SI Vault
January 06, 1969
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January 06, 1969


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The world of amateur skiing is in ferment, primarily because amateur skiing is big business. Under an experimental Fédération Internationale de Ski rule, an amateur skier can now profit from his sport by capitalizing on his name and reputation via jobs, subsidies, endorsements, signed articles in newspapers and magazines and the like. The result of this experiment will be examined in May at the FIS meeting in Barcelona, at which approval of open skiing may be voted. If it is, the International Olympic Committee, which meets the same month in Warsaw, may have a decision of its own to make: whether or not to throw skiing out of the Olympic Games—though, admittedly, a Winter Olympics without skiing, particularly Alpine skiing, is going to be pretty flat.

The FIS says that regulation of the more liberal rule is up to the individual country. France and Austria, for instance, which subsidize skiing because of its importance to tourism, have no objections to individual skiers receiving direct payments. Other countries, like the U.S., prefer that the money earned by skiing be put into a central fund for the continued support and development of the sport.

The money earned is not inconsiderable. Bob Beattie, ex-U.S. Alpine coach, has worked with Mark McCormack's International Management, Inc., which is the U.S. Ski Association's agent. International Management runs around lining up commercial endorsements and lucrative appearances for the U.S. ski team, like the Dec. 6-7 "races" between France and the U.S., which ABC-TV bought and photographed for a color-television special to be shown late in January. The match had French and U.S. skiers racing mano a mano down parallel courses rather than one after the other on the same course against the clock. Some people argue that this is not ski racing in the accepted sense, but Billy Kidd of the U.S. team said, "The spectators will like it. It will be a good TV show."

The U.S. Ski Association picked up $65,000 for the job, not bad for an amateur, outfit (the French got $10,000 of that, plus expenses). The U.S. ski team operates on an annual budget of $365,000—that breaks down to precisely $1,000 a day—most of which is being raised this year by television and commercial contracts largely obtained through Beattie.

"Things have loosened up in the world of amateurism," Beattie says. "I'm for a realistic approach. Let's take all those advertising dollars."


Perhaps you haven't heard about the goalie who a few weeks back almost became the first of his persuasion in National Hockey League history to score a goal. The New York Rangers' Ed Giacomin was defending against a Montreal power play in the dying seconds of a game when he stopped a shot and moved to clear the puck. He suddenly realized that a clear path lay between him and the empty Montreal goal (the Canadiens, of course, had taken their goalie out of the game for the last-ditch power play). "It was my big chance," Giacomin said. He swung his heavy goalkeeper's stick and more or less shoved the puck up the ice. Slowly, like a determined glacier, the puck made its way from one end of the rink to the other. "Boy, did it go slow," Giacomin said. "I was hoping it would hit a bump. I knew from the time it passed our blue line that it was going to be off."

Unhappily, it was. It sidled past about a. foot to the right side of the cage, thus costing Giacomin a unique place in hockey history.


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