Leather to plastic, skiing history Essay

Long wooden skis–cumbersome planks up to 12 feet long, with leatherstraps to hold boots–were a typical sight in snowy Sierra mining campsduring the gold rush. Since then, wood and leather have given way tolightweight fiberglass and plastics. To appreciate current ski gear and conditions, take a break fromthe slopes and visit the Auburn Ski Club’s Western America SkiSportMuseum. Built in 1969 and recently expanded to 6,500 square feet, ithouses a large collection of skis, boots, clothing, photographs, andother memorabilia from the early California gold camps to the latestOlympic races.

Unique to the museum is a collection of ski films dating back to1919. You can ask to see any of them in the theater. New this winterare displays of medals, ski gear, pictures, and historic accounts of the10th Mountain Division–American soldiers who fought on skis in WorldWar II–and the U.S. Ski Team.

The museum is 20 miles northwest of Lake Tahoe; from I-80, take theBoreal Ridge ski area exit. Admission is free. November through May,hours are noon to 4 Tuesdays through Fridays, 11 to 5 weekends.

Forhours the rest of the year, call (916) 426-3313.

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