2015 GEAR TESTER PROFILE: Richard “Woody” Wood

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Woody in standard position. [Photo] David Crothers

On the ride up Highway 158 to Utah’s Powder Mountain Resort, you pass a 1,200-acre skiing zone known as Powder Country. Skiers can ride from the top of the resort down to the road and get shuttled back up. That’s where veteran bus driver Richard “Woody” Wood comes in.

Woody has been sitting in the same seat picking skiers up from the base of Powder Country and busing them back up to Powder Mountain for more than 30 years. “I used to load skiers on the back of an old flatbed truck when I first start working here,” Woody laughs as we jog through the switchbacks with a load of testers heading back to our digs for dinner. “We’d lose a few from time to time on the ride back up to the mountain.”

In 2012 he resigned and went into retirement but quickly became bored with home life. “I didn’t like being home all of the time,” Woody says. “I love driving and I love working on these buses. I used to park all of the resort’s buses at my home and start each one of them every morning for the drivers.”

After only a year off, he went back to work driving a bus at Snowbasin Resort, just down the road from his home in Huntsville. “Snowbasin is a really good resort and I really liked working there,” Woody says. “But I came back to Powder Mountain because they give my daughters passes. And they love to ski.”

His daughter Jennifer was a competitive snowboarder and nearly made the Vancouver Olympics but was injured just before trials. “One year she only missed three evenings of night skiing,” Woody laughs. “One of the times I made her stay home because it was her first day back to school. She didn’t talk to me for two week.”

Woody grew up in the small town of Roy, Utah just outside of Ogden but has resided in Huntsville since 1978, where he raised two daughters. “They both learned to ski up here,” Woody recalls. “I was driving up there so much I figured I should just drive the bus and get paid for it.”

In the mid 1950s Woody purchased his first pair of wooden skis. “I don’t know how we used to ski those things,” he says. “I don’t ski anymore but I did try those fat skis a few years ago in Powder Country. I had to.”

This is Woody’s sixth year driving for Gear Test Week. Every morning at 8:30 a.m., he picks us up at our condos in Eden. The only year he missed was when he was in retirement in 2013. “A lot of the other drivers would like to drive you guys up and down the mountain each day.” Woody laughs. “I let them bring other groups up and down the mountain. You guys are just fun and full of spirit.”

Wearing a flannel shirt with a blue vest, dark sunglasses and sporting a PowMow hat, Woody looks out over the road he’s traveled nearly every day for more than 30 years. “It’s been an incredible life driving this road,” Woody recalls. “I’ve met some great friends up here. You guys included.”

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