The White Stuff

My personal history of Colorado skiing stretches back almost fifty years, to the days when my parents would leave their children at home with a babysitter in suburban Chicago, in order to hop first on the Denver Zephyr, then the Yampa Valley Mail, changing their clothes in a railcar filled with milk and mail deliveries, only to emerge in ski togs at the base of Winter Park, ready to shuss the day away. When we kids got old enough, we joined them — and I’ll never forget my first, terrified look down what remains a very steep beginner’s hill. Colorado’s ski history started almost a

century before my personal history begins, back when early settlers adopted the Norse practice as a way to travel through the mountains in the winter. From those utilitarian beginnings, skiing grew into an American industry that combines tourism and recreation, celebrity and solitude, consumption and a true love of the great outdoors. Annie Gilbert Coleman, who grew up skiing in New Hampshire and now lives in the flatlands of Indiana, where she’s a historian at Purdue University, wrote Ski Style, the first cultural history of skiing in the United States. She’ll be at the Colorado History Museum, 1300 Broadway, today to discuss Ski Style: Landscapes and Culture of Colorado Skiing at 1 and 7 p.m. Tickets are $7 for members of the Colorado Historical Society, $8.50 for non-members; to sign up, call 303-866-4686.

And while you’re at the museum, don’t miss Imagine a Great City: Denver at 150, the exhibit that recaps this town’s history — and includes a vintage ski suit worn by former First Lady Dottie Lamm. It’s all downhill from here!
Tue., March 17, 2009

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Patricia Calhoun co-founded Westword in 1977; she’s been the editor ever since. She’s a regular on the weekly CPT12 roundtable Colorado Inside Out, played a real journalist in John Sayles’s Silver City, once interviewed President Bill Clinton while wearing flip-flops, and has been honored with numerous national awards for her columns and feature-writing.
Contact: Patricia Calhoun