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JML - _Chicago_ 1 .JPG
Joe Leiper - Stu in Sam Shepard's "Chicago." Taft School, May 1976

  Please allow me to explain myself

    Suburban New York, where I grew up, is not an alpine ski racing hotbed. NASTAR is offered at many regional areas, especially in New England; I just skied. (For better and for worse, organized activity isn’t my forte. And I’m not particularly competitive. Understanding this explains…never mind.) 

    Watching ski racing on TV, however, was great. The athletes’ supreme skill and bravado was so engaging. Urging on whomever I favored, squirming as the tenths clicked off. I was on tenterhooks, like hoping Bernadette Celentano would ask me to dance, and fleeing terrified when she did.

 

    Ski racing was something I understood insofar as I knew/sensed its physical demands, which seemed unapproachable. I also understood that the competitors are nuts—at least the Downhill folks. (I was a fairly twisted kid but realized skiing 80mph is abnormal.) Problem: except for the Olympics, and occasionally men’s World Cup downhills on Wide World of Sports, there were no televised ski races on American networks. Then, they were truncated to show the top competitors. Even the Olympics’ broadcasts usually offered only bottom halves of theTech events, sometimes just second runs. Very little live, as I recall—mostly edited after the event to display in prime time. (If my memory’s foggy and USA viewers had wider ski racing exposure, please let me know. The Killy Challenge doesn’t count, though even as a tween I envied his panache.) So I saw Barbara Cochran, Bernard Russi, and Franz Klammer triumph. Exciting but fleeting occasions way foreign to Blauvelt. 

    Why is this site about women’s ski racing? Why not men’s ski racing?

    IMO women are more interesting than men.

    I came of age when girls’ high school sports really began to flourish. The NY Times ran a feature article about this, with a photo of my high school’s girls’ soccer team in action against a rival. I’d seen them play, and remember Molly Heminway blasting a long ball past mid-field to an attacking teammate. I had no idea a girl could kick a soccer ball that hard.

 

    Annemarie Moser-Proell. She did well at Sapporo (Silver DH and GS), but via occasional newspaper sports articles and a profile circa 1974 in, I believe, Sports Illustrated, I recognized her as a tremendous athlete. She won five consecutive Overall titles, dominating DH and GS, and was top-10 Slalom. Peerless in an extreme activity whose exertions/demands I knew on a very reduced level, Annemarie ruled the world’s second most dangerous of traditional organized sports. (Motor sport then, as now, was the most consistently hazardous for severe/fatal injury. Yesterday and today, though, I’d bet ski racing has the highest percentage of serious extremity injuries for its competitor base. ACL tears, that’s for sure.) Then she skipped a full season to care for her terminally-ill dad. Returning, she won another Overall and finished second three times, took two more DH globes, and was podium or top-10 in nearly everything else. Moser-Proell’s a mighty archetype.

 

    I have body image issues as do most people. Male ski racers are cut like classical divinities. (Though not Bacchus at his most dissolute.) I’m a dog-chewed shoe compared to them.

 

    During speed events guys are often right on disaster’s edge. That’s optimal for making good time, of course, but I’m afraid I’ll see a gruesome wreck. Seriously. I’ll watch men’s speed events with intergalactic skiing, but I’m nervous the whole time. Women nail the limit and may suffer hideous offs as well. Kajsa Lie’s 2021 crash makes Joe Theismann wince. I guess I find peak women’s skiing more often bold artistry than feral derring-do. Lara Gut-Behrami’s 2021 Garmisch Super G weekend is artistic.

 

    Leaving the florid and back to my first point: women are more intriguing, expressive beings…IMO. So for me a woman ripping a pitch is more exhilarating, and more entertaining, than a man doing it, because the athlete grabs me.

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