The 1970s: The Apogee of Very Interesting Times
Authored by Morten Lund
In the seventh decade of the century, depending on your point of view, either all nirvana broke loose or the nation was undergoing a severe case of overindulgence. The idea that ethics came down from on high had taken a big blow at the resignation of the U.S. president. His replacement, Jerry Ford, was a skier (who made the cover of the Fall 1974 Ski Area Management). Ford represented solid establishment virtue but also represented indulgence, spending considerable time in pursuit of the extended ski vacation, the luxurious ski condo, the good ski life.
The ski magazines reflected the same split. Principally devoted to the classic wax-your-P-tex and polish-your-turn stories, they also registered the wild side from time to time. The November 1971 issue of Ski carried on its cover its first avowed freestyle figure, an “aerial airplane turn” by Tom Spencer. It also carried the strange or funny Bob Cram cartoon (depending on your point of view) as part of his cartoon essay on the International Airlines Week at Alyeska, Alaska. One sketch represented a high water mark of artistic uninhibitedness. Cram’s skiers were still thin, but they were not repressed anymore. Some readers took a negative view. On the other hand, most readers seemed to enjoy the break from the dominant (still) Lutheran-Puritan ethic.
Stranger and weirder was still to come as New Age thinking invaded the sacrosanct precincts of ski instruction. Zen, martial arts and awareness approaches were proposed seriously. Tim Gallwey of The Inner Game of Tennis inspired a series of articles in Ski on the “inner approach.” His Inner Skiing was the biggest best-seller in the sport since Hannes Schneider and Arnold Fanck wrote Das Wunder des Schneeshuhs back in 1925.
There were so many exotic head trips out there that the Professional Ski Instructors of America’s head man, Horst Abraham, came out with his own version, Skiing Right. Ski Area Management’s Spring 1974 Bob Bugg cartoon cover reflected the profusion—or confusion— of choices.
And freestyle became far and away the most exciting ski competition to watch. The 1970s was clearly going down in history as the decade of generational revolt and equally fierce gerontological resistance. -- Morten Lund