Day Away

February 6, 2010

Vermont Ski Museum doesn't gloss over long history



A section on the museum's second floor is dedicated to snowboarding. John Burton had a passion for what he called "surfing on snow." In 1977, he fashioned the first equipment in his barn at South Londonberry. The company bearing his name continues as a leader in snowboard manufacturing.

Another corner pays tribute to the Vermont 10th Mountain Division. Outfitted mannequins show off typical clothing and equipment. The list of what goes into a 90-pound rucksack reminded us that even a casual outing for the Army would be quite taxing. White skis added a degree of camouflage.

If you happen to be a neophyte, "From Schussing to Shredding: The Evolution of Ski Technique" offers a needed glossary. Included on the list is one of my own specialties, the stizmark, defined as "butt mark in the snow where you fell."

This is not a place to get lost in statistics, but here's an interesting one. How many "lost" ski areas once dotted the Vermont landscape? A full 103, according to a detailed map.

No comprehensive ski museum would dare overlook fashion. Transitions from cotton and wool to rayon and Spandex, then to polyproylene and micro fibers are well detailed. A glass display case shows off woven ski hats, including triangle-peaked ones that Anabel Moriarty made for her sons in 1956 and became a standard in the field. And don't forget fur-trimmed apres-ski boots.

There's more. The history of ski competition. The Vermont Ski Museum Hall of Fame, featuring hometown hero Billy Kidd. The Catamount Trail, at 300 miles, North America's longest cross-country ski route. (It's interesting to note the idea developed as a master's degree thesis by Steve Bushey at Carleton University.)

Scrapbooks invite in-depth perusal of information on Ski Patrols and offer a sampling of early stereopticon photos of Stowe. One can also sit awhile and watch continuous video footage. There's the excitement of ski jumping, the pleasure of traversing deep powder, and plenty of simple frolicking. Some of the acrobatics simply defy imagination.

If you're skiing anywhere near Stowe, or if you're a non-skier just looking for a refreshing Day Away, take a look at the Vermont Ski Museum. You'll likely leave wanting to create new outdoor winter memories of your own.

E-mail Richard Frost at:

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