January 25, 2007
Perfection eludes Chuck Davis.Sometimes the blemish is a chunk of snow falling off the tiller of his snowcat. Other times, it’s a thin patch of the white suff. The snow he combs may look flawless to untrained eyes. But, as Davis said, you have to be a little obsessive-compulsive groom ski slopes.”I don’t think there’s such a thing as a perfect pass, but I’m always trying to get it,” Davis said. “That’s what keeps me going.”Davis recently won the Phatcat Challenge, a competition of some of the best snowcat drivers in the West that was held earlier this month at Vail Mountain. Competitors had to navigate a slalom course, groom a ramp and do two straight “passes” in symmetry.Davis, a Gypsum resident who has been grooming Beaver Creek’s slopes for 16 years, won $1,000. A Vail Mountain groomer, Wil Brown, came in second.Score one for Beaver Creek. There’s a little bit of a rivalry between groomers at Vail and Beaver Creek.”Always has been, always will,” Davis said.Davis entered the contest at the last minute after seeing some other guys navigate the course.”The hardest part was not psyching myself out and making myself look like an idiot,” Davis said. “I didn’t approach it as, ‘Man, I’ve got this,’ but I knew I could do well.”Davis grew up in East Troy, Wis., and, not knowing exactly what to do after college, moved to Eagle County. He worked in Vail as a liftie for a season, and then moved over to Beaver Creek to be a groomer.He now supervises the 3 a.m.-to-1:30 p.m. shift – what’s called the day shift but includes lots of time in the dark.”Being out at night and seeing some of the sunrises, you can’t describe some of that stuff,” he said.He also worked on the downhill and super-G courses for the 2002 Olympics at Salt Lake City.