I think the predominant factors in people not viewing skiing as cool revolve around a couple basic themes.
1. Fear- unless you grow up in a skiing environment, the idea of flying down a hill with limited control(seemingly) at speeds far above a trot requires a set of balls/ovaries that few possess after the age of being made of rubber and is a tall order for most of the couch potatos I know. The extreme aspects of our sport are the most prevelant type of media and commercial exposure available. I believe it puts a very inaccurate light on the full experiance of skiing for the sake of excitement. With todays penchant for sensationalizing everything, it stands to reason that many who don't know our sport are put off at the idea of doing something that has only been shown as "intense, extreme(arrgggh), and dangerous. That mentality appeals to a very small niche market, but doesn't bode well for bringing newbies into the fold. Remember "The Agony of Defeat" intro to ABC's Wide world of Sports? Most non skiers that saw that spectacular ski jumping crash over and over through the years have little idea that it's a totally different sport from alpine, this type of hype isn't a particularly new trend. Add in all the video bites of big cliff jumps, 1500' ragdolls down rock lined colouirs, the mounting coverage of avalanche deaths reported in mainstream media, and for the uninitiated you get a very scary view of our sport. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy alot of the great new footage and movies as an agressive, avid fan of my sport, but, it doesn't make Mom want to take the little ones anywhere near a place where these sorts of images could be possible.
2. The sport was initially pitched to the public as a stars sport, a sport to be "seen" doing, a glitterati affair, a little bit snotty and pretentious. I'm thinking Sun Valley's early years with Clark Gable, Errol Flynn, Ann Southern, Marilyn Monroe, the Kennedy's, etc. Averill Harriman's vision grabbed the imagination of an American ideal and mindset that doesn't exist in todays pop culture. People once admired celebrity and fame, many thought that these people were better than the average Joe(why else would they be so rich and famous) and wanted to rub elbows with them in the hopes that it would raise their status and worth as a human being, guilt by association as it were. Then, in the late sixties/early seventies, that very attraction turned 180 degrees into all that was percieved to be wrong with society today-elitist, rich, white, no soul, in it for the money, exclusionary, etc. Hotdogging and Freestyle was a natural outgrowth of this attitude. At that time, all there were were skiers. The young, "radical" element rebelled by getting crazy and loose and exploring areas of skiing that were verboten in the Austrian/European hierarchy of teaching and racing.
When snowboards came on the market around the time of Gen x's grunge culture, skiing was a sitting duck for the rage of youth to rally against. Rally they did with the media right behind. Since many of the boarders came from the skate punk arena, with the very hip, oh so cool,( and oh so unoriginal) F**K everything attitude, the media sensed an opportunity and capitalized on it. Here we are. If the denutting and sanitizing of the resorts and image of skiing in the eighties for the attempted financial hooking of the semi wealthy doctor/lawyer/corporate dollar hadn't occured, perhaps it would be a less polarized scenario. Well, I've become quite a bit more verbose than intended, shutting up now.
Oh, one more thing:-) Today's addiction to having everything come to you with no effort and ease has squelched a whole generation or more of the ability to see the value in something that takes work and consistent, deliberate, intense effort to see the fruits of. Effort? SWEAT? Dude, that's not cool!! Or, "Naw, that's too hard, I'd rather play Halo, or watch a new, really great, violent video, or do anything except use my mind AND body AND emotional content to accomplish something that would uplift and enrich me. I mean, MY GAWD, I could fail, or even worse, LOOK LIKE A DORK!!!!
: If I don't try it, none of those absolutely awful things will ever happen to me!!" Unfortunately, none of the absolutely great things that come of attempts like that will ever happen to you either. OOOPS, that's another rant. I probably wouldn't have wrote this if there were snow on the ground.
waiting patiently for a dump