SI Vault
Edited by Martin Kane
April 19, 1971
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April 19, 1971


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Too much of the skiing news this season has involved that interminable ruckus over amateurism, so it comes as a refreshing twist to hear of a ski story that does not concern Olympic stains. This one deals with the out-and-out professionals, the International Ski Racers Association, whose members have been schussing along in near-anonymity on limited funds. They have just landed a new contract that will make then circuit more attractive next winter.

The Philip Morris people, who produce such products as Marlboros, Benson & Hedges, Miller beer, Personna razor blades and Clark chewing gum, announced that they have agreed to sponsor pro ski racing since "it seems like a good, logical sport to be involved in," as one executive puts it. Starting next season, Benson & Hedges will back a traveling 12-race "cup" series all its own, the pro counterpart of amateur skiing's World Cup, a promotion they say will pay $350,000. Top pro racers will win, in addition to individual meet money, a grand prize of $25,000, and a new women's professional racing division will be introduced, guaranteeing $10,000 to the top girl. This fund, added to prizes put up by other sponsors, should serve to put the pros on their—forgive the term—feel, and the prospect of making big money at last might even bring some new racers out of the amateur woods. One thing that has been holding the professionals back is the obvious fact that a pro circuit doesn't mean much unless it matches all the best racers like, say, the Killys and Schranzes, both of whom have found the business pretty small potatoes so far.

Lest the image of such a vigorous outdoor sport as skiing seem incompatible with smoking, those connected with the new series assert that the tie-in will be soft-sell and tasteful. And as pro racer Billy Kidd, onetime Olympian, puts it: "It's the greatest thing that has happened so far in pro racing and I'm sure nobody is going to start smoking because of it who didn't intend to anyway."


A University of Nebraska press release reports that the national football champions have 14 of last season's starters returning to the team this fall, six on offense and seven on defense.

The new math?


One of these days the Supreme Court of the U.S. will decide the fate of Muhammad Ali, draft resister and onetime heavy weight champion of the world. The court's decision will determine whether Ali will have a return shot at Joe Frazier next year. He won't be able to light in jail.

Harold J. Spaeth, professor of Political Science at Michigan State University, has put the problem to a computer.

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