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Graceful aggression is a specialty with John Schultz, 22, who abandons the regular runs at Vermont's Mad River Glen to go for high-speed slaloms through the thickets of closely set trees. A daring, strong-legged skier, Schultz prefers cutting his own path, because "it's never predictable like the manicured slopes. And besides, you can always stop on the way down to appreciate the perfect silence."
College dropout and resident hippie at Aspen, Jim Biebl sweeps out a restaurant to pay for lift tickets and is now the area's No. 1 exponent of the superjet turn, a lean-back, skis-out, full-speed-ahead maneuver. Free spirit Biebl, 23, says that some buddies learned this stunt on mescaline: "You hear music and when you jump, man, you stay up a long, long time."
A skilled sailor, private pilot and mother of four, wealthy Bostonian Anne Francis is the foremost stylist of Sugarbush, Vt., slicing smoothly through the racing gates at weekend competitions. Such power turns take constant and unrelenting practice. "I've been at this since the '30s," she says, "because my family made me get out there and learn how to ski."
She set out to become a political science major, but Barbara Amick, 27, was sidetracked by the skiing at Sun Valley—where she works as a waitress to support her habit. Now, before admiring onlookers, she charges into her own special thing: bursting down the mountain with lovely, ladylike parallel turns, punctuated with unladylike bursts of explosive speed.
Denver restaurateur Tim Kohl, 24, is the celebrated Whoopee Jumper of Vail, high-bounding off cornices to altitudes some 50 feet off the snow, then racing through the small snow-slides he touches off when he lands. The esoteric thrust behind all this derring-do is simply that "you find that you get bored just skiing down the regular runs, both feet on the snow."
Looking less like a best skier than anyone in this assemblage-he is 53 years old and wears a bit of a potbelly-Aleut Indian Pete Totemoff is nonetheless the premier powder performer of Taos, N.Mex. When all others are banned it is Pete—and Pete alone—who is given rein to run Longhorn Chute, a terrifying mountain notch where avalanches await the unwary.
Only a few people can pull off the forward flip on skis, and certainly the prettiest is Debbie Mead, who is 26 and the pride of Jackson Hole, Wyo., a huge haven of bold experts. Not only is this move tricky, it is hard on the joints. "After six flips in a row I can't walk," she says, "but it is such fun—and I feel like a real daredevil."
Few folks can handle nonstop dashes down Snowbird's No Name Chute: Salt Lake City stockbroker Darm Penney (above) is one, and Gordon Yates (below) is one other. Known at Alta as The Crasher for his spectacular performances, Yates broke his leg warming up for a special appearance in the photograph at left—so instead of two skiers on the slope there is one.
IT'S DOWNHILL FOR THE SUPERSKIER
The boys in the highway department over to Montpelier used to get together and ski weekends then. No lifts in all of Vermont—or anywhere else. That was 1931, I believe. Yes, 1931. We'd climb the mountain for one, two hours, then make a run. Oh, we'd take lots of turns; big, wide turns. Stemming was the big technique then. We'd make that run last as long as we could—like an all-day sucker. When you got down, you knew you'd have to climb back up again. If skiing reverted back to those days, 99.9% of all skiers would quit and never go out in the snow again."