Princeton resident, Will Horton was recently recognized by Blue Ridge Country magazine in their “2020 Best of the Blue Ridge” awards. Horton was named “Best Adventurer” by the readers of the magazine.
Since Winterplace Ski Resort opened for its first season in 1983, Horton estimates he’s taught thousands of people how to ski. He is the last remaining original ski instructor and two of his children are now part of the Winterplace ski patrol.
“It started with a love of playing in the snow and cold weather”, says Horton.”A quick trip to Snowshoe the year they opened got the ski bug started. This was followed by a Physical Education class at WVU. The class required us to go to Canaan Valley for a week of instruction, which required us to take nine classes over the week. This was so much fun, I repeated the classes the next year.”
“In 1983, Winterplace advertised for employees”, says Horton. “I applied and they asked in the interview if I ski and what equipment I owned. I skied and I had my own equipment, so I became a ski instructor.”
What keeps him going after all these years? “The camaraderie and the friendship among the instructors have kept me coming back each season, along with having the ability to travel to other ski resorts and have many different adventures”, says Horton. “Having the opportunity for unexpected excitement keeps the adventure new and exciting year to year.”
Horton also is responsible for naming one of the slopes at Winterplace. “During the opening of Winterplace, they had a contest to name a slope”, says Horton. “I won and the slope was named Ridgerunner.”
In the warmer months, Horton enjoys mountain biking, any water activity (especially whitewater activities), hiking sections of the Appalachian Trail and watching Princeton Rays baseball.
According to Horton, the diversity of activities in southern West Virginia is what makes it such a special place for outdoor adventure. “Festivals, zip lines, mountain biking, bird watching, fishing, whitewater rafting, skiing, photography, sports events, golf, rock climbing, outdoor dramas, quaint small towns to explore, and of course ATV riding” says Horton. “All these things make southern West Virginia a wild and wonderful place to live or visit.”
During the off-season, you can find Horton climbing, kayaking, mountain biking, and enjoying the outdoors. Horton encourages everyone to get out and explore Mercer County and the rest of West Virginia, no matter the time of year. But winter is still his favorite adventure season, when he gets to strap on his skis and share his passion for the snow with others.
This post was last updated on January 22, 2020