Ski Life Forum: Is Skiing Getting Better?

Fall Line

Paul, you’re too young to remember the good old days. And what you can’t remember, you can’t miss. I understand why you don’t want to relive the Killington chair’s frigid 25-minute ride to the top, but at least they gave you a blanket. If you were cold, you should have taken two.

For myself, I don’t remember the long, cold chair rides or the chunks in my hot chocolate. I do remember my first pair of buckle boots, my first metal skis, my first parallel turn, my first run in shin-deep powder, my first kiss on a double chairlift and the first winter I spent in Sun Valley, Idaho.

Amnesia? I don’t think so. I long for the late Sixties and early Seventies when it meant something to be a skier. I remember the cool aura of the tanned “Big Men On Campus” at Palo Alto High as they described the snow on Squaw’s KT or Heavenly’s Gunbarrel with that expert familiarity. I remember when the homecoming queen and her court lusted after those same BMOCs and when you were judged just as much by the ski you skied¿207-cm, wood-core, fiberglass torsion box Dynamics, Kneissls, Dynastars or Heads¿as the make and model of car you drove.

I matriculated in an era when manufacturers did not insist you chop 15 centimeters off your skis in order to handle the power of the radical sidecut. And if progress is defined as fat skis that help a couple of old gals in fluorescent ski suits to bulldoze my favorite line, then you can keep it. I’ve tested a variety of the modern shapes and lengths, and I still believe short skis suck.

Paul, I wouldn’t recognize a lobster bisque if someone spilled it on my duct-taped ski suit, but I’ll bet the reason you didn’t know what to say was because you were shocked by the price. That also goes for synthetic socks, skis that steer themselves, bindings that talk and quads that catapult you to the top. The fact is, the cost of this “progress” is driving people away in droves.

What I love about skiing now I loved in 1964. I love the joy of skiing deep powder, steep faces, ripe corn and open glades. I love the camaraderie of skiing, the promise of heavy snow storms and the beauty of blue skies and high mountains.

I don’t want to pour sugar into the groomer’s tanks, derail the quads or hack into the snowmaking computers. I just yearn for a return to affordable tickets, chairs that don’t give you wind burn and more than one untracked run on a powder day.