By: Grant Boyd
My skiing career began in Toronto in the early 1930's when my mother purchased a pair of skis apiece for my older sister and myself. She bought on them on sale in the sporting goods department of the T. Eaton Co., a popular department store where Torontonians bought many of their requirements. Organized and recreational skiing had been going on for centuries in Europe, but immigrants to Canada who wished to continue with their chosen winter sport were obliged to bring their equipment with them when they came.
Our first skis were solid wood, my sisterís hickory (considered the best), and my own were ash which was lighter. To accommodate the toe irons, both pairs had rectangular slots which traversed the breadth of the skis at the balance point. The toe irons were of malleable iron, and were initially flat. The toe irons had slots of their own near the ends to accommodate the toe straps. The toe irons were first inserted into the slots in the skis, and then bent upward to prevent the ski boot from shifting sideways. At the same time they were twisted inward at the leading edge to prevent the boots from moving forward. With the toe straps in place, the front part of the bindings were set for action. To prevent the boots from sliding towards the backs of the skis, there were leather heel straps which were anchored to the sides of the skis up near the toe irons. Grooves cut in the heels of the boots were designed to prevent the heel straps from slipping off the heel when the skier strode forward.
Suitably clothed and equipped, my sister and I set off from our home on the edge of the Don River valley for the groomed slopes of Riverdale Park which straddled the river a bit lower down. There we joined other neighborhood children, who were also trying their hand at this new sport. Our first comeuppance was with the snow conditions which usually involved the heavy, sticking snow one found in a mild, humid climate like Torontoís. Enter ski wax which we had to purchase and learn to apply ourselves. This helped immeasurably, but we still had to learn about the different waxes for different snow conditions. The art of waxing more or less mastered, previous sad scenes of kids wailing with 2"-3" of heavy wet snow stuck to the bottoms of their skis was a thing of the past. Other equipment problems ensued. For example, in the usually damp conditions encountered, it did not take long for the heel straps to become soaked. When this occurred, they stretched and when they stretched they slipped out of the grooves in the boot heels. At this point one either lost a ski altogether, or at least lost control of whatever one was trying to do with the skis. For a small child (which I was at the time), the whole process could be quite frustrating. We skied cross-country from our home to the groomed slopes of Riverdale Park. There were no lifts at the park (lifts hadnít yet appeared in Canada), and one simply climbed the slopes one ultimately wished to descend. A run simply consisted of a schuss straight down whatever one thought one might be capable of descending without incurring major bodily damage. My biggest kick came from watching the bigger boys successfully negotiate the most difficult slopes this way, and then finish off their runs with a graceful telemark turn at the end of it. At that point in my life skiing had to vie for my attention with hockey, bobsledding tobogganing and pleasure skating. Because of the skiing equipment shortcomings, and the lack of knowledge amongst the retailers selling it, Iím afraid skiing was not at the top of my list of favorite winter sports.
