Cameron Carpenter: Rock’n’Roll Rewind – Goin’ Downhill

Cam Bandana

This week we rewind to January 1979 and my third and final lifestyle story for The New Music Magazine. This one is about downhill skiing and reading it now it is painfully apparent how much the sport has changed.


When I wrote this I skied at Blue Mountain and there was a total of five chairlifts, four of which were doubles and one a triple. There were no high speed chairs, they still had a rope tow, a couple of tee-bars and a few poma lifts. There were no hotels and no condos at the base of the Apple Bowl. The Walkman was still in development, there was no night skiing and instead of ski brakes we still relied on safety straps. Boarding was non-existent and freestyle skiing involved going as fast as you could, catching as much air as possible and to reach the bottom of the hill still standing. Skis were not parabolic and you sized them by lifting your arm above your head and then sizing them using that height. Back then I used 207’s for racing and 160’s for freestyle.

Downhill All The Way – A Look At Skiing From A Novice’s Point Of View” – January 1979

Ski Lift

From hamburgers to bars and now they want me to write about skiing? I’d rather write about Kiss but I’ll go with the bucks, for now.

Skiing in Southern Ontario is becoming a favourite pastime of families who have extra money to throw around Skiing is expensive. Equipment prices are astronomical, rentals are expensive, clothing is expensive, lodging is expensive, and on top of all this you are doomed if you don’t have a car. The only way to ski cheaply is to ski cross-country, although I still swear it is more boring than jogging but then again I smoke.

Ski_bootsThe first thing you have to do to enjoy skiing is buy, if Santa didn’t come through for you, equipment. If you are still at all serious about the sport it is best to have your own stuff but don’t shell out $300.00 until you have convinced yourself that you like frostbite, sore legs and hot chocolate. Once you’ve convinced yourself of this the first thing you should buy is a pair of boots. If you’re just starting out don’t get conned into paying any more than $125.00. Get a pair of buckle boots, don’t let the guy down the street sell you his first pair of lace-ups because they won’t give your feet the support, warmth or comfort they need.

After your feet are happy you should start thinking about a pair of skis. Once again $125.00 should be able to get you a pair of reliable skis which should give iICETmLyou two or three years of good service, after which you’ll be able to get better equipment or sell what you have to the guy down the street and take up curling. Before I forget, when you buy your skis don’t get talked into buying a cheap pair of bindings. Spend the extra fifteen bucks and get a good pair because these little babies can be the deciding factor in a fall; whether you walk away with a mouth full of snow or spend a week in the Collingwood hospital with a cast up to your waist.

MinionOther little equipment expenses will be such things as poles safety straps goggles, wax, etc. You don’t have to go overboard in this department; your best bet is to take a friend along who skis and he or she will let you know what to buy.

The biggest trap that most people fall into when they are starting to ski is the “if I can’t ski I still want to look good” department. These are the people who spend twenty bucks on equipment and two ‘grand’ on clothes and accessories. The only thing on which you should spend a lot of money are your gloves and long underwear. The best bet for keeping your hands warm is a pair of down-filled mitts. They’re not high on the high-fashion hit parade but you’ll be the only one in the lodge able to hold a drink. A good pair of long underwear and thick thermal socks are also a must if you ever want to walk normally again.

french aircrew overallsOn your legs you can wear a baggy pair of blue jeans and from the waist up a tee-shirt sweater and jean jacket. Then cover this whole mess up with a big pair of army surplus airplane coveralls. You’ll look like hell but you’ll be warm (and you can always tell the person beside you on the chair lift that you’re into punk rock). This get-up has an added feature; if you look terrible and ski terribly, people don’t mind, but if you look great and ski rotten they think you’re a fool. If you look terrible and ski great they think you’re unique and you become the centre of attention, so you really can’t lose.

By now you’re probably wondering what this has to do with music. Well, music is the newest trend in skiing. You can now buy a special skiing cassette tape Skiing Tape Playerrecorder that fits down the front of your jacket and via headphones you can ski gracefully to the sounds of Saturday Night Fever or bash the moguls to the sounds of the Ramones. If you don’t have the money for one of these nifty contraptions you are better off strapping your old Panasonic down the front of your overalls and sticking an earplug in your ear If you’re worried about falling wrap the machine up in some foam. Just remember that everyone on the hill is not listening and they might not appreciate you serenading them.

