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Life in the snow lane

Extreme skiing pioneer Dan Egan's new book full of skiing stories

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by Joshua Spaulding
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Sports Editor - Salmon Press Newspapers

Ski legend Dan Egan signs a copy of his new book for Carol Dunn (right) as Michelle Piro awaits her turn. Dunn's father, Bob, is a ski legend in his own right, as he was the second guy in the world to make snow (at Boston Hills) mand was also a key cog in the history of Ragged Mountain in Danbury. (Photo by Joshua Spaulding) (click for larger version)
July 14, 2021
BRISTOL — Sprinkled throughout the local communities are people who have lived pretty extraordinary lives.

They have stories to tell, stories that when collected would make an interesting book.

One local individual with stories to tell has done just that, collecting those interesting stories into a new book that is available at retailers around the area.

In 1990, extreme skiing legend Dan Egan was lost on Mount Elbrus in Russia for 38 hours in a massive storm and the story of those harrowing hours serves as the base of his new book, "30 Years in a White Haze," which he wrote with Eric Wilbur, a longtime Boston Globe writer.

I always wanted to write a book, but not end it with that story," Egan said last Tuesday at a book signing event at Basic Ingredients Bakery in Bristol. "That was the beginning of my adult life, not the end.

"Everything today is a result of that trip, in one way or another," he continued. "And we weaved that story in throughout the book."

In that life-changing event, Egan's life was saved by a Russian and the next day, he and that Russian rescued 14 other people who had been lost in the same storm, just one of the many stories that dot Egan's life of extreme skiing around the world.

Egan notes that Wilbur approached him around the time he and his brother were inducted into the US Ski and Snowboarding Hall of Fame a few years back and said he should write a book. The local ski legend at the time said that he had one in mind and a year later, he was on the phone with Wilbur ready to put something together.

While Egan made his name skiing all over the world, the book spends a lot of time right in New Hampshire, where Egan has called home since 1993.

He originally moved to New Hampshire to run Ski 93, which he did for five year and then moved on to Tenney Mountain, where he served as general manager for four years, skiing at Waterville Valley as a college racer and spent many family ski trips at Cranmore Mountain in North Conway. And he continues his connections to the area he now calls home by coaching freestyle skiing at Proctor Academy in Andover.

"We also track the history of extreme skiing," Egan says of the new book, noting that about a decade ago, it was thought that it came out of the European alpiners, but for Egan, the free doggers of the 1980s were the ones who brought it to life. He notes Waterville Valley was considered the birthplace of freestyle skiing and remains a hotbed for training for some of the best freestyle skiers in the world.

"We packaged it and we sold it," he said. "The VCR, that was the birth of extreme skiing.

"Extreme sports are not as much a sport as entertainment," he continued. "Those tapes last for years, that's why people remember us."

Egan went on to become the VHS representative east of the Mississippi for extreme skiing pioneer Warren Miller and in the process was able to open his own video distribution business.

"A lot of people have described (the book) as sitting in the base lodge and hearing the stories apres ski," Egan said. "It's about perseverance of falling down and getting back up, in business and in life.

"It's told in the third person, so it gives the other characters space for their opinion," he continued. "It opens the book up and you have a lot of different perspectives."

Egan notes that the White Mountains Region is one of the best places to live when it comes to skiing because so many people care about the industry and there are so many people who have been incredibly successful in the industry.

"Around here, we care so much about the ski industry," he said. "We ski a lot of days and we ski in a lot of weather.

"There's so many world class athletes here, but it's not a big deal, that's one of the reasons this is a great place to live is because here, you can just be," Egan continued. "There's a passion around here for the mountains."

Going back to that mountain in Russia in 1990, Egan notes that it was pretty meaningful for many reasons, one that goes all the way back to his childhood.

On the wall in his grandmother's home there was a family tree and on that tree were three different Dans. His uncle Dan had died in Korea, his cousin Dan died in a car crash and between that, he had a baby brother named Dan who had died.

"When looking at that wall, I would see the three dead Dans," he said. "They all died under the age of 24.

"I was 24 in 1990," he said.

It's safe to say that Dan Egan has lived an incredible life, one that has left him with plenty of stories to tell.

"30 Days in a White Haze" is available at Chase Street Market in Plymouth, The Book Monger in Waterville Valley, Ski Fanatics in Campton and Plymouth Ski and Sport in Plymouth and many other retailers or you can visit www.white-haze.com/ to order a copy.

Egan will be holding book signing events on July 17 from 3 to 5 p.m. at Lahout's Summit Shop in Littleton and on July 22 from 5 to 7 p.m. at Bookery Manchester

Sports Editor Joshua Spaulding can be reached at 279-4516, ext. 155 or josh@salmonpress.news.

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