Recreation: Backsliding on the Slopes

In the days when most Americans thought a lift was a ride and schuss meant "Be quiet," the country's few ski slopes were as warm and friendly as the air was cold and forbidding.

Skiers considered themselves blood brothers, shared racing wax and car racks, casually draped parkas over pine boughs by the trail, and stacked their skis in the nearest snowdrift. Today, all that has changed. With 4,000,000 enthusiasts crowding into 1,200 ski areas, the sport's open-hearth atmosphere has taken on a decided chill.

Losing Their Heads. Many of the sport's new...

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