Dan “Moon Dog” Mooney2019-03-01T16:40:56-06:00

Dan “Moondog” Mooney

His story

 

“Oh ach de liebe THE RACE by

Dan Mooney

 

 

Dedicated to the Memory of Bob Beattie

 

Part 1:

 

In late winter of 1972  I was 21 years old.  Acouple of years earlier I had fought my way onto a spot on the US Ski Team with my sights on the ‘72 Winter Olympicsto be held in February of that year in Sapporo, Japan.  It was now March, the Olympics had come and gone and I simply did not make the final cut, Coach’s decision I was told, but that did not heal the hurt and frustration I was feeling. I deserved to be on that team.

 

So, I was in Bend, Oregon for the US National Championships on Mt. Bachelor and was not feeling very enthusiastic.  The next Olympics were 4 years away. I wondered whether the team would carry me for 4 more years.  There were many fine, younger skiers coming up through the ranks and inthe eye of the ski team I would be an old man by 1976.  Did I want to commit 4 more years to an organization that didn’t have much faith in me?  To make matters worse, I was not skiing well.  I was starting to get that sinking feeling that I was atthe end of my ski racing career and I saw nothing on the horizon to make me feel differently.

 

At the slalom race at Mt. Bachelor I disqualified on my first run and would not get a second run (in slalom you take two runs and combine your times to determine the winner). We were staying at the Inn of the 7th Mountain, so I caught a ride down the hill while the rest of the ski team were still racing, I found myself alone in our condo contemplating my future.  I was sipping on a beer, casually thumbing through the latest issue of ski racing magazine and not paying particular attention to its contents. Then I turned the pageand staring me in the face was a full page ad promoting the last two pro races of the season being held the next week in Steamboat Springs,  and  Vail, Colorado.

 

  •   Pro ski racing was in its infancy, having been started a couple years earlier by Bob Beattie, who was best known as being the head coach for the men’s ski team in the 1964 and 1968 winter  He was also a commentator for ABC Wide World of Sports and along with Frank Gifford, called the epic 1976 downhill run by Franz Klammer at the Innsbruck  Olympics. The pro tour was starting to take off with  a completely different format than  amateur  racing where one racer goes down one course at a time. The fastest time wins. In the pros there are two identical courses set side by side, 12 feet apart  with jumps built into the courses. Racers compete head-to-head and winners are determined by simple elimination.  I said to myself “Ya, pro ski racing, that could be the ticket!”.

     Bob “Beats” Beattie had already recruited some Olympic team members for the tour, including Spider Sabich, Hank Kashiwa, and Tyler Palmer. Of the three, I knew Tyler best.  Spider was the only one of the three that was doing anything on the tour, having won the overall title the year before. In my heart I wasn’t ready to quit ski racing, I just thought there was something bigger in racing  for me.  I didn’t know what it was, but  I was only 21 and I wanted more. Be careful what you wish for.

 

     I somehow tracked down Bob Beattie by phone that afternoon. I told him of my intentions to leave the ski team and come to Steamboat. He was quite clear that I was welcome, but I would have to pay $100 to join the Professional Ski Racers Association. And just because I was coming from the ski team I would be shown no favoritism.I would have to go through all the preliminary qualifying heats before I would be ceded into the money round. That turned out to be 4 races before I qualified.  He made it perfectly clear that Hank and Tyler, just off the Olympic team, were struggling with the pro format.  Bob and I had met a few times and I knew him enough to know  he was giving me the straight story. I thought about it for a few minutes, did the pro and con comparisons, came up with a lot of pros and damn few cons and so it was  onward and upward to the pros.

 

    I had just one small hurdle to overcome. I needed to get to Colorado from Oregon and had about $10 to my name.I figured it was going to take $300 to get to Steamboat, pay the association fees and  leave me a little left over for food and a beer. The only person I could ask for that type of a loan was my motherwho was born and raised in Germany, prior to and during WW2. She met and married my dad, an American GI,  at the end of WW2 in 1946. My parents divorced when I was 14 and she was old school German. I knew that she would want me to go back to school if I left the ski team. Plus the Vietnam War was in full swing and if I didn’t go back to school I would lose  my student draft deferment. I knew this was not going to be an easy phone call, so I practiced my story a few timesbefore making  the call.

