Daffies, zipperlines, ACLs – and beer
Aspen, CO Colorado
VAIL – Gunnar Moberg remembers falling during a competition, losing consciousness and waking up in the finish area.
He didn’t win. But the party that night was great.
“It was a crazy party – on painkillers and beer,” he said.
Moberg was one of about 20 veterans of the World Pro Moguls Tour of the ’80s and ’90s who reunited on Vail Mountain on Wednesday.
They recalled their old moves – backscratchers, daffies, twisters, splitsters and helicopters. And their techniques in the moguls – ripping zipperlines or taking a more curvy approach. And their injuries – lots of ACLs.
“I’ve had one back operation, I need another one and I’ve blown out a knee as well,” said Gary Pesso of Edwards, an ex-pro.
And, of course, there were parties.
“The comaraderie of these guys is one of the greatest things around,” said Jacob Brege of Avon, who started competing in the ’80s, when he was just a teenager.
But, even if they are still ski bums in spirit, many of the ex-mogulers have moved on to other, more lucrative careers.
“Initially, it was just kind of a ski bum thing, just having fun,” Brege said. “Most of us grew out of it.”
Brege is now a pilot for U.S. Airways. Pesso is a real-estate agent.
“We had a lot of fun,” Pesso said. “It was something we got to be pretty good at. … All we’d do is go and ski with our buddies, and that was our training.”
There were about five or six tour stops a year, usually around the state, including one stop at Vail on Look Ma.
“I’d stand at the top of the course and 3,000 people would scream, because I knew every one of them,” Pesso said.
The tour had lots of names over the years: the Coors tour, the Dos Equis tour, the Ford Motor Company tour, the Saab tour, the Budweiser tour. Top prizes for big tournaments could be as big as $10,000, Pesso said.
Prisca Boris of Avon said she used to set up fences for the competitions to pay for her entry and hotel room.
“It’s such a workout,” she said about mogul skiing. “There’s nothing like the rhythm.”
So how do you ski moguls well? Pesso said you need good knees and lots of flexibility.
“It’s learning how to control your speed instead of going as fast as you can,” Pesso said. “It’s learning how to make a good enough turns to control your speed through the moguls.”
Scott Rawles of Breckenridge was one of the top competitors on the tour in the ’80s. He’s now the coach of the moguls team for the U.S. Ski Team.
When Rawles competed, you weren’t even allowed to go upside down off the jumps.
“It’s pretty much a different sport (now),” he said. “If you’re not throwing two off-axis 720s, you’re not in the game.”
The elder statesman of the group was Fred Distelhorst, a local dentist who competed when he was in his late 50s and is now 78.
“The guys used to say, ‘Come on, Doc, you have to represent the older generation,'” he said.
He did, and won a few races.
“I won a case of beer and a dinner for two,” he said.
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