All this changed when I got to high school. By the late 1930's, the Toronto Ski Club was making a much bigger impact on the recreational preferences of winter outdoor enthusiasts. By then the club, which was founded in 1924, was doing a much better job both with the facilities it offered its members, and also with the way they publicized them. Members were offered wintertime use of several out-of-town properties including those of the Summit Golf Club near Richmond Hill, a town just north of Toronto. The attraction of Summit was the fact it could be reached by street-car, and was thus an affordable destination for we impoverished high-schoolers. Each year, upon payment of annual dues, the club issued attractive metal pins to its members, so that the legality of the use of club properties could be established and policed. The TSC also issued comprehensive maps to their members of properties like Summit. Just think of how exciting it was for young members to be issued maps portraying such imaginatively named trails as "Alley Oop, Dead Horse Dip, Chien Chaud, Gates Ajar and 999" to name a few. These last two were only tackled by the most daring and expert skiers. Like the others, they were both straight schusses, but they were narrow and heavily treed, so woe betide the skier who lost total control part way down this latter pair. Summit boasted a heated, portable school-like club house close to the street-car line, plus a couple of smaller ones farther into the property . There one could purchase snacks, hot drinks and best of all, meet girls. For someone attending an all-boys high school as I did, this latter was quite an attraction. By mid-1940, World War II had assumed deadly serious proportions, and skiing was far from most peoples minds. The older siblings of many of my high school class mates had joined the armed forces, and were not again seen on the ski slopes until hostilities were over. At that point in 1945 however, skiing took a quantum leap forward. Those of us who were in school during the war were available to the job market, as were the returning veterans. Jobs were generally plentiful for all, as industries switched over their assembly lines from munitions to meet the long pent up demand for civilian goods. Because the war with Japan did not end until late summer 1945, some industries (eg, the automotive industry) were unable to accomplish the switch over until late 1947. Even then their offerings were warmed over versions of prewar models, which by prewar prices looked very expensive. Most people opted to wait for the sleek and glamorous postwar models in store. These were not available until mid-1949. This delay in the resumption of automotive production temporarily spawned a whole new type of ski industry - the ski trains. The rolling stock for these which had earlier been built for the transport of colonists to the prairies had been used for the movement of the armed forces during hostilities. At warís end this equipment was still serviceable, and was readily convertible to this new civilian use. The Toronto Ski Club quickly saw the potential here, and soon were organizing day excursions to some of the nearby ski properties such as Dagmar, Bethany, and Caledon. Collingwood came on stream with these trips shortly afterward. So now we had ski sites that were more challenging and glamorous than Summit. Of course we swarmed the trains to reach these exotic sites, but we needed newer and better ski equipment to navigate these tougher slopes.
Unlike the slower moving auto industry, the lighter ski equipment manufacturing industry was ready. Much new and improved gear was ready for the eager purchasers. The Canadian woodworking industry immediately began to churn out affordable and attractive new skis. Most of these were of maple, and bore names like Harvey Dodds, Chalet, ABC and even CCM. Samples of these may be found in abundance at the Canadian Ski Museum. Ski lifts began to proliferate, and with the increased number of runs per day these afforded the downhill skiers, the wear and tear on downhill equipment mounted up. Enter steel edges and poles. And the bindings improved dramatically at the same time. The old toe irons that were inserted through the middle of the early skis gave place to easily adjustable types that were fitted onto the tops of the skis. The toe straps to hold the boots in place were still threaded through the new irons, but later even these were later replaced by adjustable lugs which secured the soles of the boots to the toe irons. Sole plates which were fastened onto the tops of the skis back of the toe irons to better protect the tops of the skis, and to present a more level mounting surface from the toes to the heels of the boots.
The first improvement to the old leather heel straps consisted of the use of a releaseable spring that fitted into the boot heel groove and whose leading edge was attached to leather straps anchored farther forward on the ski or toe iron. This design of binding worked well if the skis were being used for cross-country purposes because the heel could rise quite easily off the ski as one strode forward on the flat. However for downhill skiing, the freedom of the heel rise was a definite detriment to downhill control. To counteract this shortcoming, a couple of Swiss skiers developed a spring named after one of them (Amstutz). At the top of the spring was a strap that was fastened around the top of the boot. The bottom of the spring was fastened to the top of the skis about 6"- 8" behind the boot heel.
A device called the Superdiagonal which was much more effective at restraining upward boot heel motion was developed right here in Canada. I believe there may be a sample in the CSMís collection. It consisted simply of a stout rubber band about 2" wide and 1/4" thick the upper portion of which bore on the top of the boot at the ankle. It was anchored by a releasable clamp in just about the same position as the bottom end of the Amstutz spring. Unfortunately, by the time this cheap and effective device hit the Canadian market, cable bindings arrived. Their design made devices to limit boot heel motion such as Superdiagonals superfluous. Boot design changed somewhat with the introduction of the cable binding. They became much stiffer and more supportive (for downhill skiing and turning), and now sported two sets of heel grooves. One set was for cross-country use and was almost parallel to the bottom plane of the heel. The other groove was angled much more sharply downward as you moved toward the front of the heel (whish was now much thicker). The cable itself was threaded through sets of lugs attached to the sides of the skis under the boots. For cross-country use only the forward set of lugs attached under the toe irons was used, and the heel spring at the back of the cable was set in the lowest boot heel groove. For downhill use the heel spring was moved to the steeper boot groove, and the cable was engaged with both sets of heel lugs. This lineup of boots, bindings and skis became more or less the postwar standard from about 1945 until well into the 1950's.
