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Downhill skiing isn't what it used to be

Appeared in natur 1/2015

Von Autorin Uschi Entenmann

The author’s father, aged 80, weighs a switch from raucous, noisy downhill to cross-country skiing.

As we see the first snowcapped peaks rise behind the Bavarian city of Füssen, my father retells the story of how he acquired his first skis. He walked a few miles to a lumberyard where a cabinetmaker had a sideline in skis and paid for them with a large piece of bacon and a bottle of schnapps. “This was right after the war,” he says. “It was like paying in gold.”

That was dad’s ticket to the Endersbach Ski Club. From then on, nearly every winter weekend was spent in the Black Forest or on the Swabian Alb. There were no ski lifts. Skiers ascended by clamping on sealskins with the nap facing downhill. Walking up sometimes took four hours and was rewarded with a bottle of Trollinger. The descent might take only 15 minutes. “But it was beautiful,” he remembers. “Maybe that’s how cross-country skiing will be …”