This old World Cup hat is nothing but cool
November 29, 2005
When World Cup Chief of Race Jimmy Hancock says “cool hat,” you know you’ve made the cut. For the record, Hancock said that to me back in ’99 or ’00.
Another broker of cool brought my hat up again this year. Pat Callahan, a coach with the Aspen Ski and Snowboard Club, noted it when we ran into each other at the top of Ajax the other day. He said “cool hat” or something of similar magnitude, and then went on to lament the loss of his Aspen World Cup 1981 hat.”It seemed like everyone wanted one – they went for about $20,” Pat recalled. Twenty bucks was a lot of money back then. Pat got his for sideslipping the World Cup downhill course that year as part the Aspen Ski Club. (That’s right, in 1981 Aspen was the sight of America’s Downhill, and snowboards were binding-less pieces of plastic called “Snurfers.”)
Another thing that made 1981 so special was that it was the return of World Cup skiing to Aspen. We’d hosted the races in the mid-1970s, only to lose our stake in the elite circuit during the 1976-77 drought. So in 1981, Aspen was celebrating its return.Willy Volckhausen, son of the original designer/knitter of the Aspen World Cup hat, Lulu Volckhausen, reckons there are less than 100 of the old gray-and-white caps still in circulation. “Every now and then, I see one,” Willy said. There were only a handful made that first year anyway, because no one knew how popular they would be. Over the years that followed, the wool Aspen World Cup hat became part of our FIS franchise. They are all great hats, but the fact they were made in such large quantities as to satiate status-hungry Aspenites means they have less cachet than their predecessors. My Aspen World Cup 1988 hat is a handsome piece, for example, but it has yet to bring me a single iota of adulation.
Along with being great-looking and universally admired, my 1981 hat is just as warm today as it was the first day it was pulled on, 24 years ago. You just can’t beat the quality of life or hats from the good old days. As they say: “Old school is the new new school.”Allyn Harvey’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org