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Lethbridge Herald Newspaper Archives

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Lethbridge Herald, The (Newspaper) - January 8, 1972, Lethbridge, Alberta Mvnfay, Jdninry I, THI UTHMIDOI HMAID It Ski-About (or how to appreciate an apres-ski party) Starr-crossed Ron alias Super Skier Ron learns to ski So, you want to learn to ski Photos by Larry Bennett Skiing is... By RON CALDWELL Staff Skier I held my fate In my hands, my heart in my throat and my knees together last week- end, all in the name of sport, or more precisely, to leara bow to sH. 1 vent to the slopes of Sun- chine Village Ski Resort in in the Rocky Mountains, strangely enough, with vivid memories of a, word associa- tion game t had played many years ago, foremost in my mind. Someone said "ski." My Im- mediate response was "doc- tor." That was my impres- sion of skiing. It seemed every skier I ever knew, at one time or another, was hobbling around on a cast encased foot, a grim reminder of fun on the slopes. Upon arriving at Sunshine, I was told that accidents usu- ally happen to skiers who haven't had the benefit of pro- fessional instruction and top- brand equipment. I immediately signed up for professional instruction and top-brand equipment I was also toid that it takes a bit of courage to try skiing. I immediately had a glass courage. My wife, Starr, who also wanted to find out whether there was more to skiing than broken legs and hot buttered rum, had a glass of milk. She is more courageous. But she also signed up for professional instruction and top-brand equipment. She's not much more cour- ageous. After getting our equip- ment, we took to the slopes. Actually, it could be better described as an incline but, to me, it was a mountain. After an hour of excellent Instruction, I learned one of the basic fundamentals of the sport how to keep one ski off the other. One thing I noticed Immedi- ately about our instructor Is that he sported a bushy, han- dlebar moustache. I concluded that he felt it was useful ID hiding the grimaces of frus- tration so as not to discour- age his students. The moustache got quite I workout during our lessons. Another hour of walking sideways and turning around, and we were ready to try our first real slope. As I rode up the tow, I con- sidered several things. The main thought, however, was how I could get back down to the bottom without resort- ing to skiing. Before I could decide on an evasive course of action, I was at the top of the hill. I faced my moment of truth. I faced my first mountain. I faced (could I have a drum roll the Mighty Mite. Before hurtling downward, I went over the professional instructor's advice. "Keep your ankles bent, keep your knees bent and lean he had said. "And now try to ski in that I had countered. Thinking I knew better, I was determined to keep my legs straight and lean back- wards. After all, I've watched a lot of skiing on television, no I should know bow it's done. Two rolls, a tumble and a belly flop later, I decided to try it his way. It worked. In no time, I had bested the infamous Mighty Mite. At this point, confidence overwhelmed me. I was ready for bigger things. The Mighty Mite was no longer the ultimate challenge it had been only hours before. Then I tackled the "accom- plished beginners' slope. It too was mastered. Noth- ing could beat me now. I asked to go to the top of the highest peak in the resort. "I'm ready, I can do I chortled with over confi- dence. "STou can't do retorted my Instructor with an honest assessment. We compromised. I went half-way up the big- gest slope. I reached the bottom, in- tact, without falling. In only two days, I had learned to ski. My wife also learned to ski, although she will be the sec- ond to admit I am a more accomplished skier. I will be the first to admit It. In all fairness, I must tip my touque to Bill Smith, our moustachioed instructor, with- out whose guidance I would not be contemplating the 1976 Olympics. That's how safety bindings work The T-bar tug "Are you sure I cant go back to the By LARRT BENNETT Staff Writer When a neolithic Norse- man first strapped a pair of mammoth tueks to his feet and slid down a snow-covered slope while attempting to re- main standing, a sport was born. With the continuing equip- ment improvements and com- petition between countries, the sport was soon a major interest in Austria, where more easily controlled barrel staves were substituted for the cumbersome and out- dated tusks. I n v e n tive Scandinavians soon found long boards with curved ends were ideal