Sport and Culture in the Rockies
Sales Date: October 10, 2004
320 Pages, 6.13 x 9.25 in
- Published: October 2004
- Published: October 2004
Visitors to Colorado’s famous ski resorts embrace alpine adventures, luxurious amenities, and a glamorous nightlife, all against a backdrop of towering mountains and high-drifted snow. Wherever they go in search of fresh powder, one thing is certain: skiing has become a major part of recreational sport and culture and, in the process, dramatically altered America’s social, physical, economic, and imaginative landscapes.
Annie Coleman has written the first cultural history of skiing in the United States, telling how this European sport evolved into an American industry combining recreation, tourism, consumption, and wilderness—along with a solid dose of exhilaration and a dash of celebrity. She reveals how the meaning of skiing changed over the twentieth century, how sport and leisure in America came to be about status and style as much as about physical activity, and how modern consumer culture merged the mythic West with real western places.
Coleman traces skiing from its Norse roots and Alpine influences through the utility of ski travel in the winter Rockies to the rise of Colorado resorts. Much more than a history of the sport, her work explains how the recreation industry sold the experience of skiing and created mythic mountain landscapes with real problems—and a ski culture that exalts celebrity and status over the physical act of skiing.
Along the way, Coleman looks at bums, bunnies, betties, and everyone else who uses the sport to define who they are and how they fit in. Today’s skiers are more diverse than they were half a century ago (though chances are they’re wealthier), and even snowboarders have joined the very culture they once opposed—reviving places like Aspen through a subversive youth culture gone mainstream.
The allure of white powder at high altitudes, manicured ski runs designed to frame picture-perfect views, the illusion of danger—the American skiing experience is all of this and more. Extensively researched and engagingly written, Ski Style puts readers on the slopes—and in the lodges—to show what it’s really all about.
"Coleman’s examination of the history of western skiing and its evolution from a method of transportation to a vast industry supporting a significant portion of the region’s economy is both important and a good read. The story of skiing operates as a perfect example of something we perceive as frivolous turning out to be deeply emblematic of modern American culture."—Western Historical Quarterly
"Coleman, a graceful writer, breaks a fresh trail through deep powder snow with this history and analysis of the ski culture."—Journal of American History
"An imaginative and lively history of skiing in the Rocky Mountains. . . . This book connects the story of skiing in Colorado to the larger issues of the twentieth century: the expansion of the West, the development of a leisure economy, the importance of consumerism, the construction of identity (both personal and regional), the growth of a mass media, the cult of celebrity, and the role of youth culture. At the same time it is rich in detail, full of the kinds of specifics that recreate for the reader the ski towns and the people who lived there. Coleman has mined a wide range of sources—business archives, local historical societies, mass-market publications—and weaves them together in a well-written and illuminating narrative. This is a book that students, scholars, and skiers will all find important and instructive."—American Historical Review
"Coleman has written more than a traditional history of the sport. This is the first book to seriously delve into skiing’s collective beliefs, internal norms, and the underlying practices of the hobby. . . . Coleman is interested in who skis, why they do it, and how they perceive themselves. Her approach combines the methods of anthropology, museum studies, sociology, and history, and the book’s sources include ski brochures, interviews, artifacts, old photos, and back issues of Ski Magazine. It’s an avalanche of information, but the material is always well presented and meaningful."—DCSKI
“Like a good ski run, Ski Style offers sensory pleasure and variety of terrain. Filled with insights, Coleman’s book should appeal to ski bums and snow bunnies, and to historians of sport, tourism, the west, race, and gender.”—Bernard Mergen, author of Snow in America
“A perceptive examination of skiing’s influence on American culture and of culture on the sport.”—John Fry, President, International Skiing History Association
“An original and important book presented with both skill and flare.”—Peggy Shaffer, author of See America First
“Essential reading.”—E. John B. Allen, author of From Skisport to Skiing
List of Illustrations
Skiing Aspen Mountain
1. Snowshoe Itinerants and Flying Noresemen: Early Skiing in Colorado
2. The Romance of Downhill: Alpine Skiing and Resort Culture in the United States
3. A Shack and a Rope Tow: Colorado Skiing through World War II
4. Call of the Mild: The New Ski Industry and Its Landscapes
5. The White West: Ski Town Image, Tourism, and Community
6. Shredding Aspen: Resort Culture and Its Critics
Skiing at the Beach