USC Digital Folklore Archives / Posts Tagged ‘skiing’
Customs
folk metaphor
Folk speech
general
Humor

“Yardsale!” – A Skier’s Term

Context:  I visited the informant’s dorm room at USC at about three o’clock, having already asked him if he was willing to participate in the collection project. He was willing, so we sat down to chat in his bedroom, alone. We began chatting, and I recorded two pieces from him. We sat in silence for a moment as I thought of more questions to ask him, and I remembered that he was an avid skier. I had been skiing since I was a toddler, and knew some folk terms from the practice. I asked him if he knew what a ‘yardsale’ was, and if he could describe it to me. Immediately, he recognized what I meant, and I began recording before he responded.

Transcription:

WD: What’s a yard sale in skiing?

JB: It’s like, when you’re skiing, and you eat shit, and you just lose every piece of gear.

WD: Yeah… but what happens then?

JB: So like, your skis will pop off, you definitely lose your poles, like, goggles, helmet, the whole fuckin’ deal.

WD: And then you’ve gotta figure out how to put all of it back on while on the side of a mountain?

JB: Yeah, your skis are the hard part, since they’ll  sometimes literally slide all the way down the hill, and then you gotta hike to go get it. Or, sometimes, like, fresh powder gets stuck in the bindings of your skis and you’ve gotta kick it out.

WD: And you look like a dumbass in front of other skiers, right?

JB: Exactly, sometimes people will yell “YARDSALE!” at you while they pass. You look like a fuckin’ idiot, for sure.

Informant:  The informant is an 18 year old, German-American student at the University of Southern California. He was born in Aptos, California, a small beach town located to the west of Santa Cruz. He is an avid skier, and has heard the term while skiing with friends in Mammoth, Tahoe and in Bear Valley. He has experienced this type of fall before, and knows how difficult it can be to reset your equipment in the middle of a ski run.

Analysis: This piece of folk language could also be considered as a joke. Experienced skiers tend to exalt themselves, especially when they see inexperienced skiers fall. The term “yardsale” refers to the image of all the skiing equipment scattered across the slope, like items set out for a yardsale. In practice, the phrase can be used as an insult, especially towards strangers on the slope. For example, if an inexperienced skier attempts to ride a hill outside of their skill range and loses their equipment, another more qualified skier may shout the phrase while passing. The inexperienced skier is then left in the middle of the hill, dodging other skiers while searching for their lost poles and skis. Yet, it could also be used as a form of relief in a frightening situation among friends. For example, if a pair of skiers are riding together through difficult terrain and one of them wipes out, their friend may shout the phrase to assuage any fears of injury their friend may have. Especially in a scary fall, the phrase can be used as a form of comedic relief to normalize the drastic nature of the tumble.

Folk Beliefs
Gestures
Material
Narrative
Protection

Ullr Skiing Medal

Title: Ullr Skiing Medal

Category: Magic Charm

Informant: Judith Keller

Nationality: American, caucasian

Age: Lower 70s

Occupation: Hospital Research Receptionist— Homemaker, Nurse, etc.

Residence: Fort Worth, Texas

Date of Collection: 4/09/18

Description:

An Ullr medal is a tiny figure of an Scandinavian God known as Ullr that protects skiers from harm. The medal is worn around the patron’s neck and under the skier’s jacket.

Context/Significance:

Judith Keller says that she used to wear the Ullr medal when she skied as a young girl. Her Uncle made her wear it under her normal ski clothes along with her cousins.

According to some historic accounts, Ullr was unbeatable on skis, never losing a race.  Some believe the Aurora Borealis is the snow flying off the tail of his skis.  In Germanic mythology Ullr is the main ski god of the 19th and 20th century; his character helped to establish a feeling of common identity among skiing pioneers in Norway and Central Europe, who prayed to him to insure the earth will be covered with snow, protecting it from winter’s harm.

In the United States, ski towns throw parties and parades in his honor.

Ullr medals have been popular with European skiers for over 100 years; they wear them for protection from harm while on the mountain. These medals have become highly collectible.

Personal Thoughts:

The medals are used by skiers as a token to ward off bad luck and bring protection to the wearer of the medal. The medals are apparently only produced “authentically” by one company and therefore exhibit the producer/consumer model we’ve studied of modernity in class. The medals claim to have a magical power that can protect winter sport enthusiasts. Mostly, these are used as an almost tourist item from the time spent skiing.

Annotation:

For additional history behind these medals, see:

http://www.ullrskimedals.com

MLA Citation:

“Ullr Ski Medals, Unique, Collectable, Custom Made Ski Medals. Ski Medals to Commemorate Ski Events – Ski Resort Events and Ski Resort Openings!” Ullr Ski Medals, Unique, Collectable, Custom Made Ski Medals. Ski Medals to Commemorate Ski Events – Ski Resort Events and Ski Resort Openings!, Ullr Ski Medals, www.ullrskimedals.com/.

Folk speech
Proverbs

No Friends on a Powder Day

Information on the Informant: Troy Dixon, the informant of this particular saying, is a 20 year old student who attends Lafayette college in Pennsylvania. He plays college football there and is a linebacker. Troy grew up in Santa Monica, California and attended high school in Los Angeles. Ever since he was born, Troy was an avid skier. He went up with his family to their house in Mammoth every week that was possible during the winter. Because he skied so often he became extremely skilled and became a member of the Mammoth mountain ski team. This only lasted for a few years, however, because it was such a large time commitment. However, Troy has remained an expert skier who frequently travels around California skiing the tallest and fastest mountain. This particular proverb was something he introduced to me numerous times since I met him in 2012 and something he frequently told me while we were on the mountain together.

Me: “What exactly is the proverb that you always say when you’re on the mountain and there is fresh snow?”

Informant: “The saying goes, ‘There are no such thing as friends on a powder day’.”

Me: “So what exactly does this saying mean?”

Informant: “Okay so what this means is that when there is new snow on the mountain, or ‘powder,’ as a lot of skiers and snowboarders call it, you have no friends, aka skiing the fresh snow takes priority over skiing or conversing with your friends. It pretty much means that nothing, especially not your friends, can distract you from being able to ski the amazing snow.”

Me: “Where was the first time you heard this saying?”

Informant:”My dad told me about it when I was 6 years old and when I went to the top of the mountain for the first time and skied in powder. My dad has skied for 30 years and is an expert skier so he learned it from some of his friends who he went to the mountain with over the years.”

Analysis: This saying is a traditional skiers proverb. It appears that it is one of those sayings that most people know but aren’t exactly sure of the direct origin. The informant, Troy, also stated that his father has skied all over the world and heard the saying before in other states besides California.

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