How do you describe the experiences of a 50-year veteran of local ski patrols? In as few words as possible, in the opinion of Fritz Worosz of Dunkirk.
When asked about some memorable experiences, he responded, "Let's just say it's busy on the hill."
He would rather be out on the slopes helping people than talking about it. He prefers to inspire through his actions rather than his words. So, at the age of 81, he takes the hour long trip to Peek 'n Peak Ski Resort in Clymer twice a week. His shifts are Wednesdays from 9 a.m to 2 p.m. and Saturdays from 3-10:30 p.m. He carpools with Karen Gollnitz.
He said that the number of patrollers varies, commenting, "There are 12-13 on a Saturday night."
There is usually a patroller at the base. They all maintain contact via radio.
He began skiing around the age of 30. At that time, he was employed as a photo engraver at Great Lakes Color Printing in Dunkirk.
He said, "My wife (now deceased) talked me into it. We started at Holiday Valley on a rope tow."
Shortly after that, a co-worker invited him to join the ski patrol at Cockaigne. After a first aid course in Sinclairville, he began his duties. These eventually included serving as patrol leader and representative, working as a first aid training officer, and training patrol candidates in skiing and tobogganing skills. At the 30-year point of his volunteer career, he received a distinguished service award in recognition of his service to the Cockaigne Ski Patrol and the National Ski Patrol. He was a key member of the team recognized nationally as the 2002-2003 Outstanding Alpine Patrol in the category for 40 or fewer members. This group was featured on the cover of the National Ski Patrol Magazine Winter 2004 edition.
He worked at Cockaigne through the season of the lodge fire in 2011. The following year, he began patrolling at Peek 'n Peak. He said that he still misses Cockaigne.
He said, "It was only a 20 minute drive," and then added, "We're well-treated at the Peak."
He takes a "been there, done that" attitude towards recognition.
"Where are you going to put this (article)?" he asked. "Retrospective?"
He prefers to be called Fritz, stating, "My father was Mr. Worosz."
Fritz responded that the farthest ski trip he ever took was an excursion with his wife MaryAnn to ski the mountain at Stowe, Vermont. He spoke with pride of the other skiers in his family - his son Gary, and granddaughter Michaela.
He confirmed the story of the little girl from Avon, Ohio he helped years ago. After she injured her knee on one of the small trails at Cockaigne, he brought her down the hill on a snowmobile. She wrote him a thank you letter and asked if they could be pen pals. He said they had maintained contact through her high school years.
He offered this advice about the sport he loves. "Don't let a friend teach your family member to ski. People need to take lessons from professional instructors."
There was a Facebook post mentioning that Fritz had finally agreed to an article in the OBSERVER, and (reluctantly) a picture.
At last count, the post had 10 comments and 60 "likes." On behalf of the 70 Facebook users, your family, friends, co-workers, readers and the skiers you've helped - thanks, Fritz, for sharing your skills, sense of humor, your energy and your heart.
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