 

    We started out exchanging typical pleasantries and I started to bring her up to speed on what I was doing, telling her about the pro tour and how I wanted to go to “Steam….”. That’s as far as I got, I didn’t even get to say “Boat” before hearing an emphatic “NO!”and an ear-full about ski racing as a dead endstreet and how I need to get back to school before I lose my deferment.  She would not let it go. I received a verbal tirade about Vietnam, how the whole “pro ski” thing was  a big scam, that I was now 21 and needed to grow up and get serious about my life and that there is no way in hell she was going to loan me a dime to go “traipsing” across the country to this  “Oceanboat” place to go ski race. I politely corrected her and said “It is Steamboat” and then I proposed that she let me go and if I failed I would make a bee line to Denver and register for spring quarter with plenty of time to not lose my deferment, which was true. So now, there was silence on the other end.  I held my breath. Then she said,  “Oh ach de liebe (“Oh dear” in English) Danny, you are the wild one in the family.”  She always called me Danny. She reluctantly agreed on the condition I pay her back and that if I fail in Steamboat I go straight to Denver and register for school.

    In the course of about 3 hours I transitioned from US Ski Team member to Pro Ski Racer, all because Bob Beattie put that ad in ski racing magazine.If I hadn’t seen that ad, this probably wouldn’t have happened.

 

Part 2:

 

    That night in Bend I went around and thanked my coaches and told them my intentions to turn pro. They were all very supportive and wished me luck. Then I went to the condo and sat around with the guys, drinking beer, talking about places we’ve been, and people we’ve met. We were our own little band of brothers. We all had each other’s back.When they found out I didn’t have enough money for my bus ticket to Reno, they passed the hat and got me enough to get me there.

 

    Early the next morning my good buddy Ken Corrock drove me to the bus station. We shook hands, he hugged me, wished me luck and I got on the bus to Reno, Reno to Salt Lake and then Salt Lake to Steamboat. I arrived in Steamboat on Wednesday afternoon, got signed up and was told my first round of qualifiers was Thursday morning. In pro racing you don’t get to the money round until you’re down to 16 racers, and there are  over 100 skiers trying to make it to the  group of 16. You have eliminations, and when  you’re just starting out you start at the bottom.

Funny thing happened when I got to Steamboat  —— my skiing just clicked, I was on FIRE.The first round I had the fastest time. I had a Thursday afternoon qualifying and I won that race too. People started  to notice, including Beattie. He came up to me after the second qualifying round and Beats said that I was looking really good. I started to think this pro racing thing might just work. On Friday it gets tougher.  It’s called the “Friday Afternoon Club”.

At this point it’s down to 50 skiers trying to qualify for those 16 spots. The 16 that move on join another 16 top seated skiers from previous races for Saturday morning qualifying. On Saturday and Sunday morning those 32 skiers race for a final 16 spots. If you make it through that you’re finally in the money round. I aced the Friday qualifying and “Oh ach de liebe” made the round of 16. I was in the moneyround after 4 qualifying races. I was skiing really, really well.  All of a sudden, ski racing was fun again. I was hanging with my friend Tyler Palmer and everything was clicking.

Pro races consist of two events, a Giant Slalom on Saturday and a Slalom on Sunday. On Saturday in the Giant Slalom I made it to the quarterfinals. On Sunday I did even better and made it all the way to the semi finals.  In two days I made about $1,500.I went to Vail the next week and made another $500.  $2,000 in two weeks, I was in heaven, had done what I wanted to do, made a name for myself at the pro level and had momentum going into the next year. All the years I was on the ski team I skied on K2’s, which I used in those two pro races.  So I felt my best chance for a sponsor the next year would be K2.

I paid my mom back the $300, never went back to college, ended up in the first lottery for the draft and got a high number, almost 300, which kept me out of the military.  After the Vail race, Tyler and I decided to splurge. We flew to the Bahamas for 2 weeks, first class of course.

 

Part 3:

 

    The season was over; I had made a markand was pumped for the next year.  Solid finishes in the last two pro races gave me a good track record and a good chance at a sponsorship for the next year.

    I went back to Squaw Valley for the summer. I had grown up there and had a lot of friends who were involved with ski racing. One was Warren Gibson, coach for the Squaw Valley junior ski teamwho  had put together an amazing  summer training program.  I decided my best course of action was to stay in Squaw, concentrate on getting sponsored and work out with Warren and his ski team, all of whom were in high school.

     My idea of summer training was a little jogging,  a little soccer,  a few hikes and  maybe work up a civilized sweat once in a while.  Warren had a completely different version of what summer training should be.

    First he got me into cycling. In  1972 cycling was not nearly as popular as it is today, so this was new for me. We found a really nice, used 10 speed and every morning at 7 a.m. we rode from Squaw Valley to Truckee High School. I learned about the Peloton  (the group), slipstreaming, riding in a group, having your front tire inches from the person in front of your  back tire, proper shifting of gears, and  riding hard, all out. When we got to Truckee, we would drop the ones that had school and ride back to Squaw, hard! This was about 30 miles round trip. Warren considered this simply a morning warm up. Around 2 in the afternoon, we would drive to Truckee High where Warren made a deal with the school to use their universal weight machines.  This consisted of 10 different stations where you would do a specific exercise. We would do 10 reps at each station.  But before we did weights, we did a 5-mile run, which allegedly was our“afternoon warm up”. Then we walked down to the football and track field where Warren   informed us that on Monday and Wednesday we would do weights and on Tuesday and Thursdays we would do sprints. Then he told us the sprints would consists of 10 440’s (a 440 is a full lap around the track), to be followed by 10 220’s (a 220 is half a lap around the track) with a one minute rest period between laps. If you didn’t complete your lap in the allotted time, you would get a bonus lap.