substi- tutes for die hard-to-control barrel staves. Leather straps attached to the sides of the long boards casually named skis be- cause they didn't look like anything else held the foot loosely in place. Early Scandinavian sWs were more than seven feet long and were usually hand- carved. Turning was accom- plished by dragging a long pole in the snow, on the side of the direction the skier wanted to turn. INCREASED INTEREST As interest and enthusiasm in the sport grew, many im- provements and modifica- tions in the equipment were made. The leather Uiongs used to bind the foot to the ski'be- came known as bindings. The thongs were replaced by me- tal fittings on either side of the ski, which when used with special boots kept the foot snuggly in place. A front lever-like latch and a long spring or wire cable which ran on either side of the ski, through guides on its ode, was used to hold the heel of the boot somewhat in place even when the skier fell. Because the cable and two metal side-piece bindings would not release, even in the most tin-nerving falls, several injuries resulted. It was said the binding held like a trap and it became known as a "bear-trap bind- ing." As the bindings changed, the skis became shorter so they could be more easily controlled, and conveniently stored in normal-sized closets when not in use. The long, single, wooden pole used for balance and steering was replaced with a liglit slick by a Japanese manufacturer who had cor- nered the market on bamboo. NEW STYLE The accepted sU tcclmique changed and it became fash- ionable to use two short bam- boo ski poles, ratlicr than one long one. The new technique evolved to what was called the "alberg style." The "albcrg style" was the first to be used at a new so- cial phenomenon called a ski resort. Skiing and ski resorts bcciutiu especially popular in llio western North American Rocky Mountains. Next, such notable spas of winter fun ns Sun Valley in Idaho and Sunshine Village in Banff wero developed, In about 1935. Tho accepted albcrg tech- nique depended on an easily- lifted heel iod a tot of bending {or turning power. The ski technique dictated the fashions a lot of easy motion was required and the clothes had to be very baggy, and therefore not very attrac- tive. RESORT SKIERS What-the early social sHer may have lacked In clothing fashion and equipment, more than up for In sheer stamina. The original resort skier was not pampered with such niceties as rope tows, pama lifts, T-bars and chairlifts their only means of convey- ance up the hill was walking. As all of the ornate and sophisticated ski-lifts and tows became commercially marketable, there was a ire- mendous upsurge in the crea- tion of many small ski areas. But unpredictable weather conditions and patrons made the small area an uncertain business investment, while the larger corporate-backed areas grew. Ski-lifts and tows made the sport a lot less tiring than It had been in the past, and the skiing public began to de- mand luxury, ease and con- venience. MODERNIZATION Skiing equipment became much more sophisticated. Skis began to be manufac- tured of metal, metal-and- wood, fibre-glass and fibre- glass-and-wood. The skiing technique began to change almost yearly, and to stress simplicity and eco- nomy of movement rather than stamina and power. The new technique required a minimum of lilt in the heel, and new bindings were de- veloped. People began to fear In- juries, so bindings were de- signed to release when the ekier fell. Being a good skier came to mean more Ihon just having the coordination, stamina and ability to perform the proper technique. One had to have the best and the right kind of equipment. SKI BUMS The desire for prestige created what could be called a sub-culture of ski-bums. A ski-bum was a person who lived for only skiing, and worked as little as possible to achieve his ends. Being a ski-bum was fashionable during the 1960s, but ski areas soon began to realize too many of these free-loader skiers might drive away paying custom- ers, and the life-style since sharply decreased. Although not an Inexpen- sive sport, skiiing offers an activity in which the whole family can participate. HOW TO START A good, adult beginner's ski package may be purchased for less than including moderately good skis, boots, good safety bindings and ski poles. Children's beginner's pack- ages mfly be purchased for considerably less. The most important Horns for a now skier to buy are good boots and good safety bindings, which have been properly mounted and adjust- ed to release for their weight If they fall. ;