When Olaf Norrison strapped on the first pair of fig trees in 4000 B.C., no one noticed. In fact, he should have been in his basement because his parents had grounded him for taunting the Norwegians, but he crawled out through the window well, and made his escape skiing down the mountain while yelling, “I want my two dollars!” (if you are outside of the ages of 35-43, you will not get this reference).
“Do these pants look my butt look big?” Levi Strauss uttered after throwing on the only pair of boot cut jeans in existence in 1873. Aside from several UCLA students wandering California on spring break looking for gold while doing keg stands and twerking, the biggest fashion breakthrough since the loincloth went unnoticed until the latter part of the 20th century.
Putting it together
In 1982, Henry McDougall, age 27, made a multi-faceted power move unseen until Napoleon attempted to eat the “Ziggy Pig” in Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure by tossing on a pair of straight-cut, stone washed jeans and taking on the Bunny Heaven run at Wisconsin’s Wilmot Mountain (elevation: 325 feet). McDougall opened up skiing to a world of people who had no right to be skiing.
Coated in a material that was constricting and prone to retaining water, the small world of the gentle slopes of southern Wisconsin were now owned by the newcomers flush with denim. The highly specialized shops that lined the mountain selling custom-built skis bundled with an air of arrogance were replaced by rental ski stores that cycled through the masses like a lost chapter in Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle. In a sport where dressing the part overtook one’s own skill level, the mountain view turned from a white mound of snow speckled in uniquely dressed individuals to a sea of blue so uniform in its front that it was now on par the world’s 37th most powerful army.
The annual pass skier headed to difficult terrain out West so he could remain with his own kind. It was a land where only the finest breathable, wind-proof, and waterproof nylon was accepted. It was unmolested by those who took to the hills using towropes armed with one-day passes only to snow plow their way from hilltops to their 1986 Dodge Caravans parked in the free lot. And the skiing world was in harmony again.