Introduction: At the Triple Point

  • David A. Lind
  • Scott P. Sanders


This volume has an enigmatic title. The concept of “skiing at the triple point” is probably the key to this book. In many sports the properties of the playing field are relatively fixed and unchanged, and they remain so during the course of the play. That is definitely not so in skiing. A peculiar circumstance of skiing that it shares with one of its near relatives, ice skating, is that skiing can only be done on a playing field whose basic physical properties change. When we ski, small changes in temperature make huge changes in the playing surface. For skiing, the playing surface is water, which in the course of a single downhill run may exist in all its phases: as a solid (ice, in the form that we call snow); as a liquid; and even in the form of water vapor, as a gas. We shall see that, in many ways, skiing works best near 0 degrees Celsius (°C) or 32 degrees Farenheit (°F), which is roughly the temperature of the triple point of water. Thus we may say that we ski at the triple point—where the three possible states of water (solid, liquid, and vapor) coexist.


Alpine Skiing Avalanche Hazard Mail Carrier Skiing Technique Recreational Skier 
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  1. 1.
    C. Fraser makes this conjecture about Hannibal in his book, Avalanches and Snow Safety (John Murray, London, 1978), p. 8.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    For an excellent narrative overview of the history of skis and skiing, see the essay by B. Lash, “The Story of Skiing,” in The Official American Ski Technique (Cowles, New York, 1970), pp. 3–130. Much of the historical discussion of skiing in the Old World that follows is generally indebted to this source.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    The definitive, scholarly historical account of skiing in America is E. J. B. Allen’s book, From Skisport to Skiing: One Hundred Years of an American Sport, 1840–1940 (University of Massachusetts Press, Amherst, 1993).Google Scholar
  4. 3a.
    See also the shorter account of J. Vaage, “The Norse Started it All,” in The Ski Book, edited by M. Lund, R. Gillen, and M. Bartlett (Arbor House, New York, 1982), pp. 194–198. The discussion that follows is generally indebted to these two sources.Google Scholar
  5. 4.
    See B. English, Total Telemarking (East River, Crested Butte, CO, 1984), p. 29.Google Scholar
  6. 5.
    For more on this and other instances of early American skiing exploits, see the essays by E. Bowen, The Book of American Skiing (Bonanza, New York, 1963), Chapters 2 and 24.Google Scholar
  7. 6.
    J. L. Dyer describes his experiences in his book, Snow-Shoe Itinerant (Cranston and Stowe, Cincinnati, OH, 1890; reprinted Father Dyer United Methodist Church, Breckenridge, CO, 1975).Google Scholar
  8. 7.
    See the essay by C. L. Walker, “A Way of Life,” in The Ski Book, edited by M. Lund, R. Gillen, and M. Bartlett (Arbor House, New York, 1982), pp. 199–205.Google Scholar
  9. 8.
    The term adventure skiing to describe skiing in remote areas supported by snowmobile or aircraft was, to our knowledge, coined by Paul Ramer of Boulder, Colorado.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • David A. Lind
    • 1
  • Scott P. Sanders
    • 2
  1. 1.University of ColoradoBoulderUSA
  2. 2.University of New MexicoAlbuquerqueUSA

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