Iíve covered the evolution of equipment up to the early postwar period. At this point we see a total separation of cross-country and downhill equipment taking place. This came about around the beginning of the 1950's, because skiers were now buying cars in large numbers. With their cars they could get right to the bottoms of the lifts, and didnít need to ski on the flat to get there.
I have left one item in limbo, and that is the postwar ski trains. One of the major sporting goods stores in Toronto, Margessons, looked beyond the Toronto Ski Club properties towards the more challenging and developed areas, the Laurentians in Quebec. To participate in these excursions, club memberships were unnecessary, simply your ticket covering transportation and accommodation sufficed. The excursions left Union Station in Toronto on Friday nights, and arrived in the Laurentian destination of choice next morning. The overnight partying on these excursions was unbelievable, and indeed some of the partyers never made it to the ski hills. The trains returned overnight Sunday night to Toronto, and it was a bedraggled crew that staggered off the trains Monday morning all gung-ho for the weeks work. The advent of the over-the-weekend ski trains to the Laurentians ushered in a whole new aspect of the sport to the inexperienced and indeed somewhat inept group from Toronto. Up to the start of WW-II, the masses of skiers in Toronto had been constrained by the economics of the Great Depression to skiing in city parks where some cross-country terrain and a few downhill slopes were available. In the late nineteen thirties the Toronto Ski Club worked out an arrangement with the Summit Golf Club whereby some of the golf club property was made available to the Ski Club members. In an earlier article of the CSMís bulletin I have described skiing at Summit, so this need not be repeated here. With the cessation of hostilities, rail service in Canada returned as quickly as possible to some semblance of pre-war normalcy. This meant that in 1946 rail service from Toronto to Owen Sound resumed, and this involved a mid-morning stop at the Craigleath station near Collingwood. Where the skiers coaches were dropped off. Blue Mountain ski pioneer Jozo Weiderís cup overflowed, for now hundreds of ski starved activists showed up each weekend to use Jozoís rope tows plus the "piece de resistance" sleigh tow that ascended the fearsome length of the "Schuss" slope. Apart from the long cross-country trek from Craigleath to the foot of the lifts, all skiing at Collingwood was downhill. Needless to say the abilities of Torontoís downhill skiers improved somewhat given access to these new and more challenging slopes.
In 1946 and more so in 1947 the automobile production lines reconverted from armaments to cars, and more of the skiers switched from train transport to auto. The last winter I skied at Collingwood, I had my own car, and a group of us rented a ski shack from Jozo. All of us had already been greatly impressed by the sophistication of Laurentian skiing through the medium of the Margesson ski trains, and were eager to polish our skiing skills on the more challenging slopes we had been introduced to there. For some of us a "How do you keep them down on the farm after theyíve seen " Paree" sort of syndrome set in, and plans to move from Toronto to Montreal were made by a number of us. In mid 1950 I was presented with a job change opportunity in Montreal and I snapped at like a fish rising to the bait.
Before moving on to the Laurentian portion of my ski career, let me return to an amusing incident that occurred during the "Margesson" ski train days. This took place in the late 1940's on the occasion of my very first trip to Mt. Tremblant. I was with a group of people with whom I had attended U. of T., and like myself, none had experienced Tremblant either. None of us had ever seen a chair-lift before, and it was with trepidation that we gazed on the single chair lift that serviced the south side of the mountain alongside the fearsome Flying Mile trail. After considerable hedging our group decided that having come all this way, we were going to ski the whole mountain. Several of us mounted this new and exotic form of uphill transportation rather clumsily, but in any event we were on our way up. At the top of the Flying Mile we had to get off the chair (again rather clumsily), and after descending a short slope found ourselves at the bottom of a T-bar lift which we were told would take us to the top of the mountain.
