Few have dissipated as many frivolous years as I compiling dossiers on the sport's most seductive skiers. Among my discoveries is that mature men are attracted by girls with a 36-22-32 build-36 inches of breastwork, a 22 Nastar handicap and 32 years of age.
But what attracts women? A man who cheerfully carries her skis? Possibly, though the true answer may have come to me the other day when, in my painstaking research, I spotted the awesome décolletage of Whistler lift attendant Gina in Freeze, the magazine for the serious pubescent skier. Says Gina, "There's nothing sexier than a guy who does extreme sports, and does them well."
The radiantly beautiful Jill Kinmont would agree. Were it not for a tragic racing crash that put her in a wheelchair, Kinmont would have been a ski superstar...at 19 she had already appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated. In her biography, The Other Side of the Mountain, Kinmont admits that she was exclusively and enthusiastically attracted to men who could ski better than she. One of them was Fifties skiing icon and downhill star Buddy Werner. The other was daredevil Mad Dog Dick Buek.
France's Annie Famose, who won three medals at the 1968 Winter Olympics in Grenoble, was a dark-haired gamine, whose smile would melt a slalom slope. Sexy? When the French women's team stopped in Manhattan in 1972, their first wish was to go to a cinema showing a sensational new movie that anticipated the Oval Office activities of Monica Lewinsky. Les filles de ski annoyed the audience by shrieking with laughter during Deep Throat.
Romantic involvement and marriage are common on today's World Cup circuit. The success this winter of America's best alpine racer, fresh-faced mid-America cover girl Kristina Koznick, may be a case in point. She and coach Dan Stripp-her nearest and dearest-are raising funds to train and travel independently on the circuit (see page 21). The Ski Team doesn't think it's such a hot idea, but welcomes any medals Koznick wins. The foxiest babe I've seen in a ski movie appears in the 1931 film Der Weisse Rausch (White Ecstasy). Dressed in tight-fitting pajamas, she practices ski jumping in bed. In a climactic scene, the gorgeous vixen collapses deliciously onto a down comforter. Later, she races down the mountain with the father of all ski technique, Austrian demi-god Hannes Schneider.
Who was the babe? Leni Riefenstahl. Through her friendship with Adolf Hitler, Riefenstahl became the director of the spectacular propagandistic film, Triumph of the Will. A forthcoming movie about the skiing actress may star Sharon Stone playing Riefenstahl.
Fifty years ago, women seeking an Idaho divorce established legal residency by spending six weeks at the Sun Valley Lodge. There they found comforting solace in the arms of the best skier in the resort's star-studded ski school, the strikingly handsome Hans Hauser, a dark-haired Stein Eriksen of his day. One day, the Adonis-like Hauser was escorted to the room of a new ski pupil, the lubricious Virginia Hill, former moll and bag woman for the murdered gangster Bugsy Siegel. Virginia took one look at Hans and said, "Come right into the bedroom, you handsome hunk of man."
In days of yore, when 30 or 40 new ski areas were built annually and political correctness meant you were a registered voter, SKI Magazine pursued stories of beautiful women as eagerly as a cub reporter covering a four-alarm city-hall fire. We displayed girls on covers, girls' faces on the snow, a winsome Miss America on skis and a series of four-color gatefold spreads, titled Ski Birds. One of the first birds was movie actress Jean Seberg. Another Ski Bird in the foldout series was the slender blond Australian model Jacqueline Pitman, who was soon to become Billy Kidd's first wife. The magazine carried a regular column, "Girls' Rules," written by former movie publicity agent Abby Rand. A short firecracker of a lady, Abby had an answer for every libidinous probleem challenging the magazine's readers. "Beware of the gorgeous guy who leaps over moguls and whose every turn creates a plume of flying snow," Abby advised. "Equally visible are his girlward lunges. If you can't wriggle free, look up into his eyes and ask how he does those perfectly perfect turns. He'll feel obliged to answer and, to do it, he'll need both hands up where you can see them."
As with any endeavor to determine who's the best, the selection of history's sexiest skiers (see page 66) is a challenge. A woman who should have been on the list is Astrid Walti, a dazzling auburn-haired Hollywood stuntwoman and free skier. Or why not let Robert Redford join Alberto Tomba and Jonny Moseley on the list? And is not Tamara McKinney, who once posed in a seductive jet-black cape, as alluring as Suzy "Chapstick" Chaffee?
To non-skiers, it doesn't matter. Skiing is a risky sport performed at high speed in exotic high places. To the uninitiated, we all appear sexy. In what other public space, after all, can you wear knee-high, orange plastic boots, dress up like a circus clown with a tasseled hat, and still be admired for it?
More sex next month: Columnist Fry will tell about the man who was the women's world champion of downhill skiing. Fry can be reached at email@example.com.