Jack TenneyExtra Point

by Jack Tenney, Publisher

December 2000

Hazing on ice

Just imagine what it would be like if we had presidential elections every two years. As it is, we might have the impeachment trial start before inauguration. Oh, well.

Another ski season is upon us or has it been officially renamed boarding season? Although I spent some of my best years in the ski industry, I didn’t come by it naturally. Having been born in Oklahoma, I was 13 years old before I ever saw ice outside a glass. I was excited to spend my first winter in New England. I remembered my father telling me of great pickup hockey games he played in his youth. Joining in the fun with my new neighborhood friends was not as easy as I had hoped.

The first thing I did was put my foot through the ice on the edge of the little pond the Luby boys (my next-door neighbors) shoveled and groomed into a rink. With my right foot frozen into the borrowed skate, my left was free to flop over at the ankle to either side while I gripped the old hockey stick as if it were the edge of a cliff. Roger Luby, the youngest of the four brothers, enjoyed whizzing by me and giving my stick a whack, which, of course, sent me sprawling.

Every time I progressed in skill level, the gang had a new and crueler initiation rite for me. Let’s see, when I could finally stand up for longer than a minute they put me at the end of a whip line, with the sole intent of propelling me to the little ice-free spillway at the brook-end of the pond. When I survived that, they let me play goalie (“Pads? We don’t need no stinking pads.”)

Years later, I found my introduction to skiing quite similar. The procedure was to take the novice to the top of an expert trail and let him go.

I really wonder if all this hazing stuff doesn’t have something to do with cold weather. I don’t recall throwing kids who couldn’t swim into the deep end of the pool or seating a little kid who hadn’t mastered bike riding on a big bike atop the longest hill and giving him a shove.
Here’s a short windup to this piece where I’m trying awfully hard not to write about the election. A friend of mine from college, Red Martin, captained the U.S. Olympic Hockey team in 1964 (it didn’t do too well). He, of course, got to keep this snazzy ski costume, which was the uniform all the winter athletes wore for the opening and closing ceremonies. When he returned to civilian life, got married, had kids, worked like a dog and all that he put all his gear away. Then he was invited skiing. As a lifelong hockey player, his first time on skis was that weekend.

His good buddies took him to the top and had many laughs as this snowplowing bunny in an Olympic uniform fell his way to bottom.