George Quinn pens book on Catskill skiing

By Cheryl Petersen
Even if you’ve never been skiing, you can buckle into virtual reality ski boots and swoosh down slopes in the Catskills by reading the book, Skiing in the Catskill Region.
Long-time skier George Quinn’s book, is savored by non-skiers and skiers alike. Published by Arcadia last month, the book has over 200 illustrations depicting the history of skiing from the early 1900s to present time. Author George Quinn chronicled ski jumping, skier personalities, fashion, and the logistics surrounding the evolution of skiing.
“In times past, people would hook up a rope tow to a car engine and construct a ski center,” said Quinn. “Today, high speed quads, chairlifts, and sophisticated equipment are used in the ski industry.”
The book, Skiing in the Catskill Region, can be purchased online or at local ski resorts, Plattekill and Bellearye. Prices vary from $15 to $20. The 127-page book is a delightful read, showing the adventurousness of humankind. “I’ve been skiing since the 1950s,” said Quinn. “I’ve seen a lot of changes, but when researching for the book, I realized that before my time, ski jumping was very popular.”

Book research
Quinn visited historical societies, libraries, and the Quinn family photo album to compile a unified source of photos for his book. Pictures from the early years and ski-jumping era bring a smile of amazement to the reader. Large crowds, transported by trains, convened in the Catskills to watch daredevils waft through the sky before landing on ground-up ice. Between the 1920s and the ’50s, thousands of spectators watched highflying skiers.
The modern skiing scene is a little different. “A giant investment is necessary and insurance and liability impact ski centers,” said Quinn.
Not only skiers, but also prominent people are recognized in Quinn’s book. “Torger Tokle had a memorial jump named for him at Bear Mountain State Park. Instead of receiving ovations for tremendous ski jumping, Torger joined the Army in 1942, training with the 86th Mountain Division at Camp Hale, Colorado, high in the Rockies. Torger was hit by shrapnel and died on the battlefield while leading his men at Monte Terracia, Italy.”

In the early days
Transportation to the many ski centers in the Catskills was accommodated by train and vehicles. There is a picture of an engine plow clearing the tracks for skiers near Phoenicia. Today, there are only a handful of ski centers. The last chapter of the book is titled, “Gone Home”, and shows the many centers closed in the last century.
Food, entertainment, and sleeping accommodations are discussed. Pictures of astonishing resorts stand in amongst snow. Quinn also shares details encompassing cross-country skiing, hockey, and nightlife. Fashion trends are indulged as the reader can compare styles over the years.
“Clothing makes the difference,” says Quinn. “Nowadays we have hand and feet warmers.” Quinn currently works in the ski shop at Plattekill Mountain and during last week’s sub-zero temperatures, sold many facemasks.
George has skied on many slopes in the Northeast. “Wildcat Ski Center in New Hampshire reminds me of when I skied in the West,” said Quinn who has skied in Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, and Alberta, Canada. “I recommend taking your ski boots when you travel,” added Quinn. “You can rent skis rather than pack them, but your boots, you want the personalized fit.” Quinn especially enjoys hiking up trails in the Catskills and skiing the woods down.
Content on ski clubs, Belleayre and Plattekill ski centers are read with interest. Pictures show the many expansions that came with each resort. Prices, trails, and equipment broaden the history lesson on the development of skiing in the Catskill Region.