Trivia 2018 Week 13

Who was the founder of Fall Line ski waxes?

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Ski Boot Trees

There are two types of skiers in the world: those who put their ski boots on in the parking lot and those that put theirs on in the lodge. However there was a time when there was only one type of skier.

In the era of lace-up leather ski boots, we all put our boots on in the lodge! The process of tightly lacing a ski boot took long enough that it was not something you wanted to do in the cold. This did mean you had to schlep all your equipment to the lodge, but to help carry ski boots everyone had a ski boot tree. The ski boot tree had two purposes in the leather boots days – as mentioned it helped you carry them plus it was used to store the ski boots and keep the soles from curling.

Mark Fore Boot TreeI had a Mark Fore ski boot tree with a green frame, silver clamps, and red rubber on the clamps. I’m sure many Retro-Skiers had these or at least remember seeing them. I’m sure because in the 1960s every ski area I went to, the base lodge floor was littered with them! Indeed, you were lucky if you went home with the same one you brought! Even putting your name on them didn’t guarantee you’d maintain ownership.

In 1965 Ivor Allsop invented a better mousetrap, I mean, ski boot tree. It was made out of plastic and had a spring-loaded mechanism that made it easier to put boots in the tree. He called it the Ski-Boot-In.

Allsop Ski-Boot-In

Allsop Ski-Boot-In Courtesy Sue Dirmaier

Sue Dirmaier not only knew the answer to last week’s trivia, she went immediately to their ski closet and pulled out a yellow Ski-Boot-In! She even sent me a picture.

Sue doesn’t remember when or where they got the Ski-Boot-In and is not sure either she or her husband ever used it. I have a similar story in that someone in the past gave me one and I never used it. If whoever gave me a Ski-Boot-In reads this, I apologize!

Sue’s husband, Greg, does remember using Allsop ski poles with the shock absorbers under the grips and liking them. Allsop had a series of skiing-related inventions: the Boot-In, shock absorbing ski poles, and ski bindings. As I recall their ski bindings featured an upward releasing toe which helped in backward falls. When the younger Allsops took over the company, they moved it into more consumer-electronics-based products. Today they sell printer and laptop stands.

I found a 1969 advertisement for Ski-Boot-In that listed the price at $4.95. I also found some folks on eBay trying to sell them today for $37! I should have saved my old unused Ski-Boot-In!

The advent of plastic buckle ski boots ruined the ski boot tree market and created the two types of skier I mentioned back at the beginning of this column. There are lodge skiers and parking lot skiers and either approach is fine. However the problems arise when a parking lot skier goes skiing with a lodge skier! Something has to give.

I am a parking lot skier and have been for years. The first time I realized the mismatch between parking lot and lodge skiers was 30 years ago when I was a weekend warrior skiing at Sugarbush . My wife and I had met a couple during the summer and they came to visit us that winter for a ski weekend. They were “ski instructors” from a small Pennsylvania area. Maybe I didn’t need to use those quotation marks, but ski instructors at small Pennsylvania ski areas aren’t necessarily the same as ski instructors at Stowe.

My first inkling that things were going to be different skiing with them was the size of their boot bags. My stepson who played high school hockey at that time didn’t use a bag as big! We got to Sugarbush Saturday morning a little after 8:30. They were lodge skiers, but I wasn’t going to change my stripes so I directed them toward the lodge and began putting on my boots. I was a little surprised at how long it took them to get their stuff together so by the time I had my boots on, they hadn’t made it the short distance to the lodge. Suffice it to say I waited quite a while for them to get ready before we made it to the slopes!

I won’t bore you with the rest of the weekend except for one detail. At the end of the second day, after waiting in the lodge for them to take off their boots and re-pack those gear bags, we came out to find that someone had stolen his skis!

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Trivia 2018 Week 12

Who invented the Ski-Boot-In?

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Wet T-Shirt Contests

This week’s topic for my column has been on my list almost since I started writing eight years ago.  Cowardice and perhaps some hint of good taste have kept me from writing about it sooner.

So what prompted me to write it now? Well, a couple weeks back Boston’s KISS 108 FM was at Smuggs and one of their advertised events was a “Frozen T-Shirt Contest.” I guess I’ve been out-of-touch because this was new to me so I had to look it up online.  It involves soaking T-shirts, rolling them up, freezing them, and the contest is to see who can put one on first. In checking videos, there were guys as well as girls competing.

Guys competing? Putting on a T-shirt rather than taking it off? Oh, how times have changed!

The year was 1971. Freestyle skiing was in its infancy. K2 was a new ski company and had hung their hat on freestyle. They assembled an amazing demo team that included Bob Burns, Wayne Wong, and almost every big name in early freestyle. K2 hired ski filmmaker Dick Barrymore to follow the team around the United States and capture the excitement of freestyle. The result of this would be an extremely popular ski movie called “The Performers.”

