I look forward to the coming ski season with apprehension. After my stroke, a couple of years ago, skiing hasn’t been as fun as it used to be. My right side was affected by the stroke and I can’t ski the way I used to. I have memories of my former abilities of ski racing and being the town champion over the age of 35.
I only started skiing over 70 years ago! That was before safety bindings, buckle boots, waterproof GORE-TEX fabrics and ski helmets. All skis were made of wood. No metal or fiberglass. Park City Mountain Resort, Deer Valley and The Canyons didn’t exist as ski resorts and neither did Snowbird and Solitude. Only Alta and Brighton offered ski lifts. There was no such thing as snowmaking or the grooming of ski slopes.
My father and mother taught myself and my two brothers to ski as soon as we could walk and handle winter snow. We learned to ski race at an early age and competed against other kids in the state and region. It was great fun. I learned to ski jump as well and I ultimately competed for the University of Utah in NCAA ski races and jumping.
My mother and father were early ski pioneers who had first skied from Park City to Brighton and then on to Alta in the 1930’s before there were any ski resorts. They would put “seal-skins” on the bottom of their skis to climb over the mountains. I was told by my father that he and my mother had once skied to the top of Lone Peak in the winter. Lone Peak is one of the highest mountains in the Wasatch at 11,253 feet. What an accomplishment!
Dad helped raise money for the first chairlift at Alta which was only the second in the U.S., right behind the first lift in Sun Valley, Idaho. He also helped form the National Ski Patrol in the late 1930’s. During the 2nd World War my dad was a ski instructor at Camp Hale in Colorado teaching the troops of the 10th Mountain Division how to ski.
My father even had a ski shop in the 1940’s and 1950’s called Pete’s Sport Shop in Salt Lake City’s Sugarhouse area. My original partner at Jans told me recently that my dad’s store offered junior ski equipment trade-back. Junior skiers could trade in equipment they had outgrown for new equipment at Pete’s. Here, all along, I thought it was my original idea when we started Jans in 1980.
So it is obvious that skiing is in my blood. I will have to get over my advancing age and get on with it, skiing with my wife, children and grandkids, at least one more year.