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September 2013

Speak Out :: Does Vice Still Sell?

John Fry, former editor of Ski and Snow Country magazines, responds to an article in our July 2013 issue of SAM.

Written by John Fry | 0 comment

The last issue of SAM [July 2013] asked whether “Vice fits in ski marketing,” and then proceeded to answer the question as if the selling of recreational skiing began in 1970, rather than a hundred years earlier when the brilliant Swiss hotelier/marketer Andreas Badrutt conned the British to come to St. Moritz for history’s first actively marketed alpine ski vacation.

Skiing’s most rapid expansion, as the descendants of SAM’s founding editor/publisher would know, occurred in the twenty years leading up to 1970. Participation numbers in the 1950s and into the 1960s were doubling every five or six years. One might ask if it was cause or mere coincidence that this explosive growth took place when the sport was suffused with rampant sexuality. Resorts, for example, directed instructors to be available in the evening to entertain guests, and looked aside if they guided consensual female clients to their rooms. Bogner and others fashioned pants that exquisitely displayed the female (and male) buttocks. Boy meets girl was a primary motive of the ski weekend. Cartoons in the ski magazines found humor in guys leering at girls.

When the era of political correctness arrived, the magazines ceased publishing cartoons, along with fold-out spreads of beautiful girls. As for the famous, body-hugging ski fashion originating in the 1950s, it has been supplanted today by the bulky look. Snowboarding in the 1990s gave us a sort of asexual look; it’s difficult to discern whether the wearer is male or female. What is certain is that the sport is not growing at 10 percent a year as it did fifty and more years ago.

The author of your cover story on vice could have found these revelations and more in my book “The Story of Modern Skiing,” published in 2006. And for a continuing perspective of the changes in the sport, too, he and your editors can find pleasure in reading Skiing History Magazine. Go to for information on how to subscribe.

The writer is president of the International Skiing History Association, and a former editor of SKI and of Snow Country magazines.