A generation of long-haired, pot-smoking, acrobatic hotdoggers sought to liberate skiing from what they perceived to be its long imprisonment. And they sure succeeded. Freestyle infl uenced every aspect of the sport—its language, apparel and gear, particularly ski graphics, sidecuts and lengths. The first national exhibition championship was held in 1971 in Waterville Valley, N.H. Long-forgotten cross-country touring reemerged, as did the telemark turn.
In alpine, speed was the thing: Franz Klammer’s spectacular 1976 Olympic downhill run, Robert Redford’s Downhill Racer, Steve McKinney’s breaking through the 200-kph (124 mph) speed barrier.
Warren Witherell’s How the Racers Ski made the carved turn everyone’s goal. Instructors adopted Tim Gallwey’s Inner Game mental imagery to speed learning.
Winter driving improved when Jeep and Subaru popularized the four-wheeldrive car. Vail and Aspen got a lot closer in driving time from Denver with the opening of the Eisenhower Tunnel, which bypassed 12,000-foot Loveland Pass. Building or expanding ski areas on public land became more difficult after Congress and President Nixon passed the 1970 National Environmental Policy Act, requiring public hearings and environmental impact statements. Colorado voters caused Denver to renege on hosting the 1976 Winter Olympics, which moved to Innsbruck. Vail homeowner Gerald Ford became the fi rst dedicated skier to occupy the White House.
A Vermont jury awarded $1.5 million to a novice skier injured at Stratton, triggering a crisis in ski-area insurance that would infl ate the price of lift tickets in the years to come.