When we arrived at the top of the T-bar, we found ourselves in an area leading to a fairly wide choice of heavily wooded trails (most of them narrow), leading we knew not where. A disastrous descent down one of these leading to either broken equipment or bones appeared to be a strong possibility. Then, ever the male chauvinist, I had an inspiration. I had no trouble persuading my fellow bumblers that we should wait until a young lady appeared at the top of the lift, and then to inquire how she proposed to ski down. In no time at all, a well equipped, fashionably dressed girl got off the lift and our master plan went into operation. She said she was planning to go down the Tower Trail which was a snap, and that we should follow her down. Off she went, and our group fell in behind her. I immediately found myself skiing completely out of control and faced with either a forced fall or being wrapped around one of the stout trees that lined the trail. The forced fall went without saying. Several more similar tumbles followed before I reached the bottom of the trail. There stood our guide who laughingly enquired what had taken us all so long. It was only much later that I discovered our guide had been Adele Korte (nee Vogel) who was one of the best "B" level alpine racers extant in the Laurentians at that time, and for many years thereafter. So much for life saving master plans. Interestingly, I got to know Adele and her husband John very well in St. Sauveur after the move to Montreal, and we all enjoyed many a chuckle over my misguided attempt to get from the top to the bottom of Tremblant in one piece. Safely ensconced in Montreal, I was soon made aware that "everybody" who was anybody in the local ski world was a member of a ski "shack", the majority located in St. Sauveur. One of my bachelor apartment mates and a fellow engineering graduate from Toronto promptly rented a nice little place on rue Principal in Sauveur. It was just west beyond the place where the railway tracks (which went on to Morin Heights) crossed the main road, and was just about opposite the bottom of the "as-yet-to-be-developed" Mont Habitant. In typical sophomoric style, we made a sign for the shack dubbing it the "Half Hacienda". Other shacks were called such witty names as the "Last Resort" etc.
As ill luck would have it, the shack lessee who was also my bachelor apartment mate, suffered a most severe leg fracture while skiing in late January that year, and never skied again. The other lessee had become engaged to a girl in Peterborough, and I never saw him again. There I was, the sole occupant of a fully paid up shack in the heart of St. Sauveur. As word of my situation spread, eager volunteers appeared from nowhere to fill the gap. I settled on a fellow worker Bob Evans at Northern Electric (now Nortel) and another mutual friend Al Bishop (later a member of the Redbird Ski Club, and a very good skier, as cabin mates for the rest of that winter. Through these two I became aware of the very flourishing and strong network of Alpine ski racing clubs in the Laurentians, most of them based in Sauveur. Bob was already a member of one of them, a prestigious club called the Nordiks. Though not a racer himself, Bob assisted the club in running those races for which the Laurentian Ski Zone had assigned Nordiks responsibility. His forte was stringing in the "hard-wired" communications lines between the start and finish lines of a race. At that point in time "Walkie-Talkies" and other wireless gear were only a gleam in the eyes of some of us. I happily joined Bob in his race duties for the Nordiks, he on the finish line, me on the start. About mid to late February that year some of my Nordik clubmates noticed that I was skiing a lot more strongly, and they urged me to try out in their racing program. I was most flattered but felt I would probably be over my head. However, nothing ventured, nothing gained, so I enrolled in the racing classes led by Fernand Trottier and his brother, both St Sauveurites and very prominent and successful racers int heir day, and now coaches. My fears of being "over my head" proved well grounded, as I found myself surrounded by groups of young (12 - 14 year old French Canadians) trainees all of whom could ski rings around me. One can still be contending racer at 27 (my age at the time), but to be embarking on a racing career at that age was patently foolish. So ended my very abbreviated racing career.
