Glen Plake gets spring skiers fired up at Sierra |

Glen Plake gets spring skiers fired up at Sierra

Chad Sellmer, Tribune staff writer

PHILLIPS — The Mohawk was enough to draw the average person’s attention, but it was his willingness to stay late into the evening signing autographs that will forever endear celebrity hot-dog skier Glen Plake in the minds of his many fans.

More than 100 people waited into the late afternoon Saturday at Sierra-at-Tahoe for a chance to shake hands with a local legend. Plake and his famous hairdo have appeared in numerous ski movies and ski-related promotions, including the popular Warren Miller films.

Plake signed autographs on personalized posters and posed for photos at the Sierra Pub during his Wild, Wild Hot Dog Tour. He followed that up with a hot-dog-eating contest to see who could stuff his or her mouth full of dogs and whistle at the same time for prizes and glory.

The annual tour, which is exclusive to Booth Creek-owned resorts, also features Plake doing a Ski Along with anyone interested in learning new tricks or just watching the freestyle master perform.

“I had a great time skiing with Glen all day,” said Jordan Sugerik, a Sierra employee. “He taught me how to do the ‘Polish Donut’. But after I slid about 300 yards on my back, I figured out I probably wasn’t doing it right. Glen was awesome — he’s a super down-to-earth guy.”

The tour also featured a halfpipe jam for more prizes, which was attended by about 100 people of all ages.

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“When we were young we used to have obstacle courses in a winter carnival (atmosphere),” Plake said. “I always thought that was a neat thing to do, having stupid events like gunnysack races and obstacle courses. But we’re not allowed to do that anymore. Now it’s got to be serious events in a serious tournament.

“We do seven events per year, and I don’t know of a halfpipe jam tour that goes on. It is all free with no entries. So many things nowadays are like the X Games, but what about the people who might want to get in and just try it?”

Plake said he’s inspired to continue the tour because he honestly enjoys the experience.

“Just getting out and skiing with everybody is fun, whether it’s little kids or some older people or those who watch my films,” he said.

Plake’s wife, Kimberly, said she was amazed at the turnout for the halfpipe jam.

“I couldn’t believe it. I heard some people talking behind me and they said they had never seen so many people at the halfpipe at one time,” she said. “That’s what this is all about, keeping the energy level up and keeping it fun, not just serious competition.”

Not only did the average Plake fan lined up for the halfpipe jam and afternoon party at Sierra Pub; a couple of Sierra’s and the world’s top skiers, Travis Cabral and Travis Ramos, were also on hand. Ramos won the jam with some huge air, showing off his best stuff by skying over Plake, who was watching runs and taking down names at the lip of the halfpipe.

“It’s good to see him here at Sierra promoting the sport and staying true to the roots of having fun skiing,” said Ramos, the 2002 national moguls champion and former World Cup winner. “Anytime I’m doing well it’s because I’m having fun.”

“I grew up skiing with Glen,” said Cabral, this year’s World Cup series moguls champion. “When I was 7 years old, he was the one who actually got me into freestyle and moguls contests. He has been an idol for me all these years. He’s trying to help freestyle out, promoting old-school hot dog and innovating it to new-school freestyle. That’s what keeps us going, to have people coming out to the ski resorts and pumping up the kids to do freestyle and have fun. That’s what it’s all about, having fun.”

In addition to the tour events, Sierra general manager John Rice picked up a guitar and got on the pub’s stage with his brother, Jim, Saturday afternoon to cover some hits.

Rice called Plake “an institution” in South Lake Tahoe.

“He is probably the best-known skier in the world because of his hairdo and his bright personality,” he said. “He’s got a wonderful family and we just really love having Glen here.”