March/April 2000

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Features

New York Pride

I have skied more than 45 of New York's ski areas and truly appreciated Steve Cohen's article "I Love Skiing New York" (February 2000). Every Monday when I return to work boasting about my great New York ski weekend, I get ridiculed by my co-workers who are only Vermont destination skiers. Yet after conquering my fear at Four Seasons, perfecting my parallel turns at Labrador Mountain and racing at almost every resort in the state, I believe the skiing experience isn't about vertical, bumps or powder. It's about the freedom to carve in my backyard and preserving the foundations of the sport.

Brett Gingold

Rochester, N.Y.

On The Brink
In "New School Revolution" (Ski Life, February 2000), it is stated in the caption that "...skiercross could be the future of competitive skiing¿if it lasts." Since skiercross would seem to have the same relationship to World Cup skiing that a destruction derby has to CART or Formula 1 racing, that doesn't sound like much of a future to me.
Jack Nixon
Crested Butte, Colo.

Above The Rest
I couldn't believe that you didn't include Seth Morrison in your "Gold Medal Roundtable" (January 2000). Though many of the skiers you did have at Whistler are among the best in the world, they are all light years behind what Morrison is doing now. He's the only one who knows where the soul of skiing is going and we should be following him.
A.J. Graham
Melrose, Mass.

Leave Home Without It
Three cheers to Jay Cowan on his stand against cell phones on the mountain in "Should Cell Phones Be Banned?" (Ski Life Forum, January 2000). Cell phones have their place in this world, but a recreational area is not one of them. I truly believe that there is an insurmountable barrier between my world of work and my world of play. At the office my focus is entirely on the task at hand. Once I walk out the door at the end of the day, however, I'm on my time. I can't even imagine conducting business anywhere else other than in the office, be it on a ski mountain, a golf course or a hiking trail.
Stan Wojciechowski
Chicago, Ill.

There is growing evidence that cell phones cause brain damage. After reading Paul Hochman's commentary supporting cell phone use at ski areas, I conclude that Hochman should be very worried. And while the fine for littering in Aspen is $500, logic tells me that the penalty for dumping a body from a gondola is probably higher.
Mike Dugan
Lenox, Mass.

I've come to the conclusion that the world would be a better place if the gondola passenger had thrown that "cretin" out of the window along with the offending Nokia. The fundamental problem with banning cell phones is that there is very little enforcement. The people who feel the need to trumpet their importance on the ski hill through their cell phones are just going to become more obnoxious if we let them.
Mike Hendrickson
San Diego, Calif.

A Heart-Felt Reception
My 15-year-old son, Rob, died five years ago of a head injury that was the result of an accident similar to the fall Peter Shelton experienced in his Mountain Chronicle column, "Head First" (January 1999). My son was training with his ski team when he caught an edge, fell and slid off the trail, striking his head on a tree. Never regaining consciousness, he died about six hours later. For years I have been haunted by the thought that Rob's last thought was fear. But after reading Shelton's article, I now hope that his last conscious moments were spent thinking about the sport he loved.
Maggie Corchnoy
Laurel Springs, N.J.

Kudos to Peter Shelton for sharing his "edging glitch" experience with your readers. I have two teenage sons who are accomplished skiers, wear helmets faithfully and spend most of their time on advanced terrain. Like most boys their age, they get so caht up in a quest for that perfect jump, that thoughts of self-preservation seldom enter their minds. Concerned for their safety, I constantly tell them to check their speed, ski courteously and stay away from the edges of wooded runs. Peter's article was very helpful in exemplifying the dangers I have been preaching to them about.
John Meadows
Westminster, Colo.

Breaking The Mold
I am glad to see that a more diverse group of people are becoming part of your magazine ("The Color Of Skiing," January 2000). I have attended the last two National Brotherhood of Skiers summits in Park City, Utah, and Vail, Colo. Not only have the summits been a lot of fun for everyone involved, they have helped the local economy at these areas. (The one in Vail brought in an estimated $10 million in one week.) Even so, there are still those people who give us strange looks when we ski past them on the mountain and who are obviously surprised to see us. But there are just as many who don't care what you look like as long as you can keep up. Believe me, we are doing more than just keeping up!
Steven Paige
Newport Beach, Calif.

