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Letters: Creation of Polarfleece, Jim Dandy Ski Club



Editor Seth Masia
Managing Editor Greg Ditrinco
Consulting Editor Cindy Hirschfeld
Art Director Edna Baker

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Seth Masia, Chairman
John Allen, Andy Bigford, John Caldwell, Jeremy Davis, Kirby Gilbert, Paul Hooge, Jeff Leich, Ron LeMaster, Bob Soden, Ingrid Wicken

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Morten Lund, Glenn Parkinson

To preserve skiing history and to increase awareness of the sport’s heritage

ISHA Founder 
Mason Beekley, 1927–2001

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Rick Moulton, Chairman
Seth Masia, President
Wini Jones, Vice President
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Richard Allen, Skip Beitzel, Michael Calderone, Dick Cutler, Ken Hugessen (Canada), David Ingemie, Joe Jay Jalbert, Henri Rivers, Charles Sanders, Christof Thöny (Austria), Ivan Wagner (Switzerland)

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Bimonthly journal and official publication of the International Skiing History Association (ISHA)

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Alf Engen Ski Museum | North American Snowsports Journalists Association | Swiss Academic Ski Club


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Letters: Creation of Polarfleece, Jim Dandy Ski Club

To elaborate on “Better Than Wool” (March-April 2021), Polarfleece was an evolutionary product. The first polyester fiber insulations were created in the mid-1960s by compressing nonwoven Dupont Dacron and Celanese Fortrel, used in quilted outerwear. Later, nonquilted jackets used a tougher version made on a needle-punching machine. I made this stuff for the skiwear industry at our Seattle factory beginning in 1975; a competing factory made it in New England.

In 1978, 3M began manufacturing and selling Thinsulate in Asia. That disrupted North American insulation manufacture. U.S. skiwear makers had to compete with China. We needed a new U.S.-made synthetic insulation.

At Malden Mills, where I worked selling synthetic pile fabrics, we knew how to make sweatshirt fleece from cotton-polyester blends. In 1980, I asked Malden to make a blanket fleece fabric using a special Fortrel polyester fiber. This was fleece. It gave us a competitive product to the stuff made in Asia, and allowed skiwear brands to keep their sewing factories here in the U.S.A.

I need to add an environmental note: North American mills operate under strict EPA guidelines. Asian mills often poison their rivers. The more American products you buy, the cleaner the planet.

Doug Hoschek
Seattle, Washington

The Musical Origin of the Jim Dandy Ski Club

I enjoyed reading the article by Charlie Sanders, “A History of Ski Music and Song” (September-October 2021). . . . The nation’s first Black ski club, the Jim Dandy Ski Club, was formed in 1958 in Detroit, Michigan, named after the rhythm and blues song “Jim Dandy,” written by Lincoln Chase and first recorded by American singer LaVern Baker in 1956.

The song was recognized by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and included in Rolling Stone’s Greatest Songs of All Times. The song is about a man named Jim Dandy who rescues women from improbable situations. The lyrics begin with the phrases, “Jim Dandy to the rescue” and “Go, Jim Dandy,” and go on to describe the predicament: “I was sitting on a mountain top, 30,000 feet to drop.”

The ski club, which boasts 300 to 400 members, added to the song, “Jim Dandy does the hockey stop.” Members ski to the beat of the song. I would like to see more articles in the journal that reflect the contributions made by Black skiers, including African Americans, to skiing history. 

Naomi Bryson
Chandler, Arizona

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