In January of 1971 the K2 demo team was in Sun Valley and as fortune would have it, it was Airline Week. That was when Sun Valley offered ski-week deals for stewardesses. To capitalize on this, Barrymore organized a “K2 T-Shirt Contest.” The stewardesses would wear K2 T-Shirts, dance to music, and be judged by the K2 demo team.

As it turned out, there was a ringer among the stewardesses who was a professional stripper. She raised the ante in the competition by doing what she did best. The amateurs resorted to soaking their T-shirts to, uh, even the playing field? The wet T-shirt contest was born!

Long-time friend Pat Ostrowski had the correct trivia answer all the way from Saint Augustine, Florida! He remembers seeing “The Performers” and the scene with a wet T-shirt contest.

Spruce Peak Events Manager Dave Hatoff, a former freestyler himself, remembered the Sun Valley tie-in. (I don’t think Dave is planning any T-shirt events at Spruce Peak.)

Back to 1971. Guess where the next stop for the K2 demo team was? That’s right, it was right here in Stowe! Barrymore talked Gar Anderson at the Rusty Nail into hosting the second K2 Wet T-Shirt Contest. The way Barrymore tells the story, word spread around town and not everyone was excited about the prospect. The select board eventually approved it, but there could be no nudity. To enforce that, a deputy sheriff would be there “with express order s to arrest Barrymore” if things got out-of-hand.

Things didn’t get out-of-hand although one contestant “accidently” dropped her T-shirt. Hey, accidents happen! So Barrymore escaped Stowe without a criminal record.

K2 Wet T-Shirt Finals PosterThe wet T-shirt contests followed the K2 demo team on their tour and culminated in the K2 T-Shirt Finals held at the Red Onion in Aspen on March 10, 1971 (see poster.)  In addition to the demo team, the judges even included Stein Eriksen. The event overflowed the Red Onion and Barrymore had to sneak in the back to get in! Playboy was there and would later publish an article that popularized wet T-shirt contests beyond the skiing world. My understanding is that they are still a staple of spring break beach gatherings.

Going back to Smuggs, their T-shirt contests weren’t always frozen. Back in the 1970s before Smuggs earned its reputation as a “family” resort, they used to offer college groups big discounts in early January. I was living in Smugglers Village in January 1976 when a couple of busloads of out-of-state students arrived. Now the resort didn’t really plan a lot of events specifically for these students, but college students are pretty good at creating their own entertainment. And part of that entertainment turned out to be a wet T-shirt contest. Apparently the resort did have some experience with this in the past, since they made sure the event was in the evening at the Madonna base lodge bar, not in the village. The winner came out with her wet T-shirt……in her hand!

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Trivia 2018 Week 11

What ski filmmaker (and it’s not Warren Miller) claims to have organized the first wet t-shirt contest?

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RIP Warren Miller

Warren MillerTiming is everything. I used the same trivia question back in 2012 (Who is known for saying “If you don’t do it this year, you’ll be another year older when you do!”?) and received no answers! But with Warren Miller’s recent death, this time I received plenty of correct answers!

Robert Pandaleon answered “the voice of skiing, Warren Miller!” How true that is. Yes, there are the films, but his voice doing the narration was so unique. You could be blindfolded and recognize that voice anywhere. And then there are the quotes. It was great to see some of the most popular ones on the message boards around the ski area this past week.

Gary Tomlinson responded all the way from Fernie, BC. Bill Kornrumpf of the Schenectady Wintersports Club recalled hearing the quote when the club hosted Warren Miller and his movies in the 1960s. Bill also used the quote as motivation for his cross country bike ride back in 2011!

Chuck Perkins remembers the day he spent skiing with Warren at Vail a few years back. Warren’s style was fast cruising and Chuck was fine with that. They shared stories and Chuck says it was one of his most memorable days of skiing ever.

Saturday on the gondola, Bob Burley shared a story from his younger days. Warren Miller talked Bob and some other young guys skiing at Arapahoe Basin in Colorado to knock off cornices and follow them down the slope. Bob says it took him a little while to determine that Warren didn’t care whether it was safe or not, as long as it made for a good movie!

Warren Miller Ski BumWarren Miller’s life story is pretty well known. He came from a dysfunctional family with an alcoholic father; joined the Navy during WWII when he was 18. After the war he became a ski bum and eventually a ski bum with a camera! Starting in 1950 he produced a major ski film every year until 2004.

Warren Miller was influenced by the ski filmmakers that came before him. He particularly mentioned John Jay who in turn was influenced by Stowe’s own Vic Coty. The self-narration, the humor can be traced back to Vic.

Warren Miller also did a TV series. Capitalizing on Jean Claude Killy’s popularity, Warren produced the “Killy Style” during the 1968-69 season. The weekly show followed Killy to various ski resorts and of course, showed lots of skiing.

