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90-year-old helps kick off Snow Train

Frederica “Freddie” Anderson, 90, disembarks the first ski train to return to North Creek in decades. Anderson is a Schenectady-are ski instructor who rode the very first ski train to North Creek in 1934.

Frederica “Freddie” Anderson, 90, disembarks the first ski train to return to North Creek in decades. Anderson is a Schenectady-are ski instructor who rode the very first ski train to North Creek in 1934. Jim Nash

— So, was her latest ski-train trip poignant?

“The thing that delighted me was that the weather was beautiful,” she said. “I sat on the river side of the train, of course. It's just a lovely passage.”

The trip spurred pleasant memories, Anderson said, memories she had no urge to share.

It wasn't as exciting as her first trip, but then “there weren't as many young people on board,” she said.

“I had a wonderful day up at Gore,” she said. “I feel as good as — or better — on my skis as I ever have. I can keep up with anyone in terms of style.”

If Anderson has a Zen relationship with the past, she eschews emotion for practicality when asked about the future. There were 38 passengers Dec. 30, according to 22-year-old train conductor Mark Ellsworth, compared to hundreds on the 1934 debut.

Does she see the new ski train returning yet again after its scheduled season ends in March?

“Life has changed so much since 1934,” she said. “People aren't going to take the snow train to ski. If nothing else, it's faster to just drive.”

Instead, people will more likely take the train today simply for the experience — to just enjoy the moment and the experience of an unworried present.

Perhaps that explains Anderson’s special greeting at North Creek. It's the winter of 2011-2012, and the U.S. is still struggling to recover from the Great Recession. Out of a train, of all things, came the undeniable evidence of improbable success — a 90-year-old ski instructor who shows no sign of, or even concern about, slowing.

Maybe Anderson's a metaphor for the region's prospects.

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