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Wool

This story begins with a sheep. A ewe, to be more precise. It begins with this sheep, this sheep named, uh, Fluffina, on the pampas of Argentina, or Peru, or Chile. It begins as a blustery day, there on the pampas, when a gaucho named Santiago rounds up Fluffina and her fellow sheep and herds them from the pampas to the stockade of el rancho. Fluffina was sorely afraid. “I’m mutton now,” she thought. But, no: It was the shears for Fluffina, not the guillotine.

Within a very short time, Fluffina was separated from her wool and, denuded, sent back to the pampas, where she lived a long and uneventful life that had nothing to do with skiing. Her wool, on the other hand, was sent by truck to the nearest town, where it was spun into yarn, simple, scratchy yarn. This yarn was then dyed in all the colors of the rainbow—beige, brown, tan, earth—and sent by another truck to another town, where a tiny, wizened old Argentinean or Peruvian or Chilean woman named Dolores-Tatiana knitted with wrinkled hands and ancient needles by candlelight to create a hat: a simple, scratchy hat of the pampas.

The hat, clean of line and humble of origin, made its way north, all the way to Whitewater, British Columbia, where it fell into the hands of a skier/model/photographer named Dave Heath. It was everything Dave ever wanted in a hat: It was warm and it was…well, it was warm.

One day, Dave was skiing powder with his friend and fellow photographer, Mark Gallup. It was a sunny day, the kind of day that photographers spin into dollars shooting photos of bright and squeaky models. But Dave is not bright and squeaky, and he showed up that morning in mismatching clothes, with duct tape on his finger, and, of course, the dingy brown hat on his head.

The hat…in the end, it was the hat that put that photo of Dave on this month’s cover. As we debated over possible cover shots, the hat came to represent everything that was right and true in skiing. Function over fashion. Not a whiff of commercialism. Real skiing.

It wasn’t just the hat, of course, but what the hat, combined with the mismatching clothes, the duct tape, and the top-of-the-line equipment, said about Dave’s priorities. It was the emphasis on good equipment, not good looks. On performance, not poof.

Your priorities are probably just as in order as Dave’s, and if they include new ski equipment, you’ll find it here. Turn the pages and you’ll also find a philosophical exploration of why we ski, a fun feature on Kirkwood, 10 pages of killer tree photos, a new monthly opinion column, and a new product review column. In here, too, are wool hats, some figurative, some literal, and some with their very own Fluffina, standing proud, there on the pampas. Enjoy.

First published in Powder Magazine, issue 21.1, September 1992. Copyright Steve Casimiro 2001. All rights reserved.

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