In addition to a very strong group of male racers (headed by Ski Hall of Famer Bob Gilmour), the Nordiks also had a womenís group of whom National Alpine team member Carolyn Kruger was the most prominent. At the entry level end of this spectrum was a young lady, Edith Preston, whom Bob new well. A few weeks later Bob introduced Edie and me, and the rest is history: we have now been married nearly 53 years, and have five skiing offspring, one of whom (Jamie) was on the National Freestyle team. My wise decision to abort an alpine racing career marked the start of another, that of an alpine racing official and administrator. Preceding me in this role was Bill Tindale, and Bill tended to hand over to me running entities as he went on to seek new fields in skiing to conquer. For example both the racing clubs and the Laurentian Ski Zone itself all required funds with which to carry on their various initiatives. From being a very capable alpine competitor, Bill evolved into a club official and then to a Zone administrator. He was soon very involved with ski movies which were shown every autumn to the aficionados to whet their appetites for the upcoming winterís activities and at the same time to raise needed funds. A New Englander, John Jay was undisputed king of the ski movie exhibitors in the early 1950's. John must have been a remarkable skier to have captured some of the skiing footage he did considering the heavy cameras of the day. When I took over the movies administration from Bill, we were routinely booking Jay into Victoria Hall in Westmount. Always a sell-out, we knew that with Jayís tight schedule a larger hall was required. Adding to the problem, a new and talented movie maker Warren Miller was emerging on the scene. Warren was rapidly gaining in popularity with the Montreal ski crowd both because of his spectacular action shots and also because of his laconic sense of humor. To appeal more to the francophone skiers we switched sites to the University of Montreal which boasted an auditorium of around 2000 capacity, nearly twice the size of the old Victoria Hall. We arranged for two nights with Jay in English followed by a single night in French narrated by a prominent francophone skiing personality. Strangely enough, the Jay evenings were sellouts, but the French night had hall capacity to spare. A quick query of my francophone skiing friends revealed they all preferred hearing Jay in English directly because they were all fluently bilingual. Over the years when Jay was gradually vacating the scene in favor of Miller, I too began to seek new areas of endeavor. This search was soon terminated. It just so happened another skiing friend ,Bob Owens, wished to step down at that time as Secretary -Treasurer of the Quebec Division of the C.A.S.A. (Now the CSA). Included in the Division at the time were the Laurentian Zone, the Quebec Zone, the Eastern Townships area and the Gatineau Zone. After a year or two with the Division, I followed my mentor Bill Tindale onto the National scene, where he was making a name for himself as founder of the National Ski Team concept. Bill wanted to move on to the international scene (the Olympics and F.I.S.), and so had passed on his role of Chairman of the Canadian International Competitions Committee (Alpine) to his western friend Newt Robinson for 1960-61. Pressure from his employer forced Newt to relinquish the role after one year, and at Billís urging I stepped up to take Newtís place for 1961-62. I too experienced the pressure from my employer that Newt had felt a year earlier, and like Newt, I had to step down after one year. Then, and even more so today, I.C.C. Chairman, Alpine (or its equivalent) is a very demanding job - one that is carried out by a team of professionals rather than a single beleaguered volunteer. Apart from employer pressure, I found my year as I.C.C. Chairman both challenging and enjoyable. I very much wanted to maintain a connection to major Alpine skiing, but had to find one less time consuming.
The solution came when I was offered the position of Technical Chairman, Alpine. Required was an in depth knowledge of the F.I.S. rule book (Alpine) for one of the major duties of the T.C. involved refereeing all the major Alpine races in the east We were not yet fully into the jet age here in Canada, so major western Canadian races were handled by the best qualified locals. Basically I was expected to referee all eastern Canadian races involving the National Alpine team, plus a few other majors such as the Taschereau (a junior race held annually at Tremblant). I happily did this job for two years until informed by my employer I was being transferred to the U.S.A for two years. It was up to me to find a replacement, and I was fortunate to find my fellow engineer Arnold Midgley willing and eager to take the job. It appeared my days in official skiing were at an end, and I can remember Edie saying to me (a bit grimly) "now maybe you will have time for your own kidís skiing". By this time they numbered four. Just before I left for the States, I was approached by Frank Shaugnessy, Jr. re suggestions as to candidates who might aid him in his task as Canadaís Chef de Mission at the Innsbruck Winter Olympics due to start un January 1964. Frank had lost his first choice as Asst. Chef de Mission, ski Hall of Famer Bud Clark to a near fatal stroke suffered a year earlier. Frank hoped right up to the end that Bud would have recovered sufficiently to do the job, but it was not to be. To make a long story short, I ended up with the job. (The 1964 Olympics have been chronicled by me in the CSM newsletter.)
