What’s a “Ferk” & how do I become one?

Ken commented about the renaming of "Iceberg" to "Middle Ferk’s".  He thought it might have been Marketing having trouble selling a ski run called “Iceberg”.  That makes sense, but there’s an even better story.  I figured others might be interested too, so let me take this opportunity to tell the story again.

 

Here’s an exerpt from a letter written to the National Ski Patrol last year, compiled by a number of volunteer patrollers. 

 

It is my distinct privilege to nominate a truly distinguished patroller for the prestigious recognition as  National Outstanding Alpine Patroller. Steve Ferkovich has been a patroller for the National Ski Patrol System for over fifty (50) years. As you will see from his record, he is the Patroller whom the Crystal Mountain Ski Patrol admires and emulates. His ongoing selfless giving to the skiing public as well as to the National Ski Patrol exemplifies the never ending service he has been providing with a professional attitude, constant enthusiasm and love for skiing, patrolling and people.

Steve began patrolling in 1957 at the age of 15, when his student’s season pass was 50 cents at Ski Cooper ski area outside Leadville Colorado.  In 1967, he moved to Washington and joined the Crystal Mountain Ski Patrol and has continued to patrol here for the past 42 years. In 2000, when he was 58 years old, he retired from his career after 5 years at Boeing and 30 years as a bridge design engineer with the City of Seattle. However, he continued to serve the skiing public not only as a volunteer patroller but as a paid patroller as well. He now patrols 4 to 5 days a week, splitting his time between being a volunteer and a pro patroller. He averages over 100 days patrolling per year. He continues to redefine the image and substance of a consummate patroller. His effortless skiing and toboggan running in any snow condition or any terrain on any mountain would make a patroller half his age wishing they too could be as efficient and tireless. He has faithfully, dutifully, reliably, professionally, and honorably represented and fulfilled all that the white cross of the National Ski Patrol is imagined to be.

Throughout his patrol career, he has treated most every injury imaginable in a wide range of snow conditions and terrain. It is simply impossible to list all the types of injuries he has treated from the approximately 1,500 toboggans with injured skiers he has safely brought to the First Aid Room. He has also counseled countless children and adults about snow safety. Just as he has counseled the skiing public about safety, he has provided similar service to the numerous young patrollers, with training, mentoring and professional expertise only had by someone of his caliber. He has also served in many Patrol Leadership functions including his current position of Patrol Leader.

On repeated occasions throughout his patrol career, Steve has been recognized by his fellow patrollers and received many local patrol awards, including:

  • Outstanding Alpine Patroller
  • The very coveted CMSPHWB (Crystal Mountain Ski Patrol Hard Working Bastard) Gold Award, which he received on two different occasions
  • Most Inspirational Patroller awards (both Pro and Volunteer) which no other patroller has won more times (three) in our 46 year history.
  • Three “Director Trophy” awards for serving the most days in a season,
  • An award for bringing down the most toboggans with injured patients in a year,

as well as many others in addition to many NSP awards.

In addition to his patrol duties and accomplishments, Steve has been very active in contributing to the sport of skiing outside of the NSP. He has organized the Jimmy Heuga Express Racing Team for 14 years, 1990 – 2004, and has raised well over $10,000 to support multiple sclerosis research.

 

In 2006, while riding on a chairlift, Crystal Mountain’s General Manager John Kircher and his wife Kim asked Steve what was his favorite top-to-bottom run at Crystal.  Little did he know that they were planning to rename his favorite run to honor him and his 50 years of patrolling.  And so, Iceberg Ridge, Iceberg Gulch, and Lower Bull Run became Upper Ferk’s, Middle Ferk’s, and Lower Ferk’s. 

 

If you’re not aquainted with Steve, below is a picture of him on the phone at the top of High Campbell, probably organizing end-of-day sweep or a quick opening of South Backcountry gates as Patrol Leader on his volunteer weekend.

 

In the end, Steve was runner-up to the National Outstanding Alpine Patroller of the Year.  That award usually goes to someone who has given a great deal of themself to the skiing public and the functions of the National Ski Patrol.  It’s usually someone who has attended a lot of meetings, participated in a lot of conference calls, visited a lot of neighboring ski areas and submitted a lot of travel expense vouchers.

Though Steve has certainly done all those things that inspire us with his off-the-hill contributions, those of us who work with him each day and each weekend find the greatest inspiration in the passion he brings to what  we all sharea sheer love of the mountains and the sport of skiing. 

So we prefer to think his contributions may have eclipsed those of the person who ultimately won that award, had Steve not been just so darn busy skiing!   And as we struggle to keep up with him, we imagine Ferk the way we see him each day–just like in the photo below–blowing through the powder at the end an avalanche control route last year:

 

 

That’s why it’s called Ferk’s!

 

5 thoughts on “What’s a “Ferk” & how do I become one?

  1. Corey, was mostly joking on the Iceberg marketing aspect. Nice to see the full story about Ferk. Only thing I heard when the rename happened was that he was a 50 year patroller. The picture cleared things up, have seen Ferk many times and didn’t know who he was. Great job.

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  2. Joedabaker

    Steve is a class act and a tremendous representation for Crystal Mountain Ski Patrol and the values of the mountain. A great living example of a person who loves to contribute, ski and enjoy the mountains. Plus he’s a heck of a nice guy, who always says hi when our paths cross. He was shocked and still humbled when they renamed Iceberg “Ferks”. Cheers to Ferk and his contributions!

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  3. Big B

    Right on Corey, Ferk is the man and has been a Beacon of what to do and how to do it as far as the patrol is concerned. Always boots on and out the door ready, Ferk has set the standard for us all at Crystal. On a Powder Day, while doing ropes checks you will find Ferk “side slipping” the rope Line and hand lifting every piece of boo. At the end of the day, you might see Ferk checking to see if the garbage can needs to be emptied before heading down the hill. It’s call doing the right thing for the right reasons and doing it without being told to do so.” I am proud to say, I have skied with ferk and yes, you ski in his tracks.

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  4. MikeT

    Thanks for posting this wonderful bio of Ferk and explanation of the rename.
    And I like Ferk’s better than Iceberg (never cared for that name very much), so it is a two-fer!

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  5. Maggie

    Thank you for the detailed explanation of why you changed the aptly named Iceberg Gulch. Also one of my favorite runs. But after over 40 years skiing at Crystal, I take the change hard and will probably always refer to it as Iceberg. Of course, if I were to ever meet Mr. Ferkovich, the chances are high that it would be love at first sight! He is definitely someone to look up to.

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