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The Big Liftoff : Ski Dazzle '87 at L.A. Convention Center Is Guaranteed to Elevate Hopes for Snowy Slopes

November 14, 1987|JOAN SWEENEY

On what continent was the first ski club founded in 1861?

If you know the surprising answer (Australia, the Kiandra Ski Club) to that bit of esoterica, you could do well in the trivia contest at Ski Dazzle '87, the Los Angeles Ski Show at the Convention Center this weekend.

Usually the show is a harbinger of the ski season, but this year Mammoth Mountain has already opened, on Nov. 6, for limited skiing. Skiers' hopes that Southern California ski areas would quickly follow suit melted in this week's heat wave, but areas with snow-making capability talk hopefully of opening by Thanksgiving if the thermometer cooperates.

In addition to testing your knowledge of trivia at the ski show, you can look for bargains in the ski swap section, discuss the latest equipment technology with manufacturers reps or have a computer tell you, for a price ($14.95), which ski boots would fit you best. Non-skiers who would like a preview of the sport without going to the mountains can take a lesson on a ski deck.

The show runs from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. today, noon to 6 Sunday; adult admission is $6.50. Several vacation packages will be on the block at a charity auction tonight hosted by Steve Kanaly of the "Dallas" TV program to benefit the March of Dimes.

Three-time freestyle champion Genia Fuller hosts the trivia contest with questions from Mogul Mike's Ski Trivia card game, an offshoot of the Mogul Mike ski-safety program, at 2:30 p.m. today; 1:30 and 4:30 p.m. Sunday.

For bargain hunters, the show's ski swap and sale, sponsored by the Los Angeles Council of Ski Clubs, offers equipment--both new and used--and clothing. According to swap organizers, about 90% of the items are from ski shops and the remainder from individuals.

Like Looking for a Car

If you want to try to sell your old equipment at the swap, there's a 50-cent-an-item registration fee; if it sells, 20% of the price goes to the swap sponsor. The money is used to fund race clinics, handicapped skier events and other activities.

There are so many different skis, boots and bindings for every skill level from hotshot racer down to beginner that buying equipment has become rather like looking for a car. You can find models for every preference and pocketbook.

To further baffle, there are subtypes within types. For example, slalom skis are big this season, and some ski makers have up to half a dozen different models in their lines for varying abilities and tastes.

There are more skis this season specifically for female skiers, although some women may by turned off at the prospect of coming down the slope on something named Emotion or Fantasy.

One of the most intriguing concepts, in theory at least, is the Dynastar Fusion series of skis. One side of the ski is made of a more elastic material that promises greater control, stability and smoother turns in soft snow. The other is of a stiff material that provides quicker, more precise response on hardpack. Snow conditions determine which feet you wear the skis on: One way, you're ready for powder; switch skis to the opposite feet and you're set for the hard stuff.

If you're not certain which ski is right for you, it's a good idea to take a test drive. Ski shops at some areas rent demos that can be changed several times a day. Even within one ski type, various models may perform very differently from one another--and from what you expected.

Color and variety are the hallmarks of both clothes and equipment this season: skis in hot pink, teal green or splashed with lilac, turquoise or fuchsia; boots in bright blue, teal blue or lemon-yellow with orange buckles.

In clothes, neon colors and flashy prints are big. Even some gloves look like miniature abstract paintings.

Jeff Wilk, who produced the fashion show for Ski Dazzle, said a big hit among early shoppers at his store, Vail West Co. in Beverly Hills, has been a leopard print outfit that includes apres-ski boots in synthetic leopard skin. For those who yearn for warmth on the slopes, there are several models of heated boots and even a heated ski suit, a one-piece jump suit containing replaceable heat packs that are said to give off warmth for up to 20 hours before they must be replaced.

There are innovations on the slopes, too. Skiers at June Mountain in the eastern Sierra are in for a big lift--a high-speed aerial tram that will carry them from the parking lot to the chalet in four minutes. Unlike conventional trams that have one car ascending while a second is descending, this one will have 20 cars, each carrying 20 passengers.

Loading and Unloading

Pam Murphy, spokeswoman for the Mammoth and June Mountain ski areas, said the tram would operate on the same principal as the high-speed quad chairs that went into service last February at June Mountain to carry skiers to the top of Rainbow Ridge. While seven tram cars are traveling up and seven down the high-speed cable, the remainder are shuttled to a slower table for unloading and loading.

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