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Tuna fisherman’s sculpture sinks

Compiled by Allen R. Smith

During the 1970s, I taught skiing for a small resort in southern California. Despite having only three older chairlifts, it was one of the most popular ski areas within easy driving distance from Los Angeles. The main lift departed from the day lodge at the base of the mountain and proceeded up to a mid-mountain unloading station. At the halfway point, skiers had their choice of either exiting the chair for a short run to the bottom or continuing up to the top where they could enjoy any number of longer runs. In either case, it was not uncommon for a few skiers who failed to pay attention, to accidentally hook their tips on the unloading ramp and tumble out of the chairs to the slopes below.So, management instructed the lift department to install an 8-foot-by-8-foot cargo net in front of the unloading ramp to prevent confused skiers from falling to their demise. Sometimes it worked; sometimes it didn’t. On any given day, the lift operator working the mid-station could count on rescuing several unfortunate souls from the cargo net. As time went on, the search continued for ways to keep skiers from hooking their tips on the ramp.One particularly creative lift operator thought he had the solution. On his day off, he went to the lost and found and collected all of the old, damaged skis that he could find.Using a hacksaw, nuts, bolts and duct tape, he created an elaborate sculpture made of old ski tips and installed it 15 yards downhill of the unloading station. Beneath the artwork, he put up a large sign that warned, “KEEP YOUR TIPS UP!”There was only one problem. Skiers approaching the unloading station became enthralled with the artwork. So much, that as they passed over it, straining to get a better glimpse, they allowed their tips to sag down and catch on the edge of the cargo net.Boom! Out they’d go, into the net. By the end of the first day, the lift operator said he felt more like a tuna fisherman than a lift operator.The next day, in spite of rave reviews from art critics, the sculpture was gone.- Allen R. Smith, VailVail, ColoradoVail, Colorado


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