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The Year in Skiing 2003

Fall Line

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SO, BABY, WHAT ARE YOU WEARING UNDER YOUR JACKET? A misprint in 400,000 consumer ski guides published by Colorado Ski Country USA resulted in a phone-sex line being listed instead of a central reservations number. This could be the first effective marketing campaign in ski history.

CHECK OUT THAT D-SPIN 1080, SON You don’t watch ski videos, but your kids do. (You think they’re studying in their rooms?) Ski Movie III, The Front Line is the best video of 2003. Seth Morrison’s segment will bridge the generation gap with your twin-tip-riding, halfpipe-loving offspring-at least for 72 minutes.

LIDS ON KIDS This season Aspen required all children (up to age 12) in its ski school to wear helmets. The Colorado resort is the first major ski area to mandate toppers. “We feel that these ski school kids are in our care, and it’s our job to take care of them,” says Aspen executive David Bellack. Correct.

I CAN’T WALK, BUT I CAN WIN Finally, ski racing learns what marathon organizers have known for years: Aging athletes want to test themselves against their peers. The Oregon Winter Games lets skiers compete in age groups, from 8-and-under to 70-plus. Better yet: If you’re over 50 and pull off a rail slide, you’ll snag a medal. Last year there weren’t any competitors older than 45 in the Slope Style event.

ANOTHER REASON TO KEEP ON LIVING Not only is Kari Traa slam-on-the-brakes gorgeous, the Norwegian freestyler can make any bump run on the planet beg for mercy. World-class athlete, blond, babe. The reigning Olympic moguls champ is the sort of star any sport would be glad to have.

BODE BREAKS FREE Making the Austrians nervous is a huge feat, but to be in the running for the overall World Cup title until the last race earns true respect. With Hermann Maier now 30 and Stephan Eberharter 34, 25-year-old Bode Miller can be called the best young skier in the world.

THONGS GONE ALL WRONG We’ll live with the old-school, incredibly sexist, annual Bikini Slalom in Telluride, Colo. But a concurrent male Ski-A-Thong? We don’t know anyone-male or female-who wants to see guys in thongs tucking through the finish.

“HOW ARE THE SNAUSAGES TODAY?” Steamboat’s Slopeside Grill knows how to lure the locals. The après-ski hangout offers a menu for man’s best friend, even allowing tail-waggers tableside on the deck. A bowl of Purina costs $2.45, with Iams slightly more. Advice: Keep the Rottweilers away from the Jagermeister.

“IF I GET MY HAND OUTTA THIS MITTEN, IT’S TO THE MOON, ALICE!” We support both warm hands and romance. But Smittens, “walking mittens for friends and lovers” seem, well, downright sweaty. A $30 set includes one double mitt and two singles. Too close to knitted handcuffs for our taste.

NO SLEIGH? NO PROBLEM. Imagine seeing 250 Santas ripping down Broadway at Sunday River. As part of a local fundraiser on Dec. 20, the Maine resort provided free lift tickets to anyone dressed as St. Nick. Looks like fun, but we’ll hold out until someone makes a fake beard that’s waterproof and breathable.

COMEBACK OF THE YEAR There may have been more prestigious victories for Austrian superstar Hermann Maier, but none more meaningful than his January World Cup super G gold medal, won in front of the home crowd at Kitzbühel, Austria. The “Herminator” stepped onto the victor’s podium 17 months after a life-threatening motorcycle accident nearly cost him a leg.

NEW ENGLAND CHAIN SAW MASSACRE The latest trend out of the Northeast has locals secretly hand-thinning unmarked glades to customize favorite tree shots. Problem: Some old-growth stands were aired out. Another problem: Clandestine trail-designers tend to over-prune, turning tight tree runs into bumped-out glades. We applaud the passion, but here’s a solution: Keep the trees, strap on a helmet, and turn fasterr.

USA, USA, USA Daron Rahlves achieved nothing less this year than the best downhill season in U.S. Ski Team history by an American male. Led by a win at the legendary Hahnenkamm (downhill’s Super Bowl) Rahlves hit an astounding six podiums in 10 downhills, earning second place in World Cup downhill standings-the best ever by an American male. Even better, he has the talent to improve on that next season.

PLEASE PUT YOUR SEAT IN AN UPRIGHT POSITION, AND STOW YOUR ALTERED PASSPORT IN THE OVERHEAD COMPARTMENT Police stopped Italian stallion Alberto Tomba at the Rome airport after he allegedly tried to pen in a new date on his expired passport. The retired racer missed his flight, but wasn’t arrested. That’s what three Olympic gold medals, a World Cup overall title, a few world championship wins and a really rich dad buys you in Italy.

FOR $15, YOU CAN WATCH THE BATHROOMS BEING CLEANED Seven Springs, Pa., knows a business opportunity when it has a tiller on the back and a blade on the front. Guests kept asking for nighttime rides on groomers, so the resort decided to charge $20 a head to let ’em ride during the frozen wee hours. Tours leave at 11 p.m., midnight and 1 a.m. Vivarin not included.