Four decades ago, two people changed
my life. The first,Jean Claude Killy, came courtesy of ARC Television, which in 1968 broadcast the Winter Olympics in color for the first time. Seven years old and oblivious to diis fact, I sat tran
BigNews.Biz - Apr 09,2012 - my life. The first,Jean Claude Killy, came courtesy of ARC Television, which in 1968 broadcast the Winter Olympics in color for the first time. Seven years old and oblivious to diis fact, I sat transfixed in front of our black and white Zenith as Killy dashed to three golds in Grenoble, France. Gravity-induced speed, the maj?esty of the Alps, cool racers—I instinc?tively knew that skiing was for me.
The second, Ralph Damiano, was a less likely but more tangible life-changer. Mr. Damiano, as we kids knew him, was Rye, N.Y.'s recreation director. He didn't discover our sport until late in life, and he wasn't a great skier. But like Killy, Ralph had an easy grin and a love of the moun?tains. He also knew die slopes were made for children, so every Saturday he rented enough buses to take scads of suburban kids north to the Catskills or Berksliires.
It was a different America then. Depending on the destination, 10 bucks or so bought you a bus ride, a group lesson and a lift ticket. When I was 9, my par?ents trusted Ralph enough to bundle me up and send me on the bus to the Sterling Forest ski area in Tuxedo, N.Y. It was sleeting when we arrived, but Mr. Dami?ano didn't hesitate, so neidier did we.
It's easy to forget what it's like to be a nevvbie on skis. I lell tliree times just trying to ride die Poma lift. Fortunately, a ski instructor sent his young daughter over to show me the way, and I spent the day chasing her up and down the gentle hill. I went home in a trance, equally enthralled by talking to a girl for a whole day and by a sport that was to define my life.
Skiing with Mr. Damiano quickly taught me a few key life lessons, including die value of hard work and saving money. After all, I needed to get on Mr. Damiano's bus each week. It also taught me about the wheels of for?tune. hi 1972,1 missed out on what was to be the only Rye field trip to Davos, Switzerland. Needing some standard for inclusion, Ralph decreed you had to be an intermediate skier and a teenager to go.Just 12,1 missed the cut. The group got treated to a diree-foot blizzard that my old friends still tell stories about.
The snow gods didn't always smile on the rec trips. There was the bus crash on an icy road on the way to Catamount, N.Y., and the time my best friend lost his ski in a snowy ravine. But like anyone.