Warren MillerIn more recent years tensions arose between Warren Miller and the company that bears his name, Warren Miller Entertainment. In 1988 Warren turned the company over to his son, Kurt, but did maintain some of the artistic control. Since then the company has changed ownership several times and Warren Miller no longer had any control over the company that bears his name, either artistic or financial.

Warren was actually critical of the films that bore his name. “It takes a great deal of time and thought to provide an entertaining film, with rhythm and different features than just extreme skiing.” When Warren lent his voice to a competing filmmaker’s ski movie, Warren Miller Entertainment sued Warren Miller over the use of his name!

I started this column by saying timing is everything and Warren Miller’s career was an example of good timing. He rode the wave of skiing popularity that swept the United States in the 1950s and 60s. Many credit Warren with fueling that growth. 98-year-old Klaus Obermeyer reacted to the news of Warren’s death by saying, “I think he single-handedly made more skiers in America than any other single human being, and he did it by making people smile.”

Warren Miller inspired me to make my own home ski movies. When a group of us started taking yearly ski trips to some interesting destinations, it seemed a natural to film the action. I wasn’t a threat to Warren, but they still provided good memories that helped us get psyched up for the ski season. I should clarify and say that those of us who appeared in the movies really enjoyed watching them. Not everyone who wasn’t in the movies, such as spouses, greeted them with the same enthusiasm. I’ve had them digitized complete with soundtrack and they still bring back some great memories!

I’ll close with one last Warren Miller quote. The correct answer to “how many days did you ski this season?” should always be: “Not enough!”

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Trivia 2018 Week 10

Who is known for saying “If you don’t do it this year, you’ll be another year older when you do!”?

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Supper G and Super Stenmark

So when did the Super G become an FIS event? Lyndall Heyer was the first with the correct answer and then used her impressive connections to research the details associated with the creation of Super G! So Lyndall should get co-author credit for this week’s column.

Ken ReadLyndall contacted Ken Read who won ten World Cup downhills and was part of the “Crazy Canucks.” Ken also was head of Alpine Canada with responsibility for the Canadian Ski Team from 2002-2008. Ken says the first official FIS Super G for men was held December 1982 in Val D’Isere and was won by Peter Muller. The first women’s Super G was in January 1983 at Verbier and was won by Irene Epple with U.S. skier Tamara McKinney in third. The following day the women raced a second Super G and Cindy Nelson of the U.S. won it!

Pete Davis also had the correct answer identifying the Val D’Isere race as the first official FIS Super G.

Tamara McKinneyLyndall reached out to Tamara McKinney concerning the origins of the Super G. Tamara believes it had been the idea of World Cup racer Andreas Wenzel. Tamara remembers racing in an exhibition Super G in Sestriere the season before it became an official event. Since it was an exhibition, she and fellow U.S. Ski Team member Abbi Fisher raced with bathing suits over their speed suits. Maybe that’s where Julia Mancuso got her idea for her outfit on her recent retirement run!

So next Lyndall reached out to Andreas Wenzel – I told you she has impressive connections! Andreas responded: “In these years the giant slaloms were set very narrow and I told Serge Lang (founder of the FIS World Cup) that we need a discipline with longer and wider turns.” Plus there was a perceived need to balance the speed and technical events. With skiing becoming more specialized, speed skiers were at a disadvantage in the overall World Cup results. So with the addition of Super G there would be two speed events and two technical events.

Ingemar StenmarkOne of those reasons for making the overall World Cup more balanced was named Ingemar Stenmark!

Ingemar Stenmark grew up in Tarnaby, Sweden not far from the town’s small ski area. This proximity led to him choosing alpine skiing over Nordic which Swedes are better known for. A good athlete, he became a successful racer at the local level catching the attention of Swedish national team coaches. He made his World Cup debut in 1973 at age 17.

In 1974 at Madonna di Campiglio, Italy, Stenmark won his first World Cup race. It was a slalom and he won it with an amazing second run that moved him up from 22nd place to first! Later, he would say that this race showed him he belonged on the World Cup circuit.

One fortuitous thing that helped shape Stenmark’s success was the naming of Ermano Nogler as the Swedish national team coach. Nogler had been the coach of the successful Italian team with skiers like Gustavo Thoeni and Piero Gros. However Nogler and the Italian team parted company and he landed in Sweden. Nogler preached the value of the pure carved turn as the desired racing form. This required timing and body mechanics to allow the skis to be away from the body. Today all top slalom and GS skiers demonstrate this form with Mikaela Shiffrin probably the best example. But it was new in the 1970s and Stenmark was its best disciple.

