Among sports, skiing seems to have a special holiday quality, perhaps because it requires snow—a symbol of the holiday season even in those parts of the country where there isn't likely to be any. But there are other reasons. Unsuitable for most backyards, skiing for most of the nation's 2½ million skiers calls for the time to travel to the places where the valleys and the mountain slopes are white. And the closing of schools for Christmas vacation has become one of the signals during the past 20 years for an ever-growing number of skiers to take to the hills and get the season started in earnest.
One place they'll be heading for in the East is the elaborate ski center around Stowe, Vermont. In this issue SPORTS ILLUSTRATED presents a portrait of Stowe, the place and the people, the runs and the lifts. This is the first of a continuing series of SI visits to the world's ski resorts. Others already scheduled are in Japan and in Oregon at the Timberline Lodge. This issue also marks the 1955 debut of the SNOW PATROL, which will be a weekly meeting place for skiers, including reports on snow depths and recent snowfalls, expanded this year to include the kind of shop-talk you're likely to pick up in the lodge at the end of the descent about races, carnivals, crowds and the latest changes and experiments in equipment. A new feature is the weekly SKI TIP, aimed at alleviating such ski problems as "chattering" on turns, "swimming" at high speeds and "reading" snow.
The high point of this ski season is of course the Winter Olympics at Cortina (Jan. 26-Feb. 5) and SI's reporters and photographers will be there. They have already thoroughly scouted the site. Next week's issue will have four pages in color of the town, the surrounding mountains and Cortina's SPORTING LOOK, as well as suggestions on things to do besides watch the Games; our Jan. 30 issue will appear on the opening day with a color gallery of contenders and PREVIEW, detailing the events, courses, prospects and what to watch for.
The accompanying drawing, from a photograph SI's Jerry Cooke made of the cable car to the start of the giant slalom race at Cortina, is on the Christmas card we sent this year to subscribers who received SI as a Christmas gift. To them, to skiers and to all our readers—holiday greetings from all of us at SPORTS ILLUSTRATED!