I would like to set down a few thoughts and impressions of the Laurentian Zone scene in the 1950's before concluding this ramble with a rundown on my days in the Gatineau Ski Zone after we returned from the U.S.A. in 1965. When I arrived in Montreal in 1950, I thought I was in ski heaven. All the latest innovations in equipment, clothing and even technique seemed to be originating in Montreal. Our own western areas had not even begun their development, and indeed even the U.S. had only developed a few areas in New England such as Stowe, VT. So Montreal at the time was where it was all at, and St. Sauveur, where I did most of my skiing was the site of some very advanced up-hill transportation. The Alpine racing clubs were in there hey-day and all seemed well in my little ski world. Well, not quite.
During all my skiing years in Toronto, and particularly my last few at Collingwood there had been no hint of racial or religious discrimination. With Jozo Weider at Blue Mountain it was a "come one, come all" kind of approach. By the late forties, Jozo was just beginning to get his head above water financially following the Great Depression, and was by no means fussy about the source of incoming cash. Elite developments like Osler Bluffs were no more than a gleam in the eyes of a few visionaries at the time of my departure for Montreal. I guess I was aware that exclusive clubs like the Granite Club, the Toronto Badminton and Squash Club and the Carleton Clubmdid not admit Jewish members for example, but this kind of discrimination had not yet appeared in Toronto skiing circles. Not so in Montreal of the 1950s. Though none of us would be seen on the Laurentian slopes in anything but our suave Irving slacks, Jackets and accessories, Irving Margolese their creator, could not find overnight accommodation in any of the first-line Laurentian hotels such as the Alpine Inn, Chalet Cochand, the Chantecler and Mont Tremblant to name but a few. Joe Ryan, the founder and creator of Mont Tremblant was a particularly virulent anti-semetic. The more exclusive racing clubs of the day were not so blatantly racist as Joe Ryan, but there were no Jewish members to be found in the ranks of the Redbirds or of their female counterparts, the Penguins. Perhaps this is why Corolyn Kreuger, a National Team member, skied for the female side of the Nordik Ski Club where my wife-to-be Edie also skied. Clearly those bad times are behind us, but the situation was very real at the time.
The all-powerful Alpine ski racing clubs of the day seem to have faded or disappeared over the intervening years, for better or for worse. The individual hill operators seem to have taken 9 their place. This may or may not be a good thing. Originally the various CSA zones had the power to allocate race sites based on the Laurentian Zone Race Rating Form. An article on the development and use of this form authored by me already has appeared in an earlier issue of the CSM bulletin. Today the hill operators appear to have largely taken over this function, and one can only hope they are following FIS protocol in the running of the races.
Another function of the fifties was the annual invasion by Canadians of Mount Washington on the 24th of May weekend (not an American holiday). I have already written an article for our Bulletin on this , and I am delighted to see Frank Abbott has recently done the same. This covers then most of the Laurentian portion of my skiing career, so the scene shifts now to my skiing days in the Gatineau area, when the family came to live in Ottawa in 1965. We quickly found Camp Fortune and the other Gatineau ski areas were a lot closer to Ottawa than the Laurentians were to Montreal. We could be sitting around the breakfast table on a Saturday or Sunday morning and someone would say "lets go skiing today". In little more than half an hour, we would be on the slopes. These were truly the glory days of the Ottawa Ski Club, which was larger than the Toronto Ski Club at the time, and indeed was one of the largest, if not the largest ski club in the world. It was operated for the club by the late John Clifford who went on to become a member of the Canadian Ski Hall of Fame. By the time we had been in Ottawa three or four years all seven of the Boyd family were on the slopes of Fortune. At this time the head of the CSIA ski school at Fortune was John Hanna, an accomplished former alpine competitor. John came up with the very innovative idea of using CSIA trained amateur volunteer instructors to provide free lessons for any of the Ottawa Ski Club members or their children who wanted them. The idea was very popular, and all five of our children were enrolled in the program. This enabled my wife and I to enjoy a couple of hours free skiing on the Skyline side of Fortune, at which point we would go back to the Pee Wee slope to collect our brood. I should point out that the progress made by each lesson recipient was designated by a colored ring of tape affixed to the pole at the end of each lesson. I should also point out that our kids were not all that enthusiastic about being shuffled off to ski classes while their parents were off enjoying Skyline. Then one day everything changed when Andrea, our second eldest, ended up the day with a higher level tape on her pole than her elder sister Cynthia. From then on we never had any trouble getting our group to their classes - the sibling rivalry to see who could get to the highest level of proficiency fastest was intense. I wonder if anyone has thought about reviving the amateur instructor concept? Certainly Edie and I got some very enjoyable free skiing out of the program, and we ended up with five pretty capable skiers.