The Nastar Challenge
John Fry's column, "It's Time To Keep Score" (In My View, January 2000), is right on target. I recently attended a presentation for potential ski instructors at my local ski area, and the ski school director said that his No. 1 goal for students is to have fun, not to improve. The idea of using Nastar to measure progress is wonderful. If ski instructors and students could gauge students' improved times on Nastar courses, it would benefit skiing tremendously. Skiing becomes more enjoyable as you improve¿and that requires technical instruction.
Mary Ann Tilford
Tucson, Ariz.

John Fry's article, "It's Time to Keep Score," leads me to believe that he has a very limited view of what skiing is all about. There are many ways in which to evaluate one's skiing abilities other than by running Nastar gates, such as practicing style, grace and confidence on the hill. When I ski in-bounds, I'm doing it to have fun and to polish my skills. Speed has nothing to do with it. In my 61 years of skiing, I have never run a gate nor felt the need to compare myself to anyone else.
Ross Petrie
Portland, Ore.

Big Bucks
For many years I have enjoyed skiing Snowshoe, W. Va. After reading "Weekend at Snowshoe Mountain" (January 2000, East edition), I was excited to find out that Intrawest Corp. has been investing millions into the resort. There is improved snow coverage, a new high-speed quad on Cupp Run and more lodging options. But the resort is becoming too crowded. This past Christmas vacation, the week was entirely sold out at the lodge where we wanted to stay. With Intrawest's money comes more skiers and 45-minute-long liftlines. Next time, please list the problems that arise when expansion brings increased housing but not increased food and lift services.
Mike Johnson
Granville, Ohio

Green & White
I read with great interest the two-part series "Skiing and the Environment" (November and December 1999). There is only so much land and our public lands belong to all of us, not just those of us who enjoy resort skiing. While I love to ski, I cannot justify taking terrain away from other outdoor enthusiasts just because corporate giants like Vail would like to entice me with more terrain.
Michael Raines
Lakewood, Colo.

Bruce Hamilton, conservation director of the Sierra Club's national office in San Francisco, Calif., insists his organization is "not opposed to all ski area expansions and new developments." Please, Mr. Hamilton, show us one instance in which the Sierra Club has been in favor of expansion. Ever since Mickey Mouse was a rat (Disney's proposed Mineral King project), the Sierra Club has used any means possible to prevent ski area expansion.
Bob Bergstrom
Woodland Hills, Calif.

Picking The Pros
After reading your article about the best ski schools ("Learn From The Best," December 1999), I was put off by the description of the survey's No. 5 selection, the Ski & Snowboard Schools of Aspen. It reads as though 1,000 instructors work on Aspen Mountain alone and I found this terribly misleading. In fact, the majority of the school's lessons are given at Snowmass by some of the school's best instructors. Let's give credit where credit is due.
Don Jewkes
Snowmass Village, Colo.

Ed. Note: Instructors for the Ski & Snowboard Schools of Aspen teach at all four Aspen ski areas, including Buttermilk and Aspen Highlands in addition to Aspen Mountain and Snowmass.

Ernie Lives
I find it hard to believe that a magazine featuring the Ernie Blake Ski School in Taos, N.M., as one of the "10 best" could fail (in the same issue, no less) to list Ernie Blake as one of the ski industry's 100 most influential persons of the century. Taos Ski Valley is still known as "Ernie's Mountain," and the joys of skiing that mountain are unparalleled. I wouldn't trade my memories of skiing "Ernie's Mountain" for all the chapstick in China!
Ron Bliss
Colorado Springs, Colo.

Ed. Note: Ernie Blake actually finished just outside of the Top 100.

On The Up and Up
Your writer Andrew Slough has his finger on the pulse of the masses in "Is Skiing Getting Better?" (Ski Life Forum, December 1999). Slough addresses a universal skier concern: At what point does the escalation in ski prices stop? Are the owners and shareholders of our favorite ski resorts really in touch with the "average" man? The costs have reached such incredible heights, the special week rates have disappeared and the weekends are way too crowded.
Gunther
Woodinville, Wash.

