Glen Plake: Evolution of a Rebel

At 55, Hall of Famer Glen Plake is an enduring—and iconic—ambassador for the sport of skiing, its downhome roots and honoring its past.
By Edith Thys Morgan

I’m talking tech with Glen Plake. Not ski technique, though he’s a Level 3 PSIA instructor and newly minted PSIA examiner. Not ski design tech, though he’s spent his career immersed in R&D for his sponsors. Not toy tech, though his Nevada property features “a barn full of redneck toys” for water and land. And not motor tech, though that topic is solidly in his wheelhouse, too. If he was not a professional skier, Plake, who hosts “This Old Truck” for the History Channel, supposes he’d be turning wrenches for a living. 

Today, our tech talk is about our smartphones, and balancing functionality with distraction. Namely, he’s seriously considering downgrading from his hand-me-down, first-generation iPhone 6 to a primitive iPhone 4. More distractions are not what he needs. As he ticks through all the jobs he’s juggling right now—everything above, plus plugging away at his mountain-guide certifications while living between Chamonix, Nevada and the back of his truck, he muses that the one thing he really needs is a clone. “I would definitely trade in my iPhone for that!” 

At 55, Glen Plake is as relevant as ever to skiers, equally at ease and recognized on the streets of Paris (sans Mohawk) as in the parking lot of a podunk ski area in the American Midwest. To those who associate Plake with the loudmouth loose cannon who made his mark in Greg Stump’s 1988 film Blizzard of Aahhh’s, this down-to-earthiness might seem at odds. But anyone who has run across Plake in the past, say, quarter century knows that he is the consummate man of the people, driven chiefly by a pure love of skiing in all its forms. What makes him such an enduring and endearing icon?  Some say humility, but Plake, speaking from his lakeside bunker/oasis in the Nevada desert, sees it slightly differently. “I think it is curiosity.” ...

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