File Size: 7865 KB
Print Length: 320 pages
Publisher: University Press of Kansas (October 10, 2004)
Publication Date: April 20, 2016
Coleman possesses all the right qualifications to be one of the sport's "deep" thinkers: she grew up in New Hampshire, competed on the U. S. Freestyle Ski Team, earned a Ph. D. in background from the University of Colorado at Boulder, and now teaches history and American studies at Indiana University-Purdue University in Indianapolis, Indianapolis. As both a "new school" skier and scholar, Coleman has written more than a traditional background of the sport. This is the first book to seriously delve into skiing's collective beliefs, internal norms, and the actual practices of the hobby. So what does that mean? It indicates that Coleman is enthusiastic about who skis, why they are doing it, and how they perceive themselves.
Her approach includes the methods of anthropology, museum studies, sociology, and history, and the book's sources include ski leaflets, interviews, artifacts, old images, and back issues of Ski Magazine. It's an avalanche of information, but the material is obviously well presented and meaningful.
Typically the book commences by searching into the sport's past due 19th and early 20th century roots in The state of colorado, looking at such leaders as skiing mailmen, miners, and Norse ski ladies jumpers. She also discusses the importance of ski clubs in developing the sport. Associations like the Colorado Mountain Membership not only organized skiing trips, but recruited Austrian instructors to train its people the latest European techniques, and helped cut and maintain trails. Surprisingly, the U. S. Army is partly to blame for the sport's growth in America. During World Conflict II, it taught a whole division of troops how to ski, and while this division, the tenth Mountain, hardly used the skis in Italy, it veterans returned home with a life-long appreciation for the sport.
Members of the 10th Mountain Department who visited Alpine skiing centers in Europe also came home with a determination to develop similar resorts in America and transfer the "the multicultural and social image of European resort culture to Colorado. " This pattern continues to the present day at Vail, where visitors can stroll through an substitut Bavarian Village, eat at an authentic Wienerstube, or ride the Vista Bahn the mountain.
But other hotels, notably Steamboat Springs, tried to cultivate a uniquely Traditional western chic in their marketing and advertising. In 1970, the resort hired Olympian Billy Kidd (a native of Vermont) to dress up in a Stetson hat and turn the place to the Wild West. According to the author, "Kidd allowed Steamboat to publicize the ranching past and develop its image as a historic and wild cow town, thereby plugging the resort into a long tradition of Wild Western iconography that tourists identified and welcomed. "
Because Steamboat and Vail's missions to become instant sightseeing attractions illustrate, skiing, for some, is more about style, stage show, and status than nature, physical experience, and sport. To expand from being an esoteric hobby of a few hundred club members to a sport this description now boasts over 57 million skier/snowboarder visits per year, skiing had to become accessible to the masses and also offer activities beyond skiing.
Coleman does an outstanding job of explaining the technologies that made skiing easier for average Americans, you start with the chairlift and ending with shaped skis. She identifies how in the first times of skiing, club people lovingly maintained slopes by boot packing runs, and filling sitzmarks where snowboarders had fallen. As the sport increased in popularity after World War II, people stopped accepting person responsibility for trail maintenance and slopes begun to bump up and become un-skiable for novices. Steve Bradley of Winter Park solved the issue of moguls by creating snow-grooming equipment. Ski Patrol members initially pulled his "Bradley Parker" contraption at the rear of them to smooth compacted snow. Ten years later, Loveland Basin introduced a tidying machine pulled by a snow-cat.
Lifts, as we know, were a critical advancement for the sport, but just as important were Gun safety bindings, plastic boots, and intermediate slopes. Anyone who has skied Vermont knows that the trails developed in the 1930s by skiing clubs and the Civilian Conservation Corps tend to be narrow, steep, and filled with difficult terrain features. These trails proven excellent for the hard club skiers who initially enjoyed them but the masses needed easier terrain. After World War II, therefore, resort developers concentrated nearly all of their efforts on developing artificially contoured, intermediate slopes that avoided steep pitches, chutes, cliffs, and other obstructions. With the backhoe, the grooming machine, the chairlift, and snow gun, skiing resorts tamed landscapes of rock, snow, and glaciers for large numbers of novice skiers. The call of the wild, as Coleman input it, became the "call of the slight. "
With all the advent of skiing for the public came other diversions varying from shopping to restaurants, to warm weather activities such as golf and tennis. Droves of individuals who had little if any interest in skiing commenced coming to skiing resorts to soak up the atmosphere and relax in the serenity of the mountains. They appreciated the amenities these resorts made known and the glamour of the testers who frequented them, particularly the movie stars but also the ski bums. Coleman points out that certain of the things that made skiing so appealing between 1950 and 1980 was that anyone waiting your table generally enjoyed snowboarding as much as both you and probably came from the same socio-economic background. Ski bums gave resorts a campy feel and able to escape visitors the race and class divides they often experienced dealing with service workers in cities.
Regarding course, as the sport continued to grow in the 1990s and more and more labor was required to operate hotels like Vail and Aspen, management had difficulty appealing to enough bums to run all operations. Increasingly, migrant workers who have no interest in skiing perform much of the menial work at resorts while typical "bums" handle more elite jobs such as skiing instructor positions, bar tenders, realtors, etc. Coleman laments the point that the ski industry has done a poor job of attracting minority groups to the sport. For example, while black skiers now spend over 0 mil a year on the sport, ski resorts still rarely display African-American skiers in their brochures.
Coleman's previous chapter addresses some of the current pitfalls of the sport. She elaborates on the environmentalist critique that resorts have over-expanded and damaged sensitive wilderness areas. Interestingly enough, however, she actually is sympathetic towards U. T. Forest Service (USFS) in this debate. While the Forest Service certainly urged the growth of skiing resort development in the years following World War II, since the early 1970s, it has been more of a thorn in the side of the industry than its staunch ally. Resorts must now wait years to secure permits to use Natrual enviroment Service lands for snowboarding and these permits are no longer guaranteed. Significantly, the Forest Service has seen itself more as an arbitrator between the competing interests of skiing resorts, local citizens, sportsman, loggers, and environmental organizations rather than an unwitting ally of any one particular interest group.
Typically the author is neutral about the future of the sport. "Today a place like Aspen can be simultaneously disgusting and appealing, " she writes. Snowboarding has certainly evolved well beyond the sport to add almost all aspects of consumer culture, ranging from shopping to real property ventures. "But we require not lament that Americans care only about image, inch she argues. In the end, it does not take "combination" of sport and style that makes skiing so interesting and appealing.
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