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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Trivia 2018 Week 8

How did Squaw Valley’s KT-22 get its name?

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Betsy Snite

On Saturday February 20, 1960 my family was huddled around our black-and-white TV to watch the women’s downhill at the Squaw Valley winter Olympics. I say huddled around because the reception for the CBS channel was pretty bad and made it look like they were skiing in a blizzard. (For the record, it was not snowing in Squaw Valley, just our TV!) As loyal New Hampshire-ites we wanted to watch Penny Pitou, a local skiing star that was a favorite to win.

As the race unfolded, it was the course that became the focus. The “Airplane Turn” near the bottom of the course was taking a toll on the racers. In fact, 14 out of the 41 racers failed to negotiate that turn! Apparently a warm day followed by a cold night had iced the corner more than the racers had seen during their practice runs.

Betsy SnitePenny Pitou did survive the Airplane Turn and ended up with a silver medal. However another United States racer did not fare as well. Betsy Snite from Vermont lost her right ski in the Airplane Turn. The ski cartwheeled, striking her in the helmet hard enough to leave a dent. It stunned Snite and there are pictures of her being unceremoniously dragged off the course by course workers. Obviously in 1960 the attention to possibly injured athletes was a lot different than today!

Six days later Vermonter Betsy Snite would redeem herself with a silver medal in the slalom.

Betsy Snite grew up in Norwich, Vermont. Her father had her on skis when she was only one-and-a-half years old. By age 11 she was winning races usually against the boys. Then in 1955 at age 16 she won the United States slalom champion beating none other than Andrea Mead Lawrence for the title!

All this success led to her being named to the United States Olympic team for the 1956 Olympics. At those Olympics she had a disappointing result in the GS and then tore knee ligaments practicing for the downhill.

In 1958 Betsy Snite and Penny Pitou basically became ski bums in Europe. They had realized that to beat the Europeans you had to learn from the Europeans. So they worked during the week, raced on weekends, and “accumulated European boyfriends.” Betsy found that skiing with the boys “you learn to ski fast or spend a lonesome winter.”

Betsy Snite on the cover of Sports IllustratedAnd it worked. Betsy began to win races on the European circuit including the prestigious Arlberg Kandahar slalom in both 1958 and 1959. In the build up to the 1960 Olympics, Betsy Snite and Penny Pitou were dominant and favorites for Olympic medals. Betsy’s success led to Sports Illustrated naming her “Sportsman of the Year” in 1959.

Betsy Snite was a beautiful woman. Sports Illustrated put Betsy on the cover of its issue before the 1960 Squaw Valley Olympics. Andrea Mead Lawrence said that Betsy was “the best looking woman skier I’ve ever seen.” In the 1959 off season, Betsy was a model for a San Francisco fashion firm. She loved clothes and at one time had a dozen pair of stretch pants. Her time in San Francisco led some to question her training regimen which she herself described as “dating, dancing, and learning to sail and drive a sports car.”

Despite her fall in the downhill, Betsy Snite still had a successful 1960 Olympics finishing fourth in the GS as well as the silver medal in slalom. She would retire from racing at the end of the 1960 season after a final appearance at the American International race in Stowe.

Betsy would stay involved in fashion becoming a rep for Bogner and eventually DuPont. In 1964 she married Mount Mansfield Company marketing manager Bill Riley and settled in Stowe. In 1977 she opened an exclusive skiwear boutique, Betsy Snite Sports, on the Mountain Road here in Stowe.

Betsy Snite Riley died in 1984 from cancer at age 45, way too young. Her ashes were spread on the trails of Mount Mansfield.

Tim Griffin and Norma Stancliffe both identified Betsy Snite as the Vermont silver medalist in slalom. Norma knew Betsy and in fact was present with Bill and Betsy at the Mary Fletcher when Betsy passed away. Norma says that Betsy’s motto was “it’s not over till it’s over and fight to the end.”

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Trivia 2018 Week 7

What Vermont woman won a silver medal in Slalom at the 1960 Squaw Valley Olympics?

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Mel Dalebout’s Daleboot

Mel DaleboutMel Dalebout got hooked on skiing in the late 1940s while he was an engineering student at the University of Utah. He became proficient enough that he raced nationally within the United States.

With the advent of plastic ski boots in the 1960s, Dalebout decided to apply his engineering to advancing ski boots. He first experimented with foam-fit liners. You would put your foot in the liner, foam would be injected into the liner, you’d wait for the foam to firm up, and voila! You had a liner custom fit to your foot! Sounds good, but we’ll come back to that later.

Dalebout also designed a new ski boot to go around his custom fit liners and founded Daleboot in 1969. The first model was made of magnesium, that’s right, magnesium! Bet you didn’t get those too close to the fireplace! The boot also introduced another new concept – the three-piece ski boot.


Daleboot on Display at Inner Bootworks Stowe Vermont

Conventional two-piece ski boots have a shell and a cuff. Three-piece boots have a shell, a cuff, and an external tongue. With the three-piece approach, the cuff and shell don’t have to overlap making them easier to get into. Plus the external tongue provided more uniform pressure when the boot was buckled. Typically three-piece boots only need two or three buckles to secure them to your foot.

Bill Kornrumpf took time out from staying warm last week to answer the trivia question. He knew Daleboot was first with the foam-fit liners. He went on to say “sometimes the boot fitter actually got it right. Sometimes they were really overfilled and were painful.”

When the foam-fit craze really took off in the early 1970s, I had a friend who tried the process. Much like Bill indicated, my friend didn’t make it through a whole day of skiing due to the pain. He actually went through the process twice before returning to conventional liners.

One smart thing Mel Dalebout did was to patent the foam-fit concept. When European ski boot makers infringed on his patent, he sued and the resulting settlement funded Daleboot getting into the plastic ski boot business!

Daleboot is still in the ski boot business located in Salt Lake City. They still use the three-piece structure, but they don’t use foam-fit liners. However they do use “heat fit” liners. I assume you heat the liner up, put your foot in it and let it cool. They advertise that you can repeat that process if your feet change.

Mel Dalebout sold his company in 2007 and passed away in March of last year at age 86.

Unlike rear-entry boots, three-piece ski boots are still available. Dalbello and Full Tilt provide three-piece models in addition to Daleboot. They are popular with freestylers and some extreme skiers.

Advocates highlight the ease of getting in and out versus conventional two-piece boots, but the main reason cited is the added forward flex that the design offers. While racers want a stiff forward flex, mogul skiers, park skiers, and skiers who regularly ski on gnarly surfaces appreciate a little more forgiveness.

Raichle FlexonsThe most popular three-piece was the Raichle Flexon which was actually popular with both racers and freeskiers. American Bill Johnson won downhill gold at the 1984 Olympics in a pair of Flexons. The boot first came on the scene for the 1980-81 ski season and quickly grew in popularity to the point where Raichle had difficulty keeping up with the demand.

As the company changed ownership in the 1990s it ran into financial difficulties. By 2001 the Flexon was gone. But much like the Salomon rear-entry boots, the fans of the Flexon turned to eBay to repair or replace their Flexons.

K2 acquired the Flexon molds in 2004 and now uses them in their Full Tilt ski boot line. Bill Kornrumpf used to ski in the Raichle Flexons, but now swears by his Full Tilt three-piece boots!

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