A conversation with Seth Masia, Skiing History
March 15, 2021
I think I can honestly say I have no serious regrets after 66 years. Well, ok I have a few, but they should not be put in print format, and fortunately they aren’t relevant to skiing, so you will be spared. I will admit that I occasionally ponder why I didn’t dive into the ski industry at a young age and work my way up to being general manager of Alta. But those are daydreams absent of serious regret and pass quickly when the dog barking or the phone ringing brings me back to reality. But still – I really admire those who entered the skiing world and never looked back. Their stories are certainly much more interesting than anything coming out of my 34 year law career, and, more importantly, we owe them our gratitude for keeping the spirit and industry vibrant.
One such person is Seth Masia. I spoke to Seth recently, initially thinking that I would be interviewing him solely in connection with his role as President of the International Skiing History Association and Chair of the Editorial Board of one of our favorite ski publications, Skiing History. But even a cursory online investigation tells one that there is so much more to Seth, and he did not disappoint in the interview. Seth claims he entered the industry “through the back door” since while in college he first skied when in Chamonix on a solo climbing trip in the summer of 1968. After college he helped manage the climbing department for a ski and outdoor shop in Cleveland. As soon as he could, he moved to Colorado to ski bum but eventually moved to New York and became a senior editor at Ski Magazine.
Except for a 30 month stint in the corporate world, Seth seemingly has done it all in the ski industry. He has a long history teaching skiing (Squaw Valley, Vail, and now Snowmass) and has a unique perspective on how the technological advances of the ski industry (non wooden skis, plastic boots, shaped skis, etc.) changed the art of teaching skiing. In fact, he has direct experience in developing ski technology, having worked with K2 developing their first line of shaped skis. His ski travels convinced him that climate change is adversely affecting skiing and, armed with a master’s degree in environmental journalism, he has become involved in efforts to battle climate change. More recently, he has established a blog called SkiYoungerNow focused on low-torque, low-impact skiing techniques.
Given his long intimate involvement in the ski industry and his background in journalism it should come as no surprise that he is a driving force in the publication, Skiing History. A good friend who shares our passion for the sport gave us a subscription to Skiing History magazine last year. The publication is the official journal of the International Skiing History Association and is published bimonthly. In addition to the printed publication, they have a robust online presence at Skiing History that includes access to everything in the printed magazine plus a deep dive into all things related to the history of skiing. Both the magazine and the website are essential resources for any passionate skier regardless whether one is a history buff or not.
Let’s take the most recent issue of Skiing History as an example. In addition to industry news about Robert Redford selling Sundance and certain other pioneers in the industry, this issue has very interesting articles on various aspects of skiing history. One article chronicles the crazy ski promotions of the past – Sugarbush landing a plane on the Snowball trail; Billy Kidd skiing on a ribbon of crushed ice in Central Park for the Today Show; and a cow poop throwing event pitting ski reps against retailers at a ski industry association gathering (yep folks, you read that right – cow poop).
Each issue is a mix of history of places and people that shaped the ski world we know today. The Jan/Feb issue recounts the history of Mt Otsego near Cooperstown NY. The issue includes an educational article by Seth about the evolution of steel edges and locked-down heels in the early 30’s and the resultant alpine skiing revolution. In addition there are articles on luminaries in the ski world – the Eaton racing family of the 60s and Walter Mosauer, who was instrumental in developing skiing in southern California in the 1930s.
Check it all out by subscribing to the magazine and online at Skiing History.
Photos courtesy of Ivan Wagner, Swiss Academic Ski Club, via Seth Masia.