It’s the discount time of the year
The Yellowstone Club called this morning to tell me that it was snowing and it’s only September. It’s definitely time to start thinking of other things besides whatever you like to do between when the snow melts in the spring and when it comes back in the winter.Do you have that same itch I do to finally start doing exercises so when you ski for the first time, your body can stand the same punishment that you were giving it last spring?The end of September is that magic time when the bus tours in New England advertise to get you to stand around and watch the leaves turn yellow or red, the boat yards advertise winter lay-ups and the ski resorts start advertising discount lift tickets. There is a discount if you buy them within 24 hours of when the ad appears and don’t mind only skiing on Tuesday and Thursday afternoon except the last two weeks of December.I’m again anxiously waiting for enough snow to show up, just as I have since 1940, three years after I skied for the first time.A couple of weeks after Labor Day weekend in 1946, I went down in my basement and took my 7-foot-6-inch stiff wood skis down from the rack and started what became an annual process until I bought my first pair of metal skis 10 years later.I had clamped my skis on either side of a straight piece of two-by-four and used a ‘C’ clamp to hold the tip and tail against the two-by-four. I also inserted a small block of wood under the middle of the ski so the camber wouldn’t disappear while I was surfing all summer.The ritual would then continue by laying the skis down on a pair of sawhorses. The lacquer or whatever I had been sold for a base the winter before would be carefully scraped off and the bottoms of my skis would then be sanded as smooth as glass. Then the metal edges would be taped with whatever kind of cheap masking tape I could get in the army surplus store. Then, whatever the latest base lacquer, paint, or magic concoction that the local ski shop was selling that year, would be carefully applied. (No magic plastic was available in 1946).Then I would turn the skis right side up and take the bindings off. The same sanding and scraping process would be used on the tops. Always being very careful not to sand down the ridge tops that supposedly controlled the ability of the ski to work on ice. Of course, the skis didn’t work on ice and ice was the norm rather than powder snow. Once last year’s varnish was sanded off, half a dozen or more coats of new varnish were then put on late at night after doing whatever job I had at the time.In 1946, deluxe, wooden, laminated skis cost as much as $29.95, so they had to be taken good care of in order to last as long as possible. But I wasn’t smart enough to figure out that a pair of those expensive wooden skis would only last for about 30 days of skiing. Then they would start breaking down until they were only good for powder snow. No one skied in powder snow in those days, so most people just complained about how their skis wouldn’t work when it was icy.In 1949, some of the French Olympic team members came to Sun Valley to race in the Harriman Cup and they had offset edges on their skis! This was a concept that none of us had ever seen before. So we immediately started filing away some of the wood along the sides of our skis so the edges would stick out and then we, too, had offset edges. By this time, the season was almost over and we had already used the pair of worn-out skis for three or four months and nothing we could do to them would make them work any better.After all of these years, I still have that late-September itch, except that now I don’t have to spend 15 or 20 evenings working on my skis. I just go to one of the early season sales and pick up whatever I might need for the coming season.Those pre-season ski sales offer as much as 70-percent discount from the suggested retail price, whatever that means, so get out there and buy now, because, “If you don’t buy it in September or October, you’ll be three months older when you do.”
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