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Canyon Critters: The Prophet

Features
posted: 10/27/2005



One night in March 2002, Mike Nugent, known then simply as The Nuge, had a vision: An avalanche was going to slam into the Peruvian Lodge, where he was living. The Nuge was - how to say? - mining the depths of his psyche at the time. He'd been caught in a class 4 slide just two years earlier, and the Peruvian had been hit several times in the past. He freaked out, packed up, and flew home to Rhode Island that night.

The next morning, an "interlodge" went into effect - a strictly enforced lockdown that closes the access road from Salt Lake and prohibits anybody in town from leaving his building until the avalanche threat has subsided. Nuge called his manager to apologize for his hasty departure - and to inform him of his prediction. The manager thanked him, hung up the phone, and five minutes later, a massive slide ripped into the east wing of the lodge, causing several million dollars' worth of damage, but injuring no one. That's how The Nuge became The Prophet.

The Prophet, 25, is now the employee-housing manager at the Peruvian. Day in and day out, he's the guy who puts the plunger to the toilet and the mop to the vomit. "Your brain sorta becomes enmeshed with all the crap humor," he states flatly, before letting fly with a scatological riff of his own.

The Prophet hasn't skied with poles in four years. He lost one in the 2001 avalanche, gave himself a nasty black eye with the replacement pair, and finally said to hell with them altogether. He relies on his edges, a style of skiing he feels is more economical and "better for my energy level and posture anyway." He hangs with Alta's fastest (pole-wielding) skiers on the resort's many traverses, but mostly he rallies solo laps on Alta's punishingly long, bumpy, and steep run, High Rustler. He's been known to knock off 25 runs a day. Which, given that he has access to some of the world's best skiing, is rather strange.

To the rest of the world, however, the concept of sacrificing your career, social life, and personal hygiene for the sake of a few hundred thousand powder turns doesn't make much sense either.

To Altaholics, that feels perfectly normal. And who dares question The Prophet?

OCTOBER 2005

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