of his gear and snowboard—the party reached the top. Kerry commented on how much he enjoyed the quiet. Then his cell phone rang. He answered, said he was on top of Durrance and would call back. After a long pause he repeated, "No, I don’t want to talk now. I’ll call back in an hour or two."

Cron said he was impressed with Kerry’s wherewithal in the backcountry. He strapped on his own avalanche beacon, knew how to use it, and was very self-sufficient. "He knew what he was doing," Cron said.

The ski down was challenging, as the snow was a little too soft to hold them up. Kerry, being relatively light and on a snowboard, did pretty well. The bigger Secret Service agent—Cron said he was approximately 220 pounds plus whatever firearms he had—was having a tough time getting down.

But they made it. Cron got back into the Suburban and was dropped at his car.

Saturday morning Cron was back on duty. It was another beautiful Sun Valley day and Kerry had decided to spend it on Baldy. He was on skis this time, and more than once, left some videographers and various press people in the proverbial dust. Kerry skied all over the mountain and took time out for a visit to the ski patrol shack during lunchtime. The senator spent Sunday on Baldy as well

Cron was happy enough with the duty. He said Kerry was very "likeable guy and a great ski partner."

By Sunday afternoon the Secret Servicemen looked a little ragged. It seemed running alongside a limousine in downtown Washington is a bit different duty from hustling up and down the mountains in Sun Valley.


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The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.