How Much is a Life Worth?

On the night of February 13, 1885, the whole mountain ran. The papers reported that a mile-long avalanche raced down the mountain above the town of Alta, upturning trees and boulders, producing hurricane-force winds, and burying three-fifths of the diminutive mining town the three men would travel from. In the dead of night, the townspeople struggled to assess the damage. But as the sun rose over the canyon, death and destruction slowly emerged from the darkness.

Why do skiers find the cold so sexy?

Barely clothed women cover ski advertisements. But looking through a collection of old marketing materials, this ad for the Catskills from the early 1950s caught my eye. My first thought: “her butt must be so frostbitten.” In it, the woman sat almost entirely naked. Decked out in high heels, white gloves, and a suggestive fur coat, she perched herself on the edge of a snow bench. Sitting there, pants-less and shirtless, I can only assume she suffered from severe frostbite and hypothermia. But barely clothed women coat ski advertisements. So why did this one catch my eye?

From Bombing to Shredding: The development of metal skis may never have happened without the military-industrial complex

Howard Head was an average-sized man with a shiny bald head and ears that stuck out from his head, as though he were pushing them forward to better hear someone. He was also a famous man. At least, his skis and tennis racquets were famous. But sitting in the Archive Center at the National MuseumContinue reading “From Bombing to Shredding: The development of metal skis may never have happened without the military-industrial complex”

“A mixed blessing”

“the storm that came over the mountains on Saturday night made the last stage of the weekend a bit chaotic.” It disrupted the event, but it also disrupted the result. Wallerson explained hot “the weather was a dominating factor, as the skiers were unable to get the kind of airtime that they wanted for their biggest tricks. That led to a host of wipeouts and subdued runs and kept podium scores lower than normal.”

Making Artificial Snow Natural

In 1968, Ski magazine published a photo essay called “Michigan Winter” by Paul Ryan. Considering the purpose of the essay, his photos were surprisingly sparse of skiers. Instead, Ryan’s camera pulled him towards objects with high contrast. In his eye, dark blacks and browns stood out sharply from the brilliance of fresh sparkling snow. At the same time, the straight lines of trees broke up the otherwise pearly landscape, sectioning off the hill into long and thin sections of white.

Bringing the Artic to Sun Valley

(This article is part of a larger series on Indigenous people and ski resorts.) Resorts are mythical places, and Sun Valley is the origins of this myth making.[1] In the United States, Indigenous people play a central role in building fanciful resorts. By hiring Indigenous people to “play Indian,” American ski resorts used Native peopleContinue reading “Bringing the Artic to Sun Valley”

Indigenizing Ski Resorts

Historian Andrew Denning, studying the rise of Alpine skiing in the European Alps coined the term “Alpine modernity.” Slim wood physically binds skiers to the soft white snow beneath. The diminished friction paradoxically linked the skier to the wild, primitive, and rugged Alpine landscape. At the same time, the lack of friction tied skiers toContinue reading “Indigenizing Ski Resorts”

An Incomplete History of Black Skiers

In 1956, Ebony published an article on Bryce Parks and Floyd Cole. Cole and Parks were Black ski patrollers based out of Denver. And they were likely the first African American patrollers in the nation. The reporter wrote that the two skiers were invited in 1952 to “join the patrol by officials who had notedContinue reading “An Incomplete History of Black Skiers”