First Sign Of Winter

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Check out the latest equipment, research a bargain ski vacation or watch an Olympic medalist go big off an indoor jump. Attending an autumn ski show is one way to get pumped for the upcoming ski season. Another way is to save big bucks. The shows include discounts on gear, lift tickets and travel packages. At many of the events, there also will be Learn to Ski & Snowboard Centers, designed to help rookies get on snow. Here are a few regional picks. For a complete show schedule, go to skimag.com and search for "ski shows."

Nov. 1-3 Colorado Snowsports Expo
Colorado Convention Center, Denver, Colo.; www.aminews.com/bewi.

Nov. 1-3 Portland Ski Fever & Snowboard Show
Portland Expo Center, Portland, Ore.; www.aminews.com/bewi.

Nov. 7-10 Chicago Ski & Snowboard Expo
Donald E. Stephens Convention Center, Rosemont, Ill.;www.chicagoskishow.com.

Nov. 8-10 Connecticut Snowsports Expo
Hartford Civic Center, Hartford, Conn.; www.aminews.com/bewi.

Nov. 14-17 Boston Globe Snowsports Expo
Bayside Expo Center, Boston, Mass.; www.aminews.com/bewi.

Nov. 21-24 Ski Dazzle 2002
Los Angeles Convention Center, Los Angeles, Calif.; www.skidazzle.com.

Farmers Know Best?

Listen to the farmers and you might get a hankering to buy a pair of fat skis this season. The 184-year-old Farmers' Almanac, based in Lewiston, Maine, predicts "a rough winter" with "precipitation expected to be above average and temperatures somewhat colder in all regions, except the Northwest." The Almanac derives its forecasts from a secret model that uses factors such as sunspot activity, moon phases and other astronomical conditions. "I told people to buy two snowblowers last winter, but the drought never ended," says Almanac editor Pete Geiger. "This winter I'm saying buy one snowblower and a can of gas. You should be busy."

For the record

Some people are weekend skiers; others strive to reach the magic 100-days-a-season mark. A few individuals, however, change the sport itself: The 2002 inductees into the U.S. National Ski Hall of Fame in Ishpeming, Mich., for instance.

A mountain guide with a strong entrepreneurial bent, Hans Gmoser, now 70, came up with a novel idea for a ski lift in 1965: the helicopter. For $260 per person, his new company, Canadian Mountain Holidays, transported 18 adventurers deep into the Bugaboos for a week of "heliskiing," forever changing the fantasy content of every skier's dreams.

Other inductees include: Indefatigable racer and teacher Georgene Bihlman, who has won more than 800 trophies and awards, starting in the 1950s; 10th Mountain Division veteran John Litchfield, joined by Friedle Pfeifer and others, founded Aspen's first ski school in the mid 1940s, before bringing his innovations to Sun Valley; From 1960 to 1980, Dr. Robert Oden was the medical advisor to the U.S. Olympic Committee, working to promote race-course safety; Carroll P. Reed took over the failed Saks Fifth Avenue store in Jackson, N.H., in 1937 and started his own eponymous retail empire, offering one of America's first mail-order catalogs in the late 1930s.

Nikki Stone was the first freestyle competitor in the world to win every major title, including Rookie of the Year, National Aerial Champion, World Cup Aerial Champion and Olympic Gold Medalist.

After joining the U.S. Ski Team in 1991, she became one of its most successful skiers. Stone, 31, retired from competition in 1999.