Letters

February 18, 1991

The Real Bill Napier
To our regret, a photo caption accompanying the story ice Follies in our Feb. 4 issue (page 56) misidentified a man running on a track as Bill Napier, president of the U.S. Bobsled and Skeleton Federation. Here is the same photograph, recropped to show the real Bill Napier.—ED.

Heli-Skiing
E.M. Swift's article on helicopter skiing (Snow Blind, Jan. 14) gave me sweaty palms. My skis have been in the attic for years, but Swift's article brought back memories of the beauty, fear and exhilaration that make skiing so great.
WILLIAM P. HOWE
Wayne, Pa.

I cannot begin to tell you how much I enjoyed reading Swift's story. He made the reader feel like a member of the group, skiing along with him and the others. This moving story has brought me one step closer to putting on skis and journeying down a mountain.
K. VASKEN BABIGIAN
Waltham, Mass.

My own heli-skiing trip during the New Year's holiday was indescribable. The memories of sun-drenched powder runs will last a lifetime. Canadian Mountain Holidays Inc. did everything possible to keep the skiing fun and safe. But as skiers we recognized and accepted the dangers.
DAVID L. ILSLEY
Mequon, Wis.

En route to my first CMH heli-skiing trip, I read Swift's article, as did others on the trip. Two of our party took the next flight home, forfeiting their investment. The rest of the group continued on, with some trepidation. Now, on my way home, I can report the article was an accurate account of a heli-ski vacation with the exception of the obvious negative tone. We found our trip to be rewarding and fulfilling.
HUTCH JOHNSON
Lake Oswego, Ore.

As a veteran CMH heli-skier and group leader, I found Snow Blind distressing. I was heli-skiing in Canada the same week Swift was, but I was at Monashees. It snowed at least a foot a day, we never saw the sun, we skied in the trees all week in bottomless powder, we fell and got wet, our goggles fogged, we sweated, and the helicopter renewed "the vicious cycle" over and over. In short, we had the best week ever. One man's dream is another man's nightmare. Certainly the death of a fellow skier is heartbreaking. However, it should be emphasized that Eric King, the skier who died, was not following the rules. CMH is very safety conscious, and its guides are well trained.
ERIC C. DISBROW
Sacramento

Your article mentions that King routinely veered 100 yards or more to either side of the line established by the guide. CMH ski guides are certified professional mountain guides, responsible, knowledgeable and assertive. But they arc not drill sergeants, and, in the last analysis, they are in effect employees of the clients, most of whom are very independent and a few of whom, unfortunately, are reckless. Your article gives a fine company a bum rap.
CHRISTOPHER GILL
San Antonio

While I can hardly be pleased about Swift's article, I do realize that heli-skiing is a highly subjective experience, tempered by the participant's attitude and ability, and therefore the guest's perception is for him the ultimate truth.

This, however, does not give license to insinuate, pass off hearsay or distort the truth.

Had your writer looked past the pictures, he would have seen that our brochure states very clearly and in bold print that a) "on marginal weather days we can only ski in the trees," b) that this may be "a frustrating experience not meeting your high expectations," and c) "there are risks beyond our control which you have to share with us."

There is not a single film which CMH has produced or commissioned without a clear visual and verbal statement about the necessity to ski in poor weather, in difficult snow and in the trees.

For a publication as reputable as SI, it is a sad commentary to publish such a scurrilous article. If you feel it is necessary to warn your readers about the dangers of heli-skiing, then you should do so based on facts and in an objective manner.
HANS GMOSER
Chairman of the Board
Canadian Mountain Holidays Inc.
Banff, Alberta

SI has asked for and reviewed CMH's specific objections to the story and has found one error, which it regrets. A promotional film cited by Swift that included a scene about a terminally ill skier who elected "to go out on a wave of powder" by skiing for 18 consecutive weeks was not made for CMH. It was made for Mike Wiegele Helicopter Skiing, and it was with this organization that the man skied, not CMH.

CMH takes issue with SI's statement that the company has had 21 skier deaths in its 26-year history. Those figures had been provided to SI by CMH, which now points out that although they are accurate, only three of the deaths occurred in the last decade.—ED.

PHOTONANCIE BATTAGLIA

Letters to SPORTS ILLUSTRATED should include the name, address and home telephone number of the writer and should be addressed to The Editor, SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, Time & Life Building, Rockefeller Center, New York, N.Y. 10020-1393.

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