Book: The Story of Modern Skiing

You can't call yourself a dedicated skier without having read John Fry's The Story of Modern Skiing (University Press of New England, $28). It's simply one of the most thorough and diligently written books on the heritage of skiing. Inside are the stories of the creators of modern skiing, the chronicles of the evolution of equipment and technique, and the tales of how the various skiing "disciplines" came to be.

And although these histories of the "mechanics" of skiing are interesting and masterfully compiled, what is more compelling is Fry's analysis of the cultural and industrial aspects of skiing. Among other things, Fry—who is the former editor-in-chief of SKI magazine and a member of the U.S. National Ski Hall of Fame—argues that snowboarding "rescued the industry from business disaster" and contends that, despite multimillion-dollar advertising campaigns in the 1990s, the industry still picks up new skiers the old-fashioned way: by getting existing skiers to introduce the sport to nonskiers. Fry also explores skiing's presence in the media, the creation of "resort culture," and the sport's effects on everything from retailing to ecology to real estate prices. All in all, The Story of Modern Skiing lives up to its name.