SKIING AT PLATTEKILL can often feel like being part of skiing’s heritage. The hill is old school, keeping it real. There are even skiers on long skis – and not because they didn’t update their gear, but because they believe in skiing the way it once was. Harder, more challenging. True to its roots. It’s also why tele skiers sing Platty’s praises. (And why there’s the Telefest this weekend). But the hill also has its own historian of skiing. George Quinn. You’ll find him in the shop. He’s also just published a book Skiing in the Catskill Region on the sport’s history from its earliest days when Norwegians brought ski jumping to the area. (Click the read more button to see the rest of the post….)

The book covers everything from the ski trains leaving Grand Central Station amid a riot of poles and long skis in the 1930s to lost ski areas like Highmount and Princeton’s Ski Bowl, a mythic area hidden between Denver Valley and Greene County on its other side. (It’s also one George likes to ski to this day). And, there are stars in the pages, like Kim Novak an early avid skier and investor in Hunter.

Quinn started skiing in the 50s when his parents ran the ski shop at Belleayre, and on page 103, he describes being a ski adjuster in the 1960s from his own memories of many hours on the floor and many many people stepping on his fingers.

He started the book thinking of the ski areas that were lost, the ones like Plattekill that serve as a hub of the community but had disappeared. One of his biggest discoveries, though? Ski jumping. Not that he didn’t know it existed but that it had been so big. “Rosenadele had a major ski jump,” he explains. “There wasn’t much skiing until the 1930s but ski jumping in the 20s was huge. And the jumps drew crowds.” Hearing him talk about it, I wonder if someday 70 years down the line we might shake our heads in wonder, and, say that about the park, remember those halfpipes? They were huge back in the early twenty-teens.

Until then you can find the book in the shop and this weekend there will be a book signing during Telefest as well as a showing of United We Ski. The moving film is on small ski areas in Vermont that serve as the heart of their communities (and of skiing) from Cochrane’s and its racing legacy to to the mythic ones that have disappeared and people’s backyard tows. (The United We Ski site also features an encyclopedia of small VT ski areas…)uws