Bil Gilbert's attack on the "nonsport" of skiing (A No-Snow Slope to Nonsport, Feb. 21) was especially cute. It has made all of us southern skiers of the Potomac River basin extremely regretful that we find ourselves so badly disillusioned by the apparently phony resorts in our area. After all, wouldn't skiing be much more enjoyable if the lodge temperature were kept at an invigorating 20�? Shouldn't we picket to have all lifts removed, so that the real thrill of spending hours walking up a mountain to keep warm would not be lost? And, as a final measure, shouldn't we sabotage the snowmaking equipment, so that when we are schussing down Mount Charnita in our overalls and lumber jackets we can be sure we're not being duped by homemade snow?
No. A better idea strikes me. We should sell our ski equipment and go home and wait for the summer, so we can try our luck in the Olympic-size swimming pool. Then another nonwriter can come up with another nonarticle about the nonsport of swimming, because it was different when he was a youth at the old swimming hole, or because there are ladders provided for leaving the pool and the filtering system makes artificial water.
JOHN D. O'CONNOR
Put enough nonarticles together and you get a nonmagazine. The ski industry knows the value of bringing the mountain to Mohammed and enabling residents of densely populated areas to enjoy this most thrilling of sports. At Oregon Ridge we are proud of the fact that our ski school, which is under the direction of Siegfried Gerstung, who comes from the Bavarian Alps, has helped to polish the techniques of many Baltimoreans and Washingtonians who have gone on from Oregon Ridge to Vail, Aspen, New England and Europe.
With his usual clear eye, Bil Gilbert has put his finger on the essence of "outdoor recreation." It is something sought, not for itself, but for the trappings that go along with it—the suntan, the color slides, the ski clothes and the telling-about-it. And herein may lie the key to the Great Society's problem of meeting the increased demand for outdoor recreation. Since it is the illusion we seek, all we need to do is find out how people perceive their outdoor experiences, and then design the outdoors and the trophies to fit their perceptions. Disneylands with mechanical wild animals, a Niagara Falls that can be turned off for remodeling and rehabilitation, artificial snow, hatchery trout, game preserves—all these elements of non-nature can easily be provided in less space and with less expense than the real thing (which may never have existed anyway).
And for those nuts who don't want trophies—the rest of the great outdoors can be left untouched.
FRANCIS T. CHRISTY JR.
Chevy Chase, Md.
EAST VS. WEST
We thoroughly enjoyed Hugh Whall's article on our Congressional Cup races (Legislative Status for a Victory at Sea, Feb. 21). We are amazed, however, that in a few short days with us Hugh could so completely unmask us West Coasters. We smugly assumed that our glee at defeating our talented eastern cousins from the ice-and-snow belt had been successfully hidden behind the posture of gracious hosts. It is entirely possible that when our Congressional Cup champion arrives on the East Coast with Columbia for the 1967 America's Cup races other eastern skippers may feel the impact of Jerry Driscoll's magical underwear.
GEORGE R. ORR JR.
Long Beach, Calif.
It seems a shame to me, an East Coast sailor, that your magazine should have us believe that the feelings of East and West yachtsmen toward each other are those of contempt and jealousy.
I gather from such undocumented phrases as "haughty East," "stuck-up East," and "put-down East" that you would have us believe the East has not earned its right to represent the country in the America's Cup and other international events. I feel I represent many East Coast sailors when I say that our opinion of western sailors is one of high esteem and much respect. If there is any jealousy, it is only of the fine sailing opportunities available in the West all year round.
ELLIOTT B. OLDAK
Port Washington, N.Y.
As this is Sunday, I must be careful of what I say but, having sailed for more than 60 years, possibly I may be entitled to answer Hugh Whall's yarn about East Coast sailing vs. West Coast. New York state alone, with its 8,000 lakes, Lake Ontario and the Atlantic Ocean, has more sailboats than the entire West Coast. And I might add that the East Coast doesn't need the U.S. Congress to back us up. I have sailed from here to the Philippines and, thank God, the waters that I have tumbled into along this coast were warm and didn't have that awful congealed feeling of those that sweep the West.
Let the boys out there get up a boat that can beat one from this away. That is good for the sport, of course, but tell Mr. Whall to travel up to the Thousand Islands, and on a nice summer day he can practically walk across to Canada from deck to deck!