Great memories from reading Warren Miller column in Vail Daily |

Great memories from reading Warren Miller column in Vail Daily

Fletcher MacNeill
Vail, CO, Colorado

Reading Warren Miller’s recent piece, “Skier’s luck in Vermont,” brought back a plethora of exciting memories of the beginning of my ski life. I remember attending a Warren Miller “Thrills of Skiing” presentation at the Town Hall in Philadelphia, personally narrated on the stage by Mr. Miller. The date I do not remember, but it must have been in the early 1960s. His developing narrative style was as grippingly entertaining and slyly pointed to the struggles of those innocent beginners as his poignant comments of modern-day extreme skiers are now.

I was 29 when I joined the Buck Ridge Ski Club in Philadlephia, summer of 1957. The club went to Stowe, Vt., at Christmas 1957 for my very first time to ski. Concerned about riding the “T” bar, I hiked up the hill and waited to mimic the ski classes after they had come off the lift.

Going down and up, all day, took its toll on me, so the next day I asked the group to take me with them to Stowe Mountain. There I followed my girlfriend, who was an excellent skier, and mimicked everything she did. I fell many times at first, but I improved my style along the way until there were but few falls. By the end of the week, I think she took me down “The Nose Dive” and “The International.”

The equipment was of the simplest kind, large ring baskets on the poles and front-throw bindings with funny heel grips. The skis were wood with metal edges, and I think one was warped.

Then, we went to Grey Rocks Inn, above Montreal, in February 1958 for a learn-to-ski week. The first day had us in line for class assignment being handled by Real Charet, the director of ski school. He asked “Winnie” where she had skied, and her reply was Stowe and most Vermont mountains, as well as Zurs and Lech. He sent her to one of the top classes. Then he asked where I skied, and the only answer I could give was “with her!”

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The instructor, after watching our first turns, let me stay. Compassion, is it called? The Canadian style was easy for me to adapt to, which had me easily doing linked parallel turns. The final test was the slalom races for each class section. Fortunately, the instructor did set up a practice course for us. The day of the races was full of excitement, and apprehension. It felt like there was glue on my skis, and I thought the finish would never come.

Strangely, everything was fine, and the instructor, with a gleam in his eyes, said I had won the oiscoicoiscoisc dqopuovupodupobposbpob top-class race and presented me with the golden double-eagle pin.

It was a challenge for one to bind their “long thongs” to the skis at the top of the head wall, at Tuckermans Ravine, on that narrow ledge. The real thrill, of course, was to use the toe holes to climb up to the narrow ledge.

Now, it is great to see how the youngsters of today begin to ski and ride early and on such magnificent equipment. I envy their future and the exciting inventions they will create.

Fletcher MacNeill

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