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Sigi Prelude By Ott Gangl
BACKCOUNTRY IN 1948, A SIGI STORY
By Ott Gangl -- (c) copyrighted article
When I was 16 in 1948 I bought a pair of real skis with money from working after school, they were Laupheimers and were laminated and thus would hold their camber, and had steel edges, those four inch strips held with wood screws to the skis. Also they had Kandahar cable bindings which could be either skied heel free or could be hooked down near the heel. The first time I saw bamboo was when I got the ski poles, they were great.
Our local ski hill with a rope tow powered by a farmers tractor was not challenging and had hordes of little kids on it and adults who kept hollering at us to slow down, bummer. So we continued our hang-on adventure during the week after school. About every three weeks we had a school sponsored chaperoned two day bus trip to the mountains for skiing, plus I got to go during school holidays and vacations with my best friend's
parents since mine were non-skiers.
But the best was on weekends when a bunch of us, boys and girls, went to a mountain a couple of hours by bike away with a little village in the valley. Our parents figured there was safety in numbers since there were usually 14-16 of us so we had one night without adults...
This mountain had a hut on top at the Alm, an Alm is where a farmers cows are driven up to in May and they stay there grazing until September, with a couple living in the hut and milking daily and making cheese. The drives, both up and down are done with a lot of hoopla, the cows decorated with flowers on their horns and big bells around their necks. The huts are left open all winter with firewood and all utensils intact and anyone who uses them must leave them the way they were found .
We would leave home right after Saturday school (half day until 11 a.m.) and start climbing the mountain by 3 p.m. It was wide open from the top to the bottom and it meant traversing for four hours to reach the top.
Some of the richer kids had skins, but we poorer ones just buckled a short thong around the skis just ahead of the binding making the bottoms ice up, kind of heavy but we didn't slip backward.
Now I must make you aware what motivated us: there was Siglinde, Sigi for short, a tall lanky 16 year old beauty with a big blonde braid down her back, always a twinkle in her eyes, who could out ski us all and all of us boys were smitten with her if not even in love, as I was. There is nothing sexier than a beautiful, graceful girl who skis better than you do...all the boys went because of Sigi and the rest of the girls went because the boys went...
It would be dark when we got to the hut and after making a fire cooking and eating supper from the supplies we brought up in our packs, some horse play and telling of stories and singing some songs, we went to sleep on blankets over straw, boys on one side of the room, girls on the other.
Sunday morning it was a snowball fight, girls vs. boys, which ended up by all the boys tackling Sigi and the rest of the girls jumping on the boys.
Once I was first to tackle Sigi and she wrestled me to the snow, not that I resisted much, and she straddled me kneeling over me and stuffing snow into my face while I held her hips and rocked them back and forth pretending to want to get the upper hand....
For weeks there after I had fantasies about me and Sigi which still make me blush just thinking about them. Then it was time to clean the hut and get down the mountain, probably a four mile run. Sigi would lead followed by the boys, watching her stretch pants tighten on her great figure with every turn, and trailed by the rest of the girls.
It was exhilarating to make new tracks, only crossing our uphill traverses, hootin' and hollerin'.
We would ski right through the church cemetery to the front door of the church, lean our skis against the wall and went to mass. After lunch we packed up and biked home...
Though it seems now like a lot of trouble to go through just for one run, but we got more satisfaction out of that than the constant up and down all weekend at other places...
It was all Sigi's fault...
Ott Gangl is retired as a PSIA Level-3 ski instructor after 25 years of teaching four times a week. He was a photojournalist for 35 years and his web site ( http://corrr1.com ) displays many of the classic images he has captured on film.
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