Her grandfather would be proud.
I’ve had that thought many times while watching MacKenzie Perkett zip around slalom poles at high school ski races.
Perkett, a Lake George High School senior, has been one of the top Alpine skiers in Section II for the past three seasons. A consistent top-10 finisher, she made the state team as a freshman, sophomore and junior. She’s also off to a strong start this season with a second, a third and a fifth already in the invitational books.
Perkett is the granddaughter of Don Metivier, who died in 2007 at the age of 70. Metivier wasn’t a ski racer, but he had more connections to the ski racing world — and more affection for the sport — than anyone I ever knew.
The Glens Falls native was widely known in the North Country as a newspaper journalist and radio broadcaster, but his reputation went far beyond that. In the beginning, he wrote about skiing in a local newspaper. That led to membership in the Eastern Ski Writers Association and the United States Ski Writers Association. A natural and dynamic leader, he eventually served as president of both organizations and became widely known and highly respected throughout the industry.
In the 1970s, Metivier became the eastern correspondent for “Ski Racing,” the leading ski competition publication in the country. In the 1980s, he became editor, and later, publisher of the magazine.
Metivier covered countless World Cup races, World Championships and Winter Olympic Games. He could toss off stories about ski greats like Ingemar Stenmark, Franz Klammer, Alberto Tomba and Billy Kidd as readily as most people talk about favorite aunts and uncles.
He liked to tell about a conversation he had with Stenmark shortly after the Hahnenkamm downhill in Kitzbuehel, Austria.
Stenmark, a slalom and giant slalom specialist, had never gone down the terrifying “Streif” course at Kitzbuehel before.
“So how was it?” Metivier asked the Swede.
Stenmark, one of the greatest Alpine skiers of all time, shook his head and said, “That was the dumbest thing I ever did in my life!”
Metivier and I became good friends over the years and traveled many times to the Austrian and Swiss alps together.
Wherever we went, he had friends — racers, ski school directors, even mayors — in ski towns like Zurs, Lech, Davos and Cortina.
If he didn’t have friends when he got there, he did when he left — like the musician we met in Mayrhofen, Austria.
Late one evening, Don and I ventured into a packed ski bar where a rock band was playing. The leader, a Hungarian trumpet player, came to our table during a break to chat with some Americans.
After complimenting him on his trumpet playing, Metivier mentioned he was a Duke Ellington fan.
“You like jazz?” the trumpeter said. “I play some for you.”
Back on the bandstand, he played an all-jazz set, much to the dismay of the rock fans in the place.
Metivier loved it.
Besides the World Cup, Metivier was a major player in the professional ski racing circuits of the 1970s and 80s.
In 1988, he founded a marketing and publishing firm which represented the pro racing tour in its heyday. Most of the competitors were former World Cup racers, and Metivier knew them all.
After his passing, the Eastern Ski Writers honored Metivier’s memory in a very special way.
In the 1960s, the organization began presenting its annual “Golden Ski Award” to the outstanding male and female ski racers from the East.
Several years ago, the prestigious award was renamed the “Don A. Metivier Golden Ski Award” in recognition of the journalist’s many years of dedication to ski racing. Last season’s female winner, 16-year-old Mikaela Shiffrin, made her first World Cup podium in December, finishing third in a slalom race in Lienz, Austria.
HOME SWEET HOME
Metivier traveled the world, but he often said Glens Falls was a great place to raise a family because his children (and those of his wife, Laraine) could work at Lake George in the summer and ski at West Mountain in the winter.
And ski they did.
All seven children became good skiers. Three of MacKenzie’s uncles — Steve, Tony and Bob Metivier — competed together on the Glens Falls High School Alpine team. Her mother, Donna Perkett, raced at Boston College.
Now MacKenzie is carrying on the Metivier skiing tradition, and she doesn’t take that lightly.
“I was young when he died, and I didn’t realize how important he was to me at the time,” she said of her grandfather. “Now I realize how important he was, not only to my family, but also to the community.
“He always cared about my skiing. I remember him always asking me how it was going. Now I always seek his guidance and protection in skiing because I know how much he loved ski racing.
“Before every ski race, I say a couple of words to him, just asking him to protect me when I’m going down the course and to help me to do the best I can.”
No grandfather could ask for more than that.