A Mad Dash through Modern Global Ski Culture
- ISBN: 9781553656463
- Tags: Leslie Anthony, Sports & Recreation,
- Published On: 27/09/2010
- 304 Pages
""Brilliant, funny, evocative. Made me want to ski now. Hands down the best ski-travel book ever written. But then, what else would you expect from the master of ski travel?"" -- Jake Bogoch, former editor of SKIER
A fun and informative look at the global ski revolution from one of its long-time devotees.
Writer, adventurer, and ski hound Leslie Anthony has spent his life on two planks, racing down hills, searching for the next perfect ride. His own discovery of skiing occurred just as Alaska was becoming the ski world's Next Big Thing. In the late eighties and early nineties, ski enthusiasts, powder snow, and vast tracts of steep terrain came together, captured on film and beamed to audiences around the world. The result was a freeskiing revolution.
In White Planet, Anthony traces an arc through much of skiing's global diaspora over the past thirty years, observing its metamorphoses, its ever-new destinations, and the forces that continue to push the sport in more extreme directions. He's skied volcanoes in Mexico and vertical faces in Alaska, he's raced historic telemark courses in Italy, and he's swum through powder in Japan and avalanches in India, always chasing a new experience, a fresh line, and a bluebird day of skiing with someone who shares the passion. Along the way, he introduces many of the daredevils who have succeeded-and sometimes failed-at spectacular feats, the visionaries who have changed the whole concept of boots and boards and what can be done on them, and the entrepreneurs who are bringing the sport to nontraditional markets such as China, Bulgaria, and India.
From the sadistic to the sublime, White Planet is an insightful, humorous, rock 'n' roll adventure that paints a picture of modern global ski culture."
Leslie Anthony is an avid adventurer who has won awards for his poetry and is acclaimed for his work in outdoor, action sport, and general-interest magazines such as Skier, Equinox, explore, and Powder. He also holds a PhD in zoology from the University of Toronto and was a postdoctoral fellow at McGill University's Redpath Museum. The author of Snakebit: Confessions of a Herpetologist and White Planet: A Mad Dash through Modern Global Ski Culture, he lives in Whistler, BC.
"Anthony's White Planet is a comprehensive and remarkably well written delve into the deep powder dreams we all share . . . It's impossible to read White Planet without feeling a sense of belonging to a distinct tapestry of mountain culture, woven one turn at a time." -Backcountry Skiing Canada
"Leslie Anthony is that rare combination: a brainiac and a ski fiend. In White Planet, he mad-dashes off hilarious, penetrating insights on snow and skiing." -Rob Story
"With pitch-perfect profiles of skiing's most colorful characters - who are almost always the ones who are never known beyond their own slopes - and a casual yet contextual intermingling of essential skiing history, White Planet should be a required read for anyone whose heart skips at the sound of a clicking binding." -Jason Blevins, Denver Post
"Brilliant, funny, evocative. Made me want to ski now. Hands down the best ski-travel book ever written. But then, what else would you expect from the master of ski travel?" -Jake Bogoch
"From Japan to Chile to Switzerland to India to Whistler and beyond [Anthony] examines the common threads that run through ski culture and the icons who've made a difference along the way. It's not as awesome as actually skiing pow, but White Planet is as close as you'll get while sitting in an armchair." -Mountain Life Magazine
"In White Planet . . . Anthony paints a picture of modern global ski culture and its constant reinvention . . . Rich in history and humour, Anthony's book weaves his own anecdotes of bravery and bravado with legends of the adventurers who carved the way for ski culture, as we know it. And through those rare personalities and otherworldly places, Anthony tells the story of the contagious spread of a sport." -Canadian Geographic
"White Planet is a fun read, a light tone meant to channel some of the rollicking spirit imbued in the sport and many of its oddballs/daredevils." -Globe & Mail
"With his insider's perspective and spirited blend of daring, Zen, and observation, Leslie passionately tracks the evolution of modern ski culture. Engaging and funny, this is a welcome meditation on soft powder and the not-so-soft sell." -Publishers Weekly
From the Prologue
It seemed simple: tuck your poles under one arm, place one hand ahead of your body, another behind your back, and grab the rope. Which was just what I did. My arms were practically ripped from their sockets as I saw snow, then sky, then snow again. I could hear the slurping, wet whoosh of a body being dragged through snow, the clack-clack of skis clapping together, and Mike’s hysterical laughter. My eyes, nose, and mouth filled with snow. Finally, I’d let go of the rope.
I felt sick. The tow operator picked me up and shepherded me back to the line, where I had the satisfaction of watching the same fate befall Mike. Each of us tried a second time, with a similar result. Beaten, we sniveled around like wounded puppies until, again, someone offered to help. When we eventually made it to the top, it was like we’d been airlifted from hell to well . . . we weren’t sure what.
The speed of sliding downhill was dizzying and intoxicating, the frequent wipeouts brutal and instructive. We continued to have our arms yanked numb by the speedy rope tows, fall backward off a platter lift—a spring-loaded metal pole with a plastic disc you tucked through your crotch to pull you along, itself a novelty—and skid helplessly downhill upside down, we plowed full-speed and out of control into hay bales, and generally took a massive beating from the tiny 115-foot vertical. The most vivid frames from this flickering film, however, are not of motion but notion—how it all looked and felt to my uninitiated senses.
Between runs, we sipped scalding hot chocolate from a rancid smelling machine and queued with tanned, sunglass-adorned hedonists who reeked of coconut and spoke of Collingwood and the Laurentians, the Alps and Banff. Everyone but us—clad in jeans with flannel pajamas dangling below the cuffs—wore sleek, black stretch pants that disappeared into their boots. Smart knit sweaters, turtlenecks, and headbands out-polled jackets, scarves, and hats, making a James Bondian damn-the-elements fashion statement. European labels were legion—Piz Buin, Snik, Vuarnet, Carrera, Arlberg. This leitmotif created the very real sense of mountains, something I knew only from picture books. Amid a monotonous suburban landscape we discovered a window onto a world apart. I stared long and hard, not realizing I was viewing a tiny corner of a worldwide diaspora, an entire galaxy of alpine travel, history, and endeavor.
Mike and I were too battered to walk home, and we sheepishly used our last dime to call my mother. She cried when she saw us: we were broken, bruised, and bloodied, our pajamas shredded by rusty ski edges, the palms of our mitts torn out by the rough hemp of the rope tow. Consumed by guilt, she overlooked our shit-eating grins and did what any conflicted parent would: screamed at us for not calling her sooner.
“It’s ok, mom,” I smiled, unaware that I’d just experienced the closest a human can come to flying without leaving the Earth. “We had fun.”