What a delightful case Writer Paul Stewart and Photographer John Zimmerman made for powder skiing (The Perils of Powder, Nov. 15)! The picture showing arm and pole midst swirling powder expresses more succinctly than could any number of words just what "floating the fluff" is all about. The American skier must be fast becoming bored with skiing on hills that are like well-manicured putting greens—and of reading about variations on the basic technique for maneuvering down same.
New York City
John Zimmerman's deep-powder photographs were great, but who decided Eddie Morris of Alta, Utah is the best powder instructor in the country? Aspen Highlands' Fred Iselin and Lefty Brinkman, not to mention Aspen's Jim Snobble, or Sepp Kessler and half a dozen others from Aspen, would qualify for the best in anybody's book.
Who decided Alta invented deep powder? I was introduced to it by Max Bertsch of the Davos ski school, in Davos, Switzerland in 1945, and it had been going on there before Alta was born.
November 29, 1965
Who decided Vail had Colorado's best powder skiing? Why don't you ask Ted Johnson? He has skied them all.
It seems to me that a little less editorial license would have endeared you more to the skiing-in-deep-powder lovers, of which I'm one.
Your cover billing reads: "The World's Best Snow: Western Powder." I'm quite insulted, because I thought everyone knew Vermont has the best snow—and, I might add, the best skiers!
New Haven, Conn.
One point that you mentioned, but did not state very forcefully: nowhere in the world can you find such snow and sun conditions as in the Taos Ski Valley, Santa Fe (N. Mex.) region. For a native of the Alps like me, the light powder and the brilliant sun of the southern Rockies are a continuing source of wonder and delight. In fact, it is hard to understand why so few Europeans come here to ski, where it is still fun and by no means more expensive. I find it amazing, living in the Southwest, that so many Americans fly to the Alps when they have the world's best skiing right here in their own backyard.
El Prado, N. Mex.
It is interesting to note that it is the European visitors especially who go wild about Taos snow and Taos sun—in fact, many of them end up by working for Ernie Blake and his various lodges. The result is that you can find some of the most fabulous French, Swiss and Scandinavian food right on the slopes of Taos Ski Valley.
Taos, N. Mex.
In his article, The Celtics Isn't Dead Yet (Nov. 15), Joe Jares asks Philly if the champ is still alive. Why not ask Boston who's the toughest team in the league? Ask Red Auerbach how many cigar-smoking nights he has missed against Philly. Ask Bill Russell who is the greatest center in the league. Bill Russell? Hah! Since Wilt Chamberlain has come into the league, you can count on one hand the number of games Russell has outplayed Wilt. We "fanatics" down in Philly wouldn't trade the 76ers for any team in the league, including the Celts, and we folks here in the basketball capital of the nation know what we're talking about.
OUT OF THE PARLOR
As an amateur table-tennis player and enthusiast for 20 years, I must congratulate Dick Miles on his article, Spongers Seldom Chisel (Nov. 15). I have always maintained that this was not a parlor game for polite old men and sexy young ladies, but a sophisticated, exciting, physically strenuous game of precise skill, timing and strategy. Mr. Miles has gone a long way toward dignifying this fine sport.
EDWARD R. BUSH, M.D.
As a footnote to Miles's anecdote about the surprise appearance in 1963 of a Red Chinese defensive player, it should be noted that Chang (The Chopper) Shih-lin was forced to change style in a 1965 world championship match in Yugoslavia—and lost. Chang met another defensive ace, Eberhard Scholer of West Germany, in the quarter-finals. After Scholer won the first game of the best-of-five match, a modern and decidedly more difficult version of the famous "long point" occurred in the second game. Chang drove the ball with the necessary top spin for 15 minutes with Scholer steadily returning each offensive shot. This remarkable point forced the expedite rule to be invoked, but the match (won by Scholer in the fifth and final game) still took two hours to play.
I have waited and waited for you to do an article on motor sports. Well, today one appeared and boy was I let down (The Grand Prix Was a Gasser, Nov. 15)! You have some of the most capable of motor-sports writers on your staff but, no, you had to send a sociologist to do a man's job. I am sure that SI readers are interested in the sport, not the spectators. I suggest you refer Liz Smith to the American Sociological Association—where she belongs!
Liz Smith's coverage of the Riverside Grand Prix was excellent, to say the least. The humorous description of the occasion from the spectators' point of view rather than from that of the participant was delightfully different from the coverage found in sports-car magazines. For the details of the technical side of the race I can always consult other authoritative sources, but the coverage of the real race (the human race) is almost always missing. The quotes from Hap Sharp, like, "I ain't going to tell you how it works" with respect to the Chaparral II automatic transmission, and the descriptions of feminine garments such as the skintight purple hip-huggers cracked me up. Keep up the good work—with some coverage of Nassau Speed Week, maybe?
WAYNE B. KIDDER
Ann Arbor, Mich.
In answer to Joe Reitz's letter (19TH HOLE, NOV. 8) I would like to say that he is greatly exaggerating the ease of the short field goal and the point after touchdown. In order to prove the simplicity of these two, Joe and his neighbor set the ball up on a tee and just casually kicked field goals. His method of just kicking the ball from a tee with no defense is as close a comparison to actual circumstances as James Bond is to Little Orphan Annie.
He fails to take into consideration the pressures of a real game. Within one second, the ball must be snapped to a receiver who must catch it, straighten it out and set it down at a specific angle while he knows that a heavy, spiked foot is bearing down on the ball only inches from his unprotected hand. While this is happening, 11 men are charging the kicker bent on stuffing the ball down his throat.
Some day put on a pair of spikes and head down to the local football field. Get a bunch of kids to rush and, as a test of friendship, ask a friend to hold the ball while you try a field goal. You'll be surprised to find out how many friends you don't have.
EUGENE J. DUFFY
POP ANGLING (CONT.)
I thought that Bil Gilbert's article was very enlightening (A Pop Angler's Guide to Fishing, Nov. 1). I remember, with excitement, the first experience I had with pop fishing. We were on a picnic in the Mt. Hood National Forest. The Zigzag River ran next to the picnic grounds, so we went fishing. I employed a used booze glass and was the undisputed top angler of the day, with a harvest of more than 10 trout finger-lings. My other experience with pop fishing, before I read Mr. Gilbert's article, was at YMCA summer camp. I did not have a rod or reel so I had to use my camp hat. It was a canvas camp hat (everybody had to have a camp hat if he was a camper). I got the biggest thrill possible when I scooped up a 3½-inch trout.
After reading the article I tried some pop methods on the fish in the Mill Race (a fast-moving stream that goes through the University of Oregon's fraternity and sorority sections). I have caught a coed with a beer mug and a frat fish with a crib sheet. But I have found that the best bait is a combination of Mother Slonaker's Super Creamy Vitamin Enriched Loaf and Mother Motta's Magic Mustard. This has brought me the biggest catch when applied to an empty beer keg. I once caught a whole school of shaggy graduate fish.
Once I was standing at the edge of the spillway at our city dam and watching others fish. A 3-pound buffalo (considered non-fish by some people) was trying to go upstream and leaped out of the water right at my feet. I scooped him up with my bare hands. I did not have much trouble finding someone who wanted to take him home for supper.
JOHN W. SCHMOKER