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How to start a conversation on a chairlift



By Derek Lennon EBS Contributor

Every skier and rider spends a good chunk of their time riding the lifts during an average ski day. There aren’t many sports where you’re sitting shoulder-to-shoulder with a total stranger on a cold chair dangling from a cable high off the ground. It’s the perfect time to strike up a conversation and get to know the person sitting next to you.

Riding a chairlift with like-minded snow-sports enthusiasts is a unique experience to say the least. Being friendly and engaging in a bit of mindless chitchat helps to pass the time, accentuate the atmosphere, and complete the ski experience. Plus, it’s easy to start a conversation on a chairlift. All you need to do is start talking.

Whether you’re a happy local, an aspiring Big Sky skier, a curious tourist, or a mountain employee, the chairlift is the ideal time to spread the positive mountain vibes and be nice to your new neighbor.

You never know what interesting people you’ll meet while skiing, until you spark some dialog. PHOTO COURTESY OF LOVE STREET MEDIA

You never know what interesting people you’ll meet while skiing, until you spark some dialog. PHOTO COURTESY OF LOVE STREET MEDIA

If you’re not sure how to start a conversation on a chairlift, here are a few simple conversation starters and points of discussion that you can use:

– Comment on the weather.
– Ask how the day is going.
– Discuss snow conditions.
– Ask what runs they skied today.
– Compliment their equipment.
– Ask where they are from.
– Talk about the news (but avoid politics).

Not everyone is a conversationalist, but the vast majority of people are keen and willing to chat for a short lift ride. If you tend to be a bit of an introvert and someone tries to strike up a conversation with you, have the courtesy to engage in conversation with him or her. You never know whom you might meet.

The chances are good that after a brief stint on a chairlift with a random person, you’ll never see them again. In most cases, the conversation and your chairlift friend will quickly fade from memory by the time you make a few turns—but not always.

Make a point to start more chairlift conversations. You’ll be blown away by the interesting people you’ll meet, the new connections you’ll make, the business opportunities that present themselves, the chance encounters with long lost friends, and the potential to make new ski buddies.

Of course, you’re bound to have a few wild and memorable chairlift rides along the way too. There’s nothing quite as entertaining as someone who’s competing to be the best skier on the mountain, or that one guy who makes everything obnoxious and awkward. But on a whole, the people you’ll ride the lifts with are quality folks who just want to have a good time.

The next time you ride the lift with a stranger, say hi and start a chairlift conversation. It’s fun.

Derek Lennon is a skier and writer who lives, works, and plays in the mountains of the world. He is based in Big Sky, Montana, where he lives with his wife Mia and two dogs.

A version of this story was originally published on the Big Sky Winter blog at Read more interesting content about the area on Visit Big Sky’s blog at

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