Saturday, February 05, 2005

A Ski Story Close to Home

Apparently, avid skier, outdoorsman, sportsman and writer, Sir Arthur Conan "The Barbarian" Doyle , creator of super-sleuth Sherlock Holmes, is credited with bringing the sport of skiing and the Swiss Alps to the attention of the world.

He had two Swiss guides, Hans and Franz. OK, they weren't Hans and Franz, Hans and Franz were Austrian, well faux Austrian, anyway. His guides took him out on the mountains near Davos, Switzerland. This is right around the corner from St. Moritz. It was on this trip Doyle strapped on a pair of skis for the first time. I do mean strapped quite literally. Well, the area they travelled is now closed because of avalanche danger. It's a good thing we didn't lose the bloke to an avalanche. The world would have had to wait on skiing, and would have missed a some great stories.

I personally would have still know about skiing, because Doyle made this discovery near where my Dad grew up. Dad grew up in Champfér (pronounced Chomp-fair), which is right next to St. Moritz. Here's a map of the area.

A little tangent . . . thier home in the village had livestock on the first level. This was common in this area. The animals shared their heat, on cold winter nights. Not a good place for the allergic or sensitive nose.

Anyway, back to skiing, Before the resorts had all of this hi-tech grooming equipment they used to have workers pack the runs by walking down them sideways (with their skis on). For a half days work, my dad would get a one day lift ticket. Not a bad deal for both parties.

If skiing hadn't become so popular the world around, I imagine the technological advancements may have come more slowly. Maybe we'd still be slapping planks of wood on our hiking boots and tying them down with leather straps. Imagine trying to run a downhill course at 60 or 70 miles an hour with that gear. You'll want to make sure your emergency crew brings a full fleet of ambulances, and probably some shovels, too!

Goodbye, sweet St. Moritz, until we ski you again!

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