Now that you’re all outfitted it’s time to hit the hills. After you’ve learned how to walk around with your skis on, (avoid revolving doors), you must learn to master the ski lifts.

The first lift you will encounter is the rope tow. If you’ve seen the Sugar Pops commercial with Dwayne Kilstrom skijouring behind his daddy’s horse this one should be a snap.

All you do is grab the moving rope and hang on for dear life. When you get to the top let go and move out of the way or you will be skied on. The golden rule for all lifts is; if you fall off, scream bloody murder and they’ll shut the thing down until you’ve composed yourself.

Ski LiftWhen you start skiing better, you get to go on more interesting lifts. After the rope tow you should progress to a poma or pony lift. This one is a lot more fun. It’s a little metal thing with a white plastic ‘seat’ on it. This lift sneaks up to you from behind and the object of the game is to grab it and get it between your legs; when this is done you lean back on the seat and it pulls you up the hill. If you weigh under a hundred pounds it is highly recommended that you not try to sit on the seat or you’ll get a free aerial ride that will turn you off skiing, and sex, for the rest of your life.

Now that you’re getting really good, you get to ride the best lifts of all the chairlifts. These come in two models, the double and the triple. The double is more fun because you only get stuck with one person you don’t like and your girlfriend and the girl you’re having an affair with will never be on the same chair at the same time. The double chair is also a good way to get a date.

Snow Bunny

Sometimes you’ll get really lucky and the girl beside you will have her name engraved on her skis and conversation will be easy. Chances are she will be loaded and have her own chalet. (If her name is ‘Rental’ don’t even talk to her.) Tell her you’re from B.C. and just practising on these ‘baby’ hills to get your ballet act down tight for the nationals in March but whatever you do don’t let her see you ski.

Getting on the chairlift is easy, you just turn around and sit down when it comes. The triple chair is a little tougher so don’t get stuck in the middle.

Apres_Ski_sleeve_-_Front_thumb_325The only thing tougher than learning how to ski is learning how to present yourself in an après-ski environment. Whatever you do don’t drink Stock Ale and talk about Led Zeppelin. This is a sophisticated world you’re entering and you should be drinking white wine and talking about the effects of the Parti Quebecois on the Quebec ski industry. If anyone asks you where you are staying, say that you have your own chalet but it’s being painted and you’d much rather go over to their place to have a drink. Never turn down a drink.

If you’re skiing in the Toronto area tell anyone who asks that you didn’t have time to get up to Barrie. If you’re skiing in Barrie tell them you didn’t have time to get to Collingwood. If you’re skiing in Collingwood tell them you’re stopping over on your way to Quebec. When you’re in Quebec nobody will ask any questions and if they do you won’t understand them anyway just order a Brador and nod.

I should give you a few phone numbers which are a skier’s must. For up to the minute weather reports phone Malton at 676-3066. For road and traffic call Ski Bums248-3561. If you have any doubts whatsoever about road closings I urge you to call because there is nothing more boring than spending a night at the Barrie Burger Chef. For information about skiing in Eastern Canada you can call Ski East at 487-7784. And there is an organization called Ski Bums Unanimous Inc. at 488-5441 who might be able to help you with some of your problems.

Well, as I finish writing I notice that it is snowing and time to get the boots out. Happy New Year, and happy trails.”

Come down to the Kensington Lodge some Wednesday night and request The Ramones.


Come request “Master Race Rock” by The Dictators one Wednesday night at The Kensington Lodge.

Cam’s column appears every Thursday.

Follow Cam on Twitter @CC59

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DBAWIS ButtonCameron Carpenter has written for The New Music Magazine, Music Express, The Asylum, The Varsity, The Eye Opener, The New Edition, Shades, Bomp!, Driven Magazine, FYI Music News, The Daily XY, and New Canadian Music.

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