Legacy: 1938

Fall Line

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Impressing female skiers was once as easy as applying a good coat of wax with a warm, slow hand. Before the introduction in the mid-1950s of polyethylene bases (like P-Tex and Kofix), which automatically shed snow, a day of skiing could be ruined by the wrong wax stopping you in your tracks. One way to prevent snow from clinging underfoot was to paint lacquer-like Faski on the ski’s wood base. Another was to rub klister or pine tar into the base, then apply a “running” paraffin wax matched to the day’s snow conditions-warm or cold, powder or corn. Some waxes were mixed with graphite powder to increase glide and speed. A-X from Switzerland was a popular wet-snow wax. Sohm’s red and blue waxes were also favorites.

Ski waxes could be rubbed on by hand, applied with a hot iron and a cork block, or layered on with a brush after being melted. These were multitasking skis. By unhooking a cable from the binding’s side hitches, skiers could kick and glide cross-country-which required application of yet another wax.

The better ski hotels, such as the Sun Valley Lodge, offered elaborate wax rooms, where a shop assistant, guests or an occasional dashing instructor, waxed skis. It was messy work…not the sort of thing a girl was inclined to do, at least not if a handsome-and gullible-guy could be charmed into doing it for her.

Sept. 2004