At this point my own skiing career went into "hold" mode when James, our youngest announced he wanted to stop skiing and get into hockey. He was good enough to graduate very quickly from the "house league" to the competitive ranks. There he stayed for about the next three or four years with me acting as chauffeur and Edie managing the ski activities of our four girls. When James reached thirteen he announced he had had enough of competitive hockey, and wanted to go back to skiing. I could have killed him, because if he had just stayed with the rest of the family, all those pre-dawn practices in smelly local arenas from here to Winchester might have been avoided. Its known as parental succumbing to peer pressure. Our delight with Jamesí reversal from hockey back to skiing was soon blunted with his announcement that he was taking up the "freestyle" discipline of the sport. I well remember looking across the breakfast table one Sunday at Edie shortly after James had dropped his "freestyle" bomb on us (two dedicated "alpine" skiers if ever there were two) and saying "Edie, where did we go wrong with this kid"? One must remember that these were the days when freestylers were called "hot-doggers". It was long before the dearth of international alpine medals was somewhat assuaged by a small flood of international freestyle medals, and the previously unmentionable discipline gained a large measure of respectability. To make a long story shorter, let me just say that Edie and I decided I should support James in his chosen discipline. I started by volunteering to fill the vacancy of technical delegate for the local freestyle group. James was exhibiting considerable promise as a freestyler, and I decided to protect him any way I could from the politics that riddled competitive hockey and indeed the alpine ski competition scene itself. My local freestyle officiating enabled me to do just that. It was not long before I was running the National Capital Freestyle Division. This function had been carried out for several years by Kelly and George Simboli, parents of Chris Simboli (Jamesí mentor it turned out) and a fairly recent addition to Canadaís Ski Hall of Fame. James progressed fairly rapidly from National Capital Division team member to Ontario Elite team member to Canadian National team member. With this progression, my protective role was ended, and like the Simboliís before me who were only too glad to pass the running of the Division on to me, I turned the National Capital Freestyle Division over to Peter Bean. Peter is father of Jeff Bean whose stellar international career as a freestyle aerialist will guarantee his place in Canadian skiing heritage. My role in freestyle is now simply that of a spectator. An unsuccessful hip replacement in 1995 pretty well ended my own alpine skiing days. Following a second operation on the same hip, I was able to ski cross-country on the N.C.C. greenbelt that lies behind both my home and also the Queensway-Carleton Hospital. I had a neat little course out there about a mile and a quarter long that our dog and I loved to go over daily. Unfortunately the ravages of arthritis and loss of balance have forced me to give up even this simple pleasure, and I have to content myself with enviously watching my neighbors enjoying the fresh air on their cross-countries.
I should mention that my two Toronto-based daughters Andrea and Pamela both had very successful careers as freestyle ski judges. Pam rose to become head judge for Ontario before stepping down to raise her family. Andrea went on to a most successful career in international freestyle judging. Now I guess its just a matter of sitting back and watching what the grandchildren do on the slopes. If anything worthwhile develops on that front, this screed may be continued.