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To The Editor:
What a pleasure to see John Williams' photograph of J5 skier Lydia Riddell skiing in classic form on the cover of The Valley Reporter of January 26. I was fortunate to be a Stein Eriksen ski school instructor at the exclusive "Mascara Mountain" in 1962, continuing to teach for Sugarbush for another 10 years. King Features syndicated the column I designed, titled "Stein Eriksen Ski Tips," appearing in 45 newspapers across the country.
After Stein vacated, lured by the more lofty and lucrative Colorado peaks, Austrian ski racer Sigi Grottendorfer became director of the Sugarbush Ski School. One day, he announced to our teaching team the PSIA style change we must adopt -- from classic to squat -- "...since the average American is not athletic enough to keep his feet together...." Rather than change, I retired with disgust. The new style, with attendant shorter and fatter skis, may be easier for "the average American," but so is a tricycle easier than a bicycle.
The extreme angulation high-edged style of Stein (and of the astounding Austrian professionals of the 1960s, like Waitsfield's Rudy Maier) will continue to be respected by every veteran professional who has carved his singular set of curves down precipitous slopes from Alta to Lech.
Like our American educational system encouraging trophies for everyone to not offend the physically inadequate, the PSIA has dumbed down our beautiful sport, to put more public money into the fat pockets of the sport's greedy corporate executives.
With Stein Eriksen and the instructors trained by him, with the incredibly fast feet of Fayston's Sugarbush Valley ski instructor, Easty Long, the graceful sport of skiing reached its exalted apogee.
My sage prediction, now that I have passed the age of 80, is that one day the classic angulated form, feet together with skis that are shorter than those of the 60s but longer than today's squat-enabled paddles, will return.
Skoal... Ein Prosit, and bravo, Lydia...Go, girl...go!