It Pays To Save
My family was one of the winners of the Frugal Family contest (November 1999), and I want to thank SKI for the day at Jay Peak, Vt. I was pleased with the resort's amenities, the lift operators were friendly, and there is some great terrain. I also enjoyed the European feel of Jay Peak and was impressed by the overall experience we had there.
Layne Russell
Liberty, Pa.

Sharing Memories
Regarding Edie Thys' column "The Downhill Racer" (January 2000): as a high-school student I saw the movie "Downhill Racer" and despite knowing that I didn't possess the skill or the time on the mountain to become Dave Chappelet, I nevertheless did fantasize about the woman in the Porsche and skiing in the mountains of the world while enjoying the culture and scenery. Over the years I have indulged myself in week-long ski trips, and every year I try to find some place new to discover. A few years ago I went to Kitzbühel, Austria, and skied the Hahnenkamm (with the brakes on), but I was a professional sightseer and partier at the London Pub. Edie's article brought back many memories of the experience.
Paul Capellini
Lindenhurst, N.Y.

Learning The Moves
Edie Thys' column "Lighten Up" (November 1999) was well done and quite right regarding all-mountain freeskiing. With paying customers and new-to-Alta instructors, we have to encourage them to lighten up. Alf Engen, my boss for almost three decades, would say in his Norwegian accent such things as "ski the mountain, not the turn. Flow like water." Or, "Caress the snow, don't crush it." In my experience, junior racers have the most difficulty changing. As you point out, powder turns require a longer-time, softer edge. Junior racers usually have learned a shorter-time, trench-digging edge. But not the Austrian racers that I've seen. They have learned to ski all kinds of snow at high speeds, adjusting pressure and edge angle appropriately. Maybe this is one reason why they have and are doinpansion.
Bob Bergstrom
Woodland Hills, Calif.

Picking The Pros
After reading your article about the best ski schools ("Learn From The Best," December 1999), I was put off by the description of the survey's No. 5 selection, the Ski & Snowboard Schools of Aspen. It reads as though 1,000 instructors work on Aspen Mountain alone and I found this terribly misleading. In fact, the majority of the school's lessons are given at Snowmass by some of the school's best instructors. Let's give credit where credit is due.
Don Jewkes
Snowmass Village, Colo.

Ed. Note: Instructors for the Ski & Snowboard Schools of Aspen teach at all four Aspen ski areas, including Buttermilk and Aspen Highlands in addition to Aspen Mountain and Snowmass.

Ernie Lives
I find it hard to believe that a magazine featuring the Ernie Blake Ski School in Taos, N.M., as one of the "10 best" could fail (in the same issue, no less) to list Ernie Blake as one of the ski industry's 100 most influential persons of the century. Taos Ski Valley is still known as "Ernie's Mountain," and the joys of skiing that mountain are unparalleled. I wouldn't trade my memories of skiing "Ernie's Mountain" for all the chapstick in China!
Ron Bliss
Colorado Springs, Colo.

Ed. Note: Ernie Blake actually finished just outside of the Top 100.

On The Up and Up
Your writer Andrew Slough has his finger on the pulse of the masses in "Is Skiing Getting Better?" (Ski Life Forum, December 1999). Slough addresses a universal skier concern: At what point does the escalation in ski prices stop? Are the owners and shareholders of our favorite ski resorts really in touch with the "average" man? The costs have reached such incredible heights, the special week rates have disappeared and the weekends are way too crowded.
Gunther
Woodinville, Wash.

It Pays To Save
My family was one of the winners of the Frugal Family contest (November 1999), and I want to thank SKI for the day at Jay Peak, Vt. I was pleased with the resort's amenities, the lift operators were friendly, and there is some great terrain. I also enjoyed the European feel of Jay Peak and was impressed by the overall experience we had there.
Layne Russell
Liberty, Pa.

