Sabato Caputo, of Lansing, left, and David Zemens, of Rockford, are pictured at Mount Brighton at the end of their record-breaking Michigan ski area trip. The riders set a North American record by visiting and riding at 16 different ski resorts in a 24-hour period.

Sabato Caputo, of Lansing, left, and David Zemens, of Rockford, are pictured at Mount Brighton at the end of their record-breaking Michigan ski area trip. The riders set a North American record by visiting and riding at 16 different ski resorts in a 24-hour period.

Photo provided by Pat Schutte, of Mount Brighton


Native Michigan snowboarders break North American record

By: Jacob Herbert | C&G Newspapers | Published February 8, 2019

David Zemens and Sabato Caputo met via online forums based around snow sports in Michigan. Riders would often post on these sites as they were going to ride different hills in case anyone wanted to meet up.

Zemens had been skiing since his grandmother got him lessons in the fifth grade. It wasn’t until after college that he switched to the snowboard.

Caputo’s path into snow sports was a little different. The Lansing native didn’t start on the slopes until January of 2011 when he and his wife, Lori Caputo, learned together.

No matter how different the path, both men learned to snowboard and eventually crossed paths. From there, Zemens had a plan to go for a record and Caputo was immediately on board.

“He (David) mentioned it to me five or six years ago,” Caputo said. “Not long after I met him. He had this idea to ride so many resorts in Michigan. Way back then, he told me about it and I was like, ‘I’m in. I don’t care when or how we do it, but I’m in.’”

Zemens said the idea for this trip was inspired by an article in Snowboarder Magazine that told of a rider in Vermont visiting and riding down 12 different ski resorts in a 24-hour period back in 2013, which was the previous record.

“At the time, I remember seeing that and saying, ‘Wow, that’s crazy.’ It sounded like a neat little road trip to do,” Zemens said. “I had this idea that we could do more than 12 because there are so many in Michigan and there’s not a lot of drive time between most of them.”

Just days later, the Rockford native started planning a route on Google Maps.

Michigan has 49 ski areas in the state, according to michigan.org, which is the second most in the nation. There are many ski resorts within close proximity both in the metro Detroit area and up in the northwestern corner of the state, near Traverse City.

It was because of this that Zemens and Caputo knew they would be able to hammer out more than 12 resorts in a 24-hour period.

With so many resorts to touch base with, the two riders paired up with Mickey MacWilliams, president of the Michigan Snowsports Industries Association.

MacWilliams was a major help to Caputo and Zemens as she was able to contact every resort on the route to secure lift tickets for the riders.

MacWilliams said part of the reason she was willing to help out was due to the exposure that snow sports in Michigan would get because of this trip.

“The whole idea of them wanting to break the record and ski in as many places as they could in one day in Michigan was the thing that really got my attention,” she said. “We have so many ski areas that are near major metropolitan areas so that people can get out and go ski. I felt like doing something like this could help promote our ski areas and shows people that there really are a lot of them this area.”

The riders were more than appreciative of MacWilliams’ help.

“She’s really the one that took the dream and made it possible, because she did all the coordinating with the resorts to get us access to the lifts,” Caputo said. “She helped with overnight stays. She really championed it. She took it from dream to reality.”

With a route in place, the two started their record-breaking attempt on Friday, Jan. 11, at 9 p.m. From the very start of it, the exclusivity of snow sports and ski resorts in Michigan was on full display.

“Every single ski resort had somebody there waiting for us,” Zemens said. “We had talked to a surprising amount of television news crews, and I wasn’t really expecting that. I don’t want to say they rolled out the red carpet for us, but most of the ski areas were really into being a part of it.”

The route began at Boyne Highlands in Harbor Springs. The resort made sure Zemens and Caputo were able to get the last chair of the night at 9:01 p.m. From there, it’s a six-minute drive to Nub’s Nob, where the second run was made.

The third and final stop of the night was made 38 minutes from Nub’s Nob, at Boyne Mountain. The resort was celebrating 70 years of business and in turn was running its lifts for 70 hours straight.

Zemens and Caputo checked in there around 10:30 p.m. and rode the slopes a few times before calling it a night.

Housed at Treetops Resort in Gaylord, the two started their run the next morning right there. They hit the last 13 resorts in a 12-hour period, finishing at Mount Brighton. Other than a missing lift ticket at one of the resorts, the two did not experience any mishaps on their way to riding at 16 resorts in a 24-hour period.

“We were celebrating. It was so fun,” Caputo said about the final run in Brighton, which took place at 8:45 p.m. “This was the culmination of years of talking about it. To not only do it but to see people excited for us doing it, that felt really cool.”

Caputo said what stood out to him on the trip was being able to drive across the entire state in a single day to see all the snow sports culture in little towns along the way.

“To see little kids out there shredding and getting after it,” he said. “I just thought for me personally, that was just something really special.”

Zemens mirrored that message.

“We thought it was great seeing so many kids out there maybe getting their first taste of developing that passion into racing or alpine skiing, because that’s the future of the sport,” Zemens said. “If the kids don’t pick it up and the parents get old and stop doing it, then there’s no more skiers in the industry. It was neat seeing those places support the industry.”

Zemens and Caputo said they have interest in going for the Guinness world record, which is 17 resorts in a 24-hour period set by a rider in Japan.

For more information on the Michigan Snowsports Industries Association, visit goskimichigan.com.