Powder Days: Ski Bums, Ski Towns and the Future of Chasing Snow

Hanover Square. Nov. 2021. 352p. ISBN 9781335081117. $26.99. SPORTS
Hansman (Downriver: Into the Future of Water in the West) recalls her years as a “ski bum” with a certain wistfulness. Working for minimum wage, scanning lift tickets to have a half day of skiing, she couch-surfed and lived on Pop Tarts and beer. But, as she tells, it’s not all tales of “overindulgence and showy unlimited wealth.” She takes readers behind the scenes in ski towns, many of which have large Latinx populations who often work in the restaurants and resorts. Hansman is honest about her own privilege and how the growth of the ski industry in the 1960s led to locals being priced out of their towns in favor of wealthy second-home owners and trust-fund babies. “The snow is very white and so are the people,” she observes. They are also mostly straight, male, able-bodied, and financially sound. Skiing is an expensive pastime, somewhere between polo and golf. The author advocates for addressing ski-town racism on every level—social, economic, environmental, and political.
VERDICT Even for non-skiers, this is an entertaining and eye-opening look at the history and economics of skiing and ski resorts in the United States.
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