Way We Were: Long skis only, please
Park City Museum
Skiers today are used to sharing the slopes with many types of users such as snowboarders, ski bikers and snowblade skiers, to name just a few. All of these different types of users certainly have an impact on the ski runs and snow conditions. Traditional skiers have not always happily accepted these competing uses.
In the early 1970s, short skis became popular through the graduated length method (GLM) of instruction allowing a beginning skier to progress more rapidly to parallel turns. This technology lead to the advent of ballet and freestyle skiing. With the growing popularity of short skis in use, long skiers (with skis over 200 cm in length) encountered an interesting problem – the moguls (bumps) formed by short skis were difficult and unpleasant to ski on long skis. This, of course, led to a certain amount of controversy.
In 1976, The Park Record reported that as an experiment, Park City Ski Area had decided to limit the Hoist ski run to long skis only. The Hoist is an advanced ski run adjacent to the Thaynes mine and hoist house at what is now Park City Mountain. One Saturday morning in March, a sign appeared at the entrance to the Hoist run that stated “Reserved – long skis only – 190 cm’s and over.” Another sign read “Please – your cooperation will be appreciated.”
Park City became the first resort in the country to reserve a ski run for a specific ski length. Craig Badami, Director of Marketing at the Park City Ski Area at the time, commented that he didn’t have anything against short skis and wanted to keep skiers happy; however, he preferred the long variety. “I don’t like it when (short skis) are used as a crutch. Hopefully, this run could be a step to a more pure GLM and encourage people to continue with the progression towards longer skis.”
The report from the first weekend was that the experiment was a success. Generally, skiers cooperated. For the most part, skiers were carving long, graceful turns on their long skis. Badami concluded that “hopefully, the run will attract more really good skiers for us all to learn from.”
There is no indication how long the experiment continued but it apparently did not carry over to the next season. Ski technology continued to evolve over the years and the controversy disappeared. You can still enjoy the “bumps” on the Hoist today…without regard to the method you are using to get to the bottom of the run. For more information on Park City’s skiing history, visit the Park City Museum at 528 Main St.
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