Johnson wins national writing award for Gazette ‘Ski Lines’ column

The Daily Gazette's Phil Johnson won a national award for his ski column. (Photo courtesy Julia Johnson/Gore Mountain)

The Daily Gazette's Phil Johnson won a national award for his ski column. (Photo courtesy Julia Johnson/Gore Mountain)

In a column headlined “Outdoor winter fun at Dynamite Hill,” a little free-of-charge ski mountain a few miles west of Lake George, Phil Johnson described Town of Chester supervisor Craig Leggett as “especially attuned to what Dynamite Hill provides to his community.”

It was one of three 2020-21 “Ski Lines” columns, which Johnson has written for the Daily Gazette for almost 12 years, submitted for consideration by the North American Snowsports Journalists Association (NASJA) for its annual Harold S. Hirsch Award recognizing excellence in “snowsports achievement and communications.”

On May 26, NASJA announced that Johnson had won the category for recurring columns/features, which Johnson said was especially gratifying since, like Leggett, he tries, more than anything else, to appeal to his local readership with “Ski Lines.”

Johnson has earned a few honorable mentions for this award, and this is his first time winning it.

“I felt pretty good about it,” he said on Tuesday. “The membership is from all throughout the U.S. and Canada. There are a lot of very talented writers and broadcasters in the group who I’ve followed and enjoyed over the years, so I’m happy to be recognized.

“I think the recognition probably is at least shared by the Gazette. My column typically focuses on what I consider to be local people and topics of interest. I don’t do a lot of travel stuff or national column focuses. Occasionally I will, but not often. And the Gazette has been terrific about supporting the column and featuring it. I couldn’t be happier with the feature treatment I get.”

Besides “Outdoor winter fun at Dynamite Hill,” in which Johnson underlined the stark contrast between a ski resort like Beaver Creek in Colorado, with its $219 day passes, and Dynamite Hill, Johnson’s other “Ski Lines” submissions were “Freddie nearing 100th birthday” and “Rogge resurrects Mountain Gazette.”

The “Freddie” column is an homage to Frederica Woodall Anderson, a ski instructor in Schenectady County since the 1940s, that Johnson wrote on Feb. 16, 2021, a few days before the still-active Anderson turned 100.

“Rogge” spotlights an effort by 2004 Queensbury High graduate Mike Rogge to revive an iconic outdoor journal first published in 1966.

Phil is the ultimate skier’s ski columnist,” Gazette editor Miles Reed said. “When he writes about newly cut trails or grooming or other vital parts of the industry, he does it with authority. And he’s not researching and writing his columns from the comfort of his home study. Once the snow flies or the snow guns are turned on in late November or early December, you’ll find Phil on the mountain. And he’s often still skiing well into April.”

Johnson joined Dan Egan, a world-renowned skier and pioneer of extreme sports who is a U.S. Skiing & Snowboarding Hall of Famer, as Hirsch writing winners in 2022. Egan won in the standalone story category for his piece on legendary ski filmmaker Warren Miller that appeared in “Mountain Outlaw” magazine.

“To be honored for the recurring things at the same time Dan Egan is getting the standalone award is pretty neat; Dan is known world-wide, and I think I might be known by some in Schenectady County,” Johnson said with a chuckle.

“The thing that pleases me the most about it is I do try to focus on things that I think would be of interest to people in our area. Most of the things that I write during the year, I choose the topic based on that criterion.”

Categories: Sports

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