After 7o Years Of Chronicling The Sport, The Venerable Publication Closes.

The rumors are true.  SKIING Magazine, like so many other classic magazines, has finally closed down after nearly 70 years of publishing.  This is especially sad for me because I worked for SKIING in the early 1970s as a junior editor.  It was there I found myself catapulted into the whole ecosystem of the ski business where SKIING and its uptown rival, SKI, were the nexus of all that was happening.

Under Doug Pfeiffer, editor-in-chief and already an industry legend, and Al Greenberg, executive editor, the magazine in those days was a creative, innovative and exciting place to work and for readers a valuable and entertaining look at what was emerging as a growing winter sport. Interest in skiing was bursting in the early 70s; celebrities were being recognized and promoted by the press:  Billy The Kid, Jean-Claude Killy, Karl Schranz.  Harry Leonard’s Ski Shows—with a young Bernie Weichsel on his staff—descended on major cities.  The movie, “Downhill Racer”, starring Robert Redford, brought the drama and beauty of racing to the public. There were new boots, new bindings, new skis, new everything from destinations to accessories, and SKIING covered it all with expertise, a touch of irreverence and some really great writing.

I will never forget learning the basics of cross-country skiing in Al Greenberg’s office at One Park Avenue, New York.  Or watching Senior Editor John Henry Auran getting his feet “foamed” for ski boot liners, an outstanding innovation back in the day. “Have you been foamed?” he always asked mischievously. There were also 3:00 AM deadlines, last minute changes, hysterical laughter when coming up with headlines with Managing Editor Dinah Witchel. It was always fun watching Fashion Editor Cathie Judge sort through piles and piles of new clothes for photo shoots.

One month, we were so late in getting final editorial done that I—the junior person— was tasked to personally hand deliver the physical page layouts and copy down to the printing plant in Doraville, GA. I was driven to the airport in New York for an ultra-early flight straight from the office after an all-nighter by John Henry and some other anxious production people. When I landed, I took a cab from Atlanta miles out to Doraville only to find the plant was closed for Confederate Memorial Day.  So I left the whole edition—packaged in a giant cardboard sandwich bigger than two super-sized pizzas—with the security guard at the gate who promised to get it to the right person the next day.  I gulped, left it with him, got back into the cab, and flew back to New York.

And of course, I will never forget the early 70s ski tests with Wayne Wong, Doug and Ginny Pfeiffer and Jim McDill out in Mammoth Mountain after Memorial on spring snow and bright sunshine near the top of the mountain.

Memories, bound volumes, and reunion phone calls from long-ago colleagues are left.  Thanks SKIING for the run.

If you worked at SKIING, what are your stories?  I know that several contributors to SeniorsSkiing.com were on staff back when the magazine was a vibrant center of the skiing community.  Tell us your memories.

 

 

 

 

6 Comments

  1. That is a shame Mike. Is on line publishing the cause of the demise? Lack of subscriptions? Skiing Magazine is iconic. Signs of the times I suppose.

  2. Rose Marie Cleese says:

    If Mike was the junior member of Skiing’s staff, then I was the junior-junior member since Mike was my boss! My official title was assistant editor of the magazine’s two trade publications, Skiing Area News and Skiing Trade News. The good news is that I got to research and write articles not only for the quarterly trades but also resort profiles for the Eastern regional section of the main magazine, visiting such international skiing hot spots as Vermont’s Dutch Hill and Maple Valley and New Jersey’s Great Gorge! Perhaps my most interesting story was the one I did about a weekly skiers’ bus service from Manhattan to Vermont offered by some chi-chi adventurers’ club. They picked up skiers along Park Avenue on Friday nights, dumping them at Sugarbush, and picking them back up on Sunday afternoon for the return trip to Manhattan. Since I wanted to check out Mad River Glen while I was up in that neck of the woods, I decided to hitchhike there from Sugarbush, having no car. A woman in a big black SUV stopped and happened to be going to Mad River Glen. After getting in her vehicle and being berated by her for hitchhiking, I discovered that she was Suzy “Chapstick” Chaffee’s mother. Small world! Back on One Park Avenue, I was usually the first person there in the editorial offices (around 10 AM!) and loved it when we’d all work late and go out to dinner together around 8 or 9 PM with editor-in-chief Doug Pfeiffer, “the father of hot dog skiing”, and others on the staff. Great times, great people!! So sad to see it go the way of the wind. Thank you, Mike, for calling me a couple of years ago–and after a break of 45 years!–to ask me if I’d like to work with you again. Lovin’ it!

  3. marc liebman says:

    Well guys and gals, reading Michael’s article yanked a lot of memories out of storage in the back of my mind. I remember the names and the people even though I worked for arch rival SKI Magazine in the early 70s writing ski equipment, racing and ski instruction articles. It was fun times because I got to spend a lot of time on the snow testing products, some really good and some really wretched.

    When we’d meet the folks from SKIING at industry events, there was a lot of good natured banter. Some of it would spill over into the pages although John Fry, the editor-in-chief of SKI frowned upon any public criticism of our more glamorous, better known competitor. Fry would never allow us to do a comparison of SKI’s testing methodology vs. that used by SKIING even though it was much more accurate and scientific. Oh, sorry, I couldn’t help myself! Old habits die hard…

    I never did understand the economics that allowed SKIING, SKI, POWDER and all the other magazines to survive. Maybe economics driven by a static skiing population and the internet finally caught up to the pub. It must have been a very bleak outlook if the the owners decided not to shift to an on-line pub.

  4. In the 1970’s I lived in Ludlow, VT. and taught skiing at Okemo. I recall coming home from my summer job one early fall afternoon to be greeted by my roommates. They were sitting on the front porch enjoying the warm fall afternoon, wearing cut-offs, T-shirts and their ski boots (a pair of Nordica yellow “banana” boots and an ornage pair of Lange comps) reading the latest edition of SKIING.

  5. Dr. Gretchen Rous Besser says:

    When serving as a volunteer at the 1979 World Cup and 1980 Olympics in Lake Placid, I wound up in the VIP Lounge with Katie Rodolph Wyatt and Sally Neidlinger Hudson. Both years we hosted celebs, racers, heads of state, and sponsors like SKIING who had paid $50,000 for the privilege of hobnobbing with their peers at our non-stop cocktail party. I recall the mixed emotions with which I welcomed Al Greenberg, then editor- in-chief of SKIING, while barring entry to Dick Needham, his counterpart at SKI. During our long, subsequent friendship, Dick never failed to rib me about my brief career as a bouncer. In the end, it’s SKI that has survived.

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