By G.D. Maxwell
Warren Miller is almost as entertaining as a speaker as he used to be when he made the films that continue to bear his name. Anyone who can figure out a way to wrest a living from the thrill of skiing is halfway to heaven on earth.
He spoke last week at the Whistler Chamber of Commerce Spirit Luncheon and was kind enough to spend 45 minutes beforehand shooting the breeze about the sport we all love. I dont know whether he was practising his speech or if the questions helped him decide what to talk about but those of you who were there might have heard some of this before.
Pique: Do you think theres a link between the demise of stretch pants and the declining popularity of skiing?
WM: Absolutely! Theres no doubt about it. I write a weekly newspaper column and I wrote that about three years ago and then sold the same column to Ski Magazine . I got more e-mails from that column than any other Ive ever written.
Most people credit Howard Head, safety bindings, snow grooming and snow making for causing the big bubble in ski popularity. I said, "Youre wrong. Its stretch pants."
Sex sells; I dont care what you say. And in todays world, if you stand in a lift line you cant tell whether somebody weighs 100 or 200 pounds. They all look like a sack of cats on the way to the river. Particularly the women.
I kept getting these e-mails from ladies saying, "Im 45 and I still fit in my 1962 stretch pants. Do you know where I can get a new ones?" I really believe that.
Pique: Why doesnt everyone ski?
WM: There are three reason most people dont ski: price, price and price. If I want to hook you on cocaine, I dont say, "Hey, give me a thousand dollars." I start giving you samples. The ski industry does not give samples.
Why doesnt a place like Whistler-Blackcomb, for example, have an outlet in downtown Vancouver... where itll cost $10 to get boots, bindings, skis, poles and a one day ticket on the beginning chairlift?"
Ive been preaching that concept for 40 years. And so far, nobodys done it.
Pique: Whys the ski industry so dumb?
WM: About five years ago, in a six day period, I was at Sun Valley, Aspen and Vail. As it turned out, I had lunch with the president of each place and I told them the same story. All three of them told me exactly the same thing. "If we did that, everybody else would."
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