Stenmark would win the 1976 overall World Cup at the age of 20. He won it again in 1977, and 1978! Changes in the World Cup scoring for the 1979 season meant that Stenmark didn’t win the overall despite setting the record for 13 World Cup victories that season! That record has since been matched on the men’s side, but not beaten. Only Vreni Schneider has beaten Stenmark’s record with 14 victories in a season.

Stenmark was a slalom and GS specialist who did not race speed events. The scoring change limited how many World Cup points you could accumulate in one event. That gave racers who did race downhill and eventually Super G a better chance against Stenmark.

On the Olympic scene, Stenmark won a bronze at the 1976 Olympics. He then won gold in both the slalom and GS at the Lake Placid 1980 Olympics. Stenmark along with several other big name alpine skiers were banned from the 1984 Olympics for accepting payments that violated the Olympics amateur rules.

Stenmark with Lindsey VonnIn his 16 year World Cup career, Stenmark accumulated a record 86 victories. That’s the record Lindsey Vonn is currently chasing. Since Stenmark had a total of 231 World Cup starts, he won 37% of the races he entered. He achieved podium finishes (top three) in two-thirds of the races he started!

A few years ago Swedes were surveyed to name the top historical moment they had viewed on TV. The number one response was watching Ingemar Stenmark race!

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Trivia 2018 Week 9

When did the Super G become an FIS World Cup event?

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What’s In A Name?

Wayne Poulsen is one of the founders of Squaw Valley Resort. In 1948 before the resort was officially opened, he and his wife Sandy were skiing one of the peaks that would become part of the ski area. Sandy was particularly intimidated by the steepness of the slope. In her own words: “I was scared to death. It was almost vertical. I thought I’d have to stay until spring!” So she traversed the slope did a kick turn, traversed back across the slope, another kick turn – you get the picture.

Sandy’s husband was patiently waiting at the bottom of the slope and counted her kick turns. There were 22 of them! One of Squaw Valley’s most iconic areas got its name: KT-22!

KT-22 Photo By Ed Pearson(Photo Courtesy of Ed Pearson)

Lyndall Heyer and Ed Pearson both knew KT-22 was related to the number of kick turns.

Speaking of kick turns, do they even teach kick turns anymore? They can be very handy. Last winter I was on a narrow traverse at Snowbird with my wife Meg following me and “cliffed out.” I made a kick turn, backtracked on the traverse, and then dropped below the cliff to get to the chute I wanted. I waited for Meg, and waited, and waited. She had apparently had difficulty executing the kick turn. But she used her time wisely, coming up with new terms of endearment for me!

Let’s get back to trail names. We all know that the best trail names are the ones that aren’t on any trail map, but I’m going to stick to those that are on trail maps. It’s much more difficult for a person or persons to sit down and come up with a name that stands the test of time.

I’ll use the Nose Dive as an example. Charlie Lord and Abner Coleman laid out the trail and oversaw its construction. The naming of the trail occurred in a meeting they had with state forester Perry Merrill. Since the trail was right under the feature on Mt. Mansfield referred to as the Nose, they felt the name should involve the word “Nose” and quickly agreed on Nose Dive.

The name has stood the test of time. Even people who have never skied Stowe recognize the name and what it connotes. It’s interesting that probably many of those that recognize the name have no idea that the “Nose” is one of Mt. Mansfield’s features. They just know it must be a challenging ski trail.

So what are some of your favorite trail names? Notice I said trail names and not favorite trails. Here are some my favorite Vermont trail names.

Alligator Alley Trail SignAt Jay Peak there’s Valhalla. On a powder day you know why that’s such a good name! Jay also has its Everglade which is a pretty creative name, but when they put in the Flyer Express lift which cut a swath through the Everglade, they named it Alligator Alley! That’s an even more creative trail name.

Smugglers Notch has the Black Hole. I skied the Black Hole before it was the Black Hole. Gee, that almost sounds like advanced Physics! One day I spent a long time in there searching for a friend’s ski and we were beginning to think it had disappeared into a black hole.

Another of my favorite trail names is Mt. Snow’s Jaws of Death. I guess I should have put that in the past tense since now it appears Mt. Snow has shortened the name to just Jaws. Somehow that’s just not the same. Jaws of Death Trail SignMy first experience with the Jaws of Death was when I was in college and trying to become an expert skier. There was one icy spot on that trail that got me every run! So in my mind the trail’s name was very appropriate.

Obviously names like Jaws of Death are usually reserved for expert trails and beginner trails get much softer names. But I’ve often thought that it would be fun to reverse that logic. Name an expert trail “Bunny Rabbit” and a beginner slope “Death Wish,” for example. That could curb some of the trail-name-dropping that you hear riding up the lift or at apres ski. Not too many folks are likely to brag about their great mogul run on “Teddy Bear!” Conversely, beginners could claim they made it down “Devil’s Staircase” without falling.

By the way, Snowbird has an expert trail called “Fluffy Bunny!”

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