Where were you in ’72? I admit I don’t remember spending much time poring over the mostly black and white racing news offered by Ski Canada Journal, as the country’s voice of skiing was called in its early years.
I do remember life in the ruts (seemed like trenches) as a tyke in the Nancy Greene Ski League gates at Hamilton’s Mont St. Chedoke. And I remember Saturday nights in ski country, bouncing on the beds (or if we were lucky, enjoying 25 cents’ worth of electrified bed jiggling) at the DeSoto Motel with my sisters and the kids of my parents’ skiing friends. It was the same bed my dad kept our black ski slacks between the mattresses at night so we’d all be stylin’ in the morning with nice creases down the front. Odd memories of skiing.
Thirty years ago I was pining for a pair of Head 360s and Lange Swingers. This followed the “Dad, can I have a pair of Rossi Stratto 102s with Cubco bindings” whine, but came before the “Dad, can I have a pair of K2 Cheeseburger Deluxe and Burt bindings” plea. (All suggested by the then glossy pages of Ski Canada.)
Although a few of my friends were always given the coolest gear of the year, I don’t remember any being under or on my feet. As the youngest of three, I had hand-me-downs through most of high school. Somehow I survived.
What I’m most appreciative about I suppose was having skiing parents. Even when Dad worked weekends, my stalwart mother would head out into blinding snowstorms in the Country Estate wagon filled with three kids, a couple of latch-ons who had mums not as brave, the dog, the cooler and our gear–usually minus one or two integral pieces. Despite vehicle breakdowns across Ontario, New York and Quebec, winter storms were met with comments like “It’s going to be great skiing tomorrow!” Defensive driving, I guess.
Inevitably, however, the storms would end abruptly a few minutes before we reached the hill. Even though I was there, I have a hard time believing everyone in the country skied all-natural snow back then. Now as I look around, I realize some things haven’t changed much. My oldest is five but wants to spend the day negotiating leafy, rocky trails in the woods rather than gliding on top of a metre of machine-groomed, broad-avenue man-made. Imagine.
I went into my basement magazine archives to look for something in an old issue and ended up several hours later still musing at all the gear gimmicks, fashion, instructional techniques, booze and cigarette ads, and general authoritativeness of my predecessors, one of whom held an O.B.E. (Nice to know the Queen reads Ski Canada.)
But you don’t need to go back to the ’70s to see 30 years of changes in the magazine. Regular readers will have noticed an entirely new look to the book just from last season as soon as they opened their mailbox or pulled it from the newsstand. George, Laurie and the rest of our new Calgary-based team of skier-designers have gone beyond “a little tweaking” to produce a more colourful, dramatic and entertaining magazine starting this anniversary year.
If Ski Canada can’t get you stoked on the sport, even right now, before the snow flies, nothing can.
Iain MacMillan is editor of Ski Canada. This article first appeared in the Buyers Guide 2002 issue.