It was skiing’s golden age: 10 years so concentrated with innovations it would take a book to describe them all adequately. Bob Smith invented the double-lens ski goggle, which no longer fogged. New snapping brakes on bindings separated skier from windmilling ski. Wood and metal skis were replaced by epoxy and fiberglass. The plastic boot was created. A good skier could now carve most of a turn purely on edge.
The decade opened with fireworks at the 1960 Winter Olympics at Squaw Valley, where for the first time a gold medal was won on nonwood skis and the Games were telecast live across America. Professionals formed their own race-forcash circuit. In 1967, Jean- Claude Killy and Nancy Greene were crowned best in the world in the inaugural season of the World Cup.
Skiers could be rated by NASTAR, the National Standard Race, the equivalent of golf’s handicap rating. The Professional Ski Instructors of America organized, and it promptly found its American ski technique caught up in a swirl of disputes with other teaching methods, such as Walter Foeger’s “Natur Teknik,” French author Georges Joubert’s serpent and avalement, and GLM— the graduated-length method, by which skiers learned by progressing from shorter to longer skis.
A lift ticket in 1965 cost $4.18 ($29.95 in today’s dollars). Skiers were doubling in number every five or six years. The National Ski Areas Association formed. A dozen new resorts opened, including Vail, Breckenridge, Stratton, Steamboat, Park City, Jackson Hole, Crested Butte and Whistler. Snowmass revealed skiing’s future by building a slopeside bed base with condominiums. Heliskiing weeks started in the spectacular Bugaboo range of British Columbia.
Choreographer and dancer Phil Gerard invented ski ballet. The film Ski the Outer Limits, with psychedelic overlays of acrobatic skiing, introduced a novel kind of ski cinematography. And French “skier of the impossible” Sylvain Saudan opened the world’s eyes to a new mountain phenomenon: extreme skiing. —J.F.