We are not makers of history. We are made by history.
-Martin Luther King, Jr.
I recently attended a fascinating skiing history event at the coolest ski shop in the world– Hickory
and Tweed in Armonk, NY. But don’t take my word on this shop’s amazingness. Ski Magazine once
named them the #1 Ski Shop in America! Owner Skip Beitzel (see pic) and his band of merry
snowsports folks played host to the great people from the International Skiing History Association and
a few rogue ski bum writers like myself. Skip and crew had a great spread of pizza, beer and wine on
hand and I was utterly fascinated by the cool items in his shop. The skis next to Skip in this picture belonged
to Spider Sabich the famous pro skier and Olympian. Spider you may recall, depending on your age,
was controversially shot and killed by his girlfriend (she said it was an accident) Claudine Longet back in
1976. Spider’s sticks are just one example of the rare decorations you’ll find at Hickory and Tweed.
However, the best piece in Skip’s place in my opinion is freestyle pioneer Shane McConkey’s original
Spatula ski (pictured) which was far ahead of its time. It’s nice to know Skip is helping to keep McConkey’s
legacy alive nearly ten years after his unfortunate death. If you have not seen the documentary on Shane’s
life titled simply “McConkey”, you really need to do that asap.
But back to the event… Once everyone got settled in the chairs ISHA’s director Jeff Blumenfeld gave
a presentation called Must-Ski TV that traced back the image of skiing portrayed on television throughout the years.
Jeff had some great clips from shows like Here’s Lucy, Charlie’s Angels, Dick Van Dyke and more
that all highlighted one thing– the dangerous aspect of skiing! Jeff’s humorous delivery was thoroughly
enjoyed by all in attendance including Martin Griff (pictured here in the audience holding his camera and
tripod). Martin has been a good friend and a fellow snowsports journalist for way more than the mere 25 years
I’ve been doing this! Click www. skiinghistory.org to learn more about The International Skiing History
Association. Big thanks to them for putting great events on like this which certainly help get everyone psyched
for the upcoming season.
Also there this night was ISHA’s Chairman Jeff Fry who was kind enough to give me a copy of his book:
“The Story of Modern Skiing”. Jeff’s book is a comprehensive, detailed look at exactly how the skiing
experience has developed since its inception. Crude versions of Skiing may have been initially seen in cave
drawings of hunter-gatherers 5,000 year ago but the modern version of our sport has its origins in the
mountains of Europe. Once it caught on in Canada it quickly spread to America and through the early 1900’s
it took on a life all its own. Jeff’s stories about things like early gear and accommodations; ie: wet, leather
boots and small, dimly-lit, cigarette smoke-filled “lodges” illustrate by comparison how easy (albeit costly)
we have it these days. I’m still working my way through Jeff’s book but based on the first 100 pages I can already
highly recommend it!