Covered Ground: October 1990

Follow me, on a journey into the pages of POWDER past

Scot Schmidt thrives on the steeps. PHOTO: Larry Prosor
Scot Schmidt thrives on the steeps. PHOTO: Larry Prosor

Scot Schmidt graces the October 1990 issue with this timeless shot by Larry Prosor. The pages within Vol. 19 No. 2 are littered with more photos of Schmidt airing it out, hop turning, and rocking neon.

In the POWDER Ski Test within, Steve Casimiro, the author of the piece and managing editor of the magazine at the time, introduces Schmidt. “No one’s pushed the limits of U.S. skiing quite like Scot has. On film and off, his cliff jumping and steeps skiing have justifiably earned him a rep as America’s foremost extreme skier. Despite challengers, there still isn’t anyone who turns ‘em like Scot.”

Twenty-five years later, those words largely still hold true.

The POWDER ski test was carried out by legendary testers, including the aforementioned Schmidt, Pepi Stiegler (Olympic gold, silver, and bronze medalist), and Davey McCoy (ski film star at the time and grandson of Davey McCoy, the founder of Mammoth Mountain). Of course all the skis in the test were straight as an arrow and most were 205 centimeters long. With that in mind, if you’re in the market for a new pair of boards, it may be wise to sit still for the much more relevant 2016 Buyer’s Guide within the upcoming September issue.

There is an odd bit of irony in how much has changed in terms of gear, but still how little has changed in the identity of the sport.

For instance, the Hahnenkamm is still the greatest ski race in the world. Michel Beaudry’s article celebrates the 50th anniversary of the legendary downhill in Kitzbühel, the surrounding culture, and the party behind it. But as far as the race itself goes, Franz Klammer said it best back then. “Most racers barely learn to survive the Kitzbühel course. To win her you’ve got to learn to love it.”

Chris Noble’s cover story “In Search of the Extreme” takes a look at the state of the sport at the time and discusses the differences on the two sides of the Atlantic. Even today Americans still like to hit big airs, and Europeans are still pioneering fall-you-die lines.

Despite the time that has passed, Noble nails down why we’re all still chasing the extreme. “No matter where it is practiced or how it is defined, extreme skiing is about testing limits. It’s about pushing the envelope of performance beyond what most skiers consider possible. It’s about a life enhanced by challenge and self-discovery, one in harmony with some of the wildest terrain on this planet.”