Finding Love On The Lift: Skiers Give Chairlift Speed Dating A Shot

Originally published on February 12, 2019 4:41 pm

In a new twist on speed dating, a Wisconsin ski resort is working with a matchmaking company to offer lonesome singles a chance to meet their mate while riding up the hill on a chairlift. Call it 'chairlift speed dating.'

Nearly 100 people paid a $58 fee to participate in Wilmot Ski Resort's event. They filled out a survey asking their age, interests and what they're looking for in a potential mate. The next step was to show up at the resort, about an hour southwest of Milwaukee, with ski gear and an open mind.

39-year-old Michelle Kamke was optimistic. "I mean you never know, you just never know," she said. "So I think this is a perfect way to just get out there, enjoy a day skiing and meet someone who has a shared interest as you do."

Kamke works as a marketing manager and loves to ski.

She says it's important that whomever she dates likes outdoor activities just as much as she does.

"One of the first questions I always ask a guy is, do you ski or snowboard?" she said. "What do you like to do for fun in the winter? I'm really looking for someone to be an adventure partner."

Kamke was standing near the fire pit on a 30 degree day, listening to a carefully curated soundtrack of love songs, waiting to be paired with another skiier by professional matchmaker, Meghan Costantino.

Costantino says online dating has its drawbacks, and nothing beats actually meeting someone in person. "The problem ... with online dating is everyone's consumed by physical appearance," she explained. "And a lot of times, that's obviously not what matters. It's really the connection you have with someone."

Once the matchmaker groups the couples, they head to the ski lift. They have just three minutes to decide if its a good match — that's the amount of time it takes to get from the bottom of the hill to the top of the hill on the lift.

Michelle Kamke is paired with 25-year-old Troy Morris — also an avid skier: "I love skiing," he said. "I've been doing it since I could walk ... so I may as well try it."

While not everyone finds a match, Kamke and Morris do. After skiing together and with other people, the two find their way back to each other.

Kamke lives in Madison and Morris in Chicago, but each say the two and half hours between them won't stop them from seeing each other again.

Morris has a special connection to the ski hill.

His parents met there 35 years ago and are still happily skiing together today.

In fact, Troy's mom, Christine, is on ski patrol at the ski resort that same night. But when Michelle and Troy they see her walking in their direction, they snuck away.

One sure way to make a speed date even more awkward would be meeting mom on the slopes.

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MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

You have likely heard of speed dating where people move from table to table, quickly chatting with each other to see if there's a spark. But have you ever heard of speed dating while riding on a ski chairlift? LaToya Dennis of member station WUWM reports from a speed date ski lift event in Wisconsin.

LATOYA DENNIS, BYLINE: Essentially this is speed dating 2.0. You register and pay $58. Then you take a survey that asks your age, your interests, what you're looking for in a potential mate. The next step is to show up with your ski gear and an open mind.

MICHELLE KAMKE: I mean, you never know. You just never know. So I think this is a perfect way to just get out there, enjoy a day of skiing and meet someone who has a shared interest as you do.

DENNIS: That's Michelle Kamke, who's 39 years old, works as a marketing manager and loves to ski.

KAMKE: Well, one of the first questions I always ask a guy is, do you ski or snowboard? What do you like to do for fun in the winter? I'm really looking for someone to be an adventure partner.

DENNIS: Right now Kamke is standing near the fire pit on this 30-degree day listening to a carefully curated soundtrack of love songs, waiting to be paired by a professional matchmaker. There are nearly a hundred singles here waiting to be matched.

MEGHAN COSTANTINO: I have my eyes on a couple people, so I'm going to go right for it. What was your name?

KAMKE: Michelle.

CONSTANTINO: Michelle - all right, Michelle, this is Troy.

KAMKE: Hi, Troy - nice to meet you (laughter).

DENNIS: When it comes to dating these days, matchmaker Meghan Constantino says so much of it is done online. But nothing beats actually meeting in person.

CONSTANTINO: What the problem is with online dating is everyone's consumed by physical appearance. And a lot of times that's obviously not what matters. It's really, you know, the connection that you have with someone.

DENNIS: Constantino paired Kamke with 25-year-old Troy Morris.

TROY MORRIS: I love skiing. I've been doing it since I could walk. And my parents actually met skiing, so it was - you know, might as well try it.

DENNIS: Once Morris and Kamke were partnered, they got on their chairlift and had just three minutes until they reached the top of the hill to decide if they liked each other enough to ski down the hill together. If they didn't, they'd just ski down alone and ask to be paired with someone else. But Morris and Kamke decided to ski together. A few minutes later, we met up again, this time at the top of the hill.

So what do you know so far in the entire - I don't know - five, 10 minutes that you've known each other?

KAMKE: Yeah, well, I think we're both just as passionate about skiing. And he comes from an incredibly passionate family about skiing.

MORRIS: She goes on far more ski trips than I do even though my entire family does it.

DENNIS: Morris says that his mom and dad met skiing. In fact, they met on this exact Hill 35 years ago. His mom, Christine, is on ski patrol here today. And when they see her walking in their direction, they sneak away to be alone because one sure way to make a speed date even more awkward would be meeting Mom on the slopes. For NPR News, I'm LaToya Dennis in Milwaukee. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.