I’m sort of an irregular skier, but I’m fascinated by how the sport has evolved and how different it is in different parts of the country. Today I just finished skiing my second day at Mont Tremblant in Quebec, where just about everyone is friendly and kind.
Nearly every single skier here was wearing a helmet, the big line for the gondola was like a sea of black shells. I notice too that all of the helmet wearers also provide advertising space for their goggle makers–why do all skiers offer all of this real estate for free? Between the giant logos embroidered on the front of the jackets and the glaring “BOLLE” or “SMITH” logos, you’d think we’re all getting ready for a NASCAR race.
I have many fond memories that go back forty years to when people used long black Head skis with little etched personalized names up on the top. We used to go to ski school and learn the stem christie, which I am told is no longer taught on the slopes. Today’s parabolic skis are very wide and the lessons teach feet a foot apart, and no one knows what a wadlyn is. I had no luck looking up this word, which you might call a ‘ski twist’ which was perfected by Austrian performer Hansi Hinterseer in the 70s. I used to love watching skiers who could do those quick short turns, but you don’t see that any more.
One thing I learned here is that when you’re confronted with a big lift line, head for the singles line, which if you’re willing to forego riding up with your friends, speeds up the pace and sets you next to three other strangers on the four-person chair lifts. Many of the visitors from England or other European countries who ski at Tremblant always hire a guide, or take lessons. This gives them access to cut the line, using a special quicker entrance, which can save 30 minutes when it’s crowded.
Pierre, who works for the mountain, told me about how aggressive skiers in Europe are while they are in the lift line, how they don’t hesitate to bump into another person and fight hard to get in front. Here, people are relaxed and nobody ever fights in the lift lines.