Sharing Memories
Regarding Edie Thys' column "The Downhill Racer" (January 2000): as a high-school student I saw the movie "Downhill Racer" and despite knowing that I didn't possess the skill or the time on the mountain to become Dave Chappelet, I nevertheless did fantasize about the woman in the Porsche and skiing in the mountains of the world while enjoying the culture and scenery. Over the years I have indulged myself in week-long ski trips, and every year I try to find some place new to discover. A few years ago I went to Kitzbühel, Austria, and skied the Hahnenkamm (with the brakes on), but I was a professional sightseer and partier at the London Pub. Edie's article brought back many memories of the experience.
Paul Capellini
Lindenhurst, N.Y.

Learning The Moves
Edie Thys' column "Lighten Up" (November 1999) was well done and quite right regarding all-mountain freeskiing. With paying customers and new-to-Alta instructors, we have to encourage them to lighten up. Alf Engen, my boss for almost three decades, would say in his Norwegian accent such things as "ski the mountain, not the turn. Flow like water." Or, "Caress the snow, don't crush it." In my experience, junior racers have the most difficulty changing. As you point out, powder turns require a longer-time, softer edge. Junior racers usually have learned a shorter-time, trench-digging edge. But not the Austrian racers that I've seen. They have learned to ski all kinds of snow at high speeds, adjusting pressure and edge angle appropriately. Maybe this is one reason why they have and are doing so well on the racing circuit.
Sid Jenson
Alf Engen Ski School
Alta, Utah

Surprised By The Stats
W hen I read the October 1999 issue rating the Top 60 ski resorts in North America I was shocked to see that Taos Ski Valley was not included in the rankings. I can't believe that this expert mountain, which boasts more than 50 percent expert runs, has European flair and is home to some of the best culture and food in the Southwest, was overlooked by your readers. I would take the steeps of Taos over Arapahoe Basin, Colo., or Squaw Valley USA, Calif., any day.
Wendy Bianchini
Bozeman, Mont.

When I read Aspen's review in the Top 60 Reader Resort Guide (October 1999), I was frustrated to find the first few lines of readers comments were complaints that "Aspen is expensive, the mountain is cramped, and the inhabitants are snobbish." This is a view seen by those close-minded people who judge Aspen by what they hear, not what they experience. I moved to Aspen four years ago and can attest to the bond that our town has. The locals take care of each other, and the only snobbish behavior that occurs comes from second and third homeowners who live here for two weeks out of the year and consider themselves locals. Spend some real time here and you'll quickly see that we are all just a bunch of old-school, hard-core ski bums trying to keep the spirit of a Western ski town alive.
Jeremy Barbin
Aspen, Colo.

For The Record
The correct address for the Dobson House (Savvy Traveler, Inn of the Month, December 1999) is P.O. Box 1584, El Prado, N.M. 87529.doing so well on the racing circuit.
Sid Jenson
Alf Engen Ski School
Alta, Utah

Surprised By The Stats
W hen I read the October 1999 issue rating the Top 60 ski resorts in North America I was shocked to see that Taos Ski Valley was not included in the rankings. I can't believe that this expert mountain, which boasts more than 50 percent expert runs, has European flair and is home to some of the best culture and food in the Southwest, was overlooked by your readers. I would take the steeps of Taos over Arapahoe Basin, Colo., or Squaw Valley USA, Calif., any day.
Wendy Bianchini
Bozeman, Mont.

When I read Aspen's review in the Top 60 Reader Resort Guide (October 1999), I was frustrated to find the first few lines of readers comments were complaints that "Aspen is expensive, the mountain is cramped, and the inhabitants are snobbish." This is a view seen by those close-minded people who judge Aspen by what they hear, not what they experience. I moved to Aspen four years ago and can attest to the bond that our town has. The locals take care of each other, and the only snobbish behavior that occurs comes from second and third homeowners who live here for two weeks out of the year and consider themselves locals. Spend some real time here and you'll quickly see that we are all just a bunch of old-school, hard-core ski bums trying to keep the spirit of a Western ski town alive.
Jeremy Barbin
Aspen, Colo.

For The Record
The correct address for the Dobson House (Savvy Traveler, Inn of the Month, December 1999) is P.O. Box 1584, El Prado, N.M. 87529.