Five-year-old Sandro Alba had to drag his hesitant family — parents Ray and Alicia along with baby sister Nevada — out into the cold of New York City on Christmas Day, 2010. Santa brought him a snowboard and obviously the boy wanted to try it out on the local sledding spot near the cemetery called, “Dead Man’s Hill.” There was no better time to do it, since all of Manhattan was blanketed in fluffy snow that morning.
“We trudge through the snow, cursing under our breath and then there goes our son down this hill like he had been doing it his whole life,” Ray recalls.
But don’t just take Ray’s word for it. Go to the video (search “The Urban Skier – Skiing NYC’s Biggest Mountain” on YouTube). “Dead Man’s Hill” is the 17-second clip they shot to memorialize the activity. It might have been no different than the hundreds of thousands of home videos that likely were filmed across the country that day, but for the Albas, it was life-changing.
“In that instant, Alicia, with Nevada all swaddled up in her coat, says to me, ‘Maybe we should start skiing again,’ ” Ray said. “My reply back to her was, ‘Hell, yeah,’ and from that point on there was no turning back. It’s the day we fell back in love with winter, snow and skiing.”