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SKIING IN AMERICA
James Laughlin
December 06, 1954
Skiers and their automobiles crowding against the slopes of Big Bromley Mountain at Manchester, Vt. are a colorful reminder that this week thousands of Americans will try their luck at one of the most thrilling adventures in sport. From the packed trails of the East to the wide-open powder runs of the Pacific ski regions, eager tyros and graceful veterans (next page) will join the greatest armada of enthusiasts in the history of winter sports
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December 06, 1954

Skiing In America

Skiers and their automobiles crowding against the slopes of Big Bromley Mountain at Manchester, Vt. are a colorful reminder that this week thousands of Americans will try their luck at one of the most thrilling adventures in sport. From the packed trails of the East to the wide-open powder runs of the Pacific ski regions, eager tyros and graceful veterans (next page) will join the greatest armada of enthusiasts in the history of winter sports

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SADISM AND PSYCHOLOGY

Actually, the best teachers always try to give a pupil an individual style that suits his particular build and strength, rather than force him into a special mold. The sadists of an earlier day, who kept screaming "Bend-zee-knees!" until the victim fell from sheer exhaustion, are giving way to the canny psychologists like Siggi Engl at Sun Valley or Ernie McCulloch at Mont Tremblant, who charm their pupils into confidence. With safety bindings (see below) now nearing perfection, accidents are decreasing among beginners, and two concentrated weeks or a winter's worth of weekends will make a fair skier of the most awkward beginner.

An even hardier breed than the weekenders are the Sunday skiers, who can get away from the city for only one day. They get up early in the morning, strap their skis to racks on their cartops and set off sometimes on a three-or four-hour trip. Many of the 400,000 skiers in the Middle West go long distances for a day's fun, even when the snow cover is light. In the Rockies and the Far West, however, the breed really flourishes, and early on a winter morning the roads out of Denver, Salt Lake City, Seattle, Portland, San Francisco and Los Angeles are dotted with cars crawling up the long inclines from warm valleys to the snow-shrouded hills.

Last winter the U.S. Forest Service counted 601,115 visitors, nearly all carborne, in the ski areas in Washington and Oregon. All these places in the Northwest, except Mt. Rainier, where nature lovers have prevented the National Park Service from cutting through the woods with an uphill conveyance, have excellent ski lifts servicing long, steep slopes. The most fascinating of these metropolitan snow retreats is Southern California. In an area usually associated with sunshine and bathing suits, skiing has suddenly become the thing to do. More and more Californians are leaving the beach, piling their families into an automobile and heading back into the mountains. In Los Angeles, for example, it is estimated that 40,000 skiers make the two-hour drive from the palm-lined city boulevards to places like Mt. Baldy, where promoters have invested over half a million dollars in one big chair lift to carry skiers up from the highway to the snow, and another lift to service the slopes above snowline at 7,500 feet.

Here again, the statistic-minded Forest Service has made an impressive count?1,750,000 visits made to California ski areas last year, over 90% of them by car, with over 2,000 automobiles at Snow Valley on one average Sunday afternoon.

The one-day-a-week skier really makes sure he gets his money's worth from the lifts and tows. He swings the final turn of his run right into the waiting line of the lift, and grumbles bitterly when the growing crowds make him wait. He is likely to gauge the success of his day by the amount of running he was able to crowd into it. And if he has to pay the price of sore bones on Monday, he still clatters into line for that last precious ride before the lift closes. Indeed, the use of uphill transportation has become something of a mania in this country, and the old-line Scandinavians, who prided themselves on the physique and training that made it possible for them to race 30 miles cross country in four hours, find it a bit soft. Without lifts, however, the general standard of skiing in this country?now thought by many to be higher than the mass average in Europe?would never be what it is.

BONANZA FOR BUILDERS

This past summer has been a bonanza for the lift builders from coast to coast, with well over $2 million going into new facilities. At Aspen a new double chair lift stretches from the head of Spar Gulch to the Sun Deck atop Ajax Mountain. At Alta a new double chair to Germania Pass will open up new runs on Rustler Mountain, and Squaw Valley's range will be extended by a Pomagalski?a type of lift that pulls the skier uphill by a belt attached by wire to the moving cable. A little further south in the Sierras a double chair has been built at Edelweiss Lodge on Highway 50, and in Southern California there are new Pomagalskis at Snow Valley and Green Valley Lake, and a third chair lift at Holiday Hill. In the Pacific Northwest new chair lifts have gone up at Mount Hood Bowl and at Stevens Pass, Snoqualamie and Mount Baker.

In the Middle West, a 1,450-foot T bar has been erected at Rib Mountain in Wisconsin. New England has also seen feverish preparations. Cornelius Starr, the insurance tycoon who angels skiing at Stowe, Vt., has built a 6,400-foot chair lift on Spruce Mountain. Further south, Walter Schoenknecht, not content with his development at Mohawk Mountain in Connecticut, is constructing a monorail chair at Mt. Snow, near Wilmington; and he plans to keep expanding until he has laid out over $3 million and built 10 lifts.

In the Canadian Laurentians, a favored locale for eastern skiers, new T bars will be operating at Mont Gabriel and Chantecler, not far from the lavish development at Mont Tremblant, with its two big lifts and luxury hotels.

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