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Produced & Maintained by Idaho Mountain Express, Box 1013, Ketchum, ID 83340-1013 
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Copyright © 2003 Express Publishing Inc.
All Rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of Express Publishing Inc. is prohibited. 

Wednesday, March 24, 2004


‘Good morning, Senator. How are you?’

An exclusive moment
with presidential hopeful

Express Staff Writer

Typically, skate skiing is a time to clear the pate and focus on coordinated motions and breathing. Friday morning, however, I was faced with a dilemma.

Out for a morning cruise on the North Valley Trails, I schussed past the parking slot at the base of Durrance just north of the SNRA headquarters, where I had expect only a few backcountry skiers’ cars to be parked. But at 8:00 in the morning there were too many vehicles. TV vans and Suburbans with black tinted windows lined the highway.

In the fog of my warm-up I didn’t focus on what was going on until I saw a colorful snowboard I recognized as belonging to Sen. John Kerry.

One of Willy Cook’s photographs that didn’t run in the Friday edition of the Idaho Mountain Express showed the senator posed with his board. The design stuck in my head.

The dilemma was a conflict of instincts. One is to join the press turned paparazzi and try to get in on the senator’s business for the day, get the story. But, what is the story? Kerry is in town on vacation and also happens to be running for president of the United States.

My second instinct was to leave the story to the vultures, embrace my inner ski-bum and continue flying across the snow without a care in the world.

I continued past the scene deeper into the Sawtooth National Forest thinking how good the snow was and soon found I couldn't resist the urge to cross the road and try to speak with Senator Kerry.

My first instinct got the better of me. I was compelled by the fact that the senator was heading into the backcountry, the public domain. So, after I was about a 200 yards past the media circus, I took my skis off crossed the highway and shouldered my pride.

The morning snow was still frozen and supportable as I approached one of the groups heading to the Durrance ascent.

I could see Kerry at the front of the group with a gentleman I took as a Secret Service agent covering his flank. I skied up to ask him if I could speak with the senator.

"That's up to the senator if he wants to speak with you," he said, giving me free rein to sidle up to Kerry.

"Good morning, Senator. How are you?" I asked.

He was casual and friendly and we kibitzed about skiing and the mountain as we moved to the steep part of the slope.

"This is one of the good ones," he said. "I get up it once or twice a year."

He asked if I had come from the Nordic trail. I explained that I couldn’t resist trying to say hello to him after having met him while I was working as a correspondent in Washington, D.C., over a year ago.

At the time he and Sen. Paul Wellstone, D-Minn., were battling to prevent oil drilling in the Alaskan National Wildlife Refuge.

He was wistful when I mentioned the history.

"That was tough one," he said. I thought he was speaking at once about the loss of his colleague and the battle to stop drilling in the ANWR.

I explained that I now work for the Idaho Mountain Express.

"You can go back and tell them you had an exclusive interview," he joked.

Clearly, it was not the time to ask about his Iran Contra investigations as a freshman senator, his game plan for beating President Bush in the election or how he would direct the war on terror. As we approached the up track, he wished me a good ski. I said farewell and he said, "Have fun!"

I think my morning turned out to be better than it did for the senator. A friend who was touring on Durrance said he skied past Kerry and saw the group was punching through the soft snow in their snowshoes and that the conditions were poor for a backcountry tour. Senator Kerry persevered, however. As I returned from my ski 40 minutes later I saw the figures high on the mountain.

Below, a United Press International reporter was walking south on the highway until he obtained cell phone reception and sat in a snow bank linked up his lap top to send the latest dispatch.

"John Kerry’s up snow shoeing," he said.

And that’s the way it was. Hope you enjoyed your vacation Senator. I do look forward to that in depth interview. Pencil me in for some press time on your next visit. We’ll go find better snow and you can tell me your story. Thanks for the ski moment.


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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.