Well, I had finally heard enough and politely interrupted him, saying,  “What the fuck, Gibson?! I want to make it to next winter. You have us riding 30 miles every morning, then we do a 5 mile run in the afternoon.  Any sane person would call it a day after those two alone. But now you’re going to throw in the sprints and weight lifting. No one is going to do this under your ridiculous guidelines.”  Warren was a great and smart coach.  After he heard my protest he blew his whistle and had everyone take 5. He came jogging over to me, clipboard and all, and like a father who is about to have a serious talk with his son, put his arm over my shoulder and said “walk with me.”  He starts out by saying, “Now listen, Moondog, I can see where you might think this is a little over the top but I don’t just make this up.I did a lot of research on this and it’s a proven fact if you stick with this, you will be in the best shape of your life. Now I hear that Jean Claude Killy is going to join the pro tour this year, is that true?” “That seems to be the rumor”, I answered. Warren then said, “Do you want to get in starting gate against him and not be in the best physical condition possible?” I said, “What, me race Killy head to head?That will never happen.” Warren responds, “But what if it does? How many gold medals in the winter  Olympics, what was it, 3?” Oh shit.  Did he have me?  So as I start doing my 10 440’s and my 10 220’s I came to realize you can describe his training philosophy with 3 letters, P T A, Pain,Torture, and Agony.And just to put the icing on the cake, on Fridays we did both weights and sprints. Friday’s became known as  “Black Friday”.

Just to give you an idea, after each sprint  we would collapse to the ground gasping for air and Warren would blow his whistle and say “30 Seconds!”. Somehow we would get up, stagger to the start, then he would intone,  “10 seconds… 5 seconds…” and we would do another 440. The pain was unreal. It was at this point I came to the conclusion it was going to be a long summer and fall.

 

Part 4:

 

    The first part of June I made my call to Gordy Eaton, Director of Racing for K2. I knew Gordy quite well and I thought this was going to be a relatively easy phone call. After exchanging the usual pleasantries I went right into my spiel about why K2 should sponsor me. He listened politely and then explained that it was still too early in the year and no decision has been made, but he would be happy to throw my hat in the ring and to call back in July. I fell for his delaying tactics, hook-line and sinker, and agreed to call back in July.

    Toward the middle of June I got a call from Bob Beattie asking if I could come to Aspen for 3 days to help with a promotionfor the next year’s  pro tour. He was getting all the Colorado TV and News Papers together for a press conference to unveil next year’s schedule and wanted as many racers there as he could get. I jumped at the opportunity, ANYTHING to get out of doing those damn sprints. Plus, I was honored that he even considered me.

  • I went to Aspen and  my good buddy Tyler Palmer is there as well. I immediately start trying to convince him to come back to Squaw Valley with me, that I was working out with this lunatic coach who had an  amazing program  and he needed to get on board with me. Much to my joy he agreed to come back with me. When he got to Squaw, and saw the enormity of the program, he too protested to Warren. But Warren had the gift of gaband had Tyler on board in less than 5 minutes.

I called K2 in July and got the same answer.  I was so desperate to get a contract, I didn’t want to believe I was getting the runaround. I called K2 in August and again in September with the  same answer.  Then it got interesting. Tyler was being managed by Bob Beattie and it was common knowledge that Rossignol was putting together a team of skiers from different countries. They needed an American becausethe pro tour was an American inventionand we did all of our competitions in the US and Canada. It was common knowledge that American was going to be Tyler Palmer.

    Around the middle of September it was announced that Jean Claude Killy was  coming out of retirement and would be the captain of the Rossignol team. Knowing that Tyler was locked in with Rossignol, I didn’t approach them about sponsorship, still believing that K2 was my best bet.

By  the first of October I had grown  a backbone and  called K2 and got them to come clean. With less than 2 months before the first race,  I got hit with a bombshell:  “The truth of the matter Dan, is that we have no intention of expanding our pro program.We have Spider and that’s who were going to run with. Our advice to you is to start looking for someone else besides K2 to be your sponsor.”  I was furious! If I had been told this in June I would have actually had time to find  a sponsor.I felt like I had been kicked in the gut by a horse. I had no sponsor, the first race was around the corner and it was too late in the season to find one. After a couple days of some serious phone calls and brainstorming it became quite  clear I was up a creek without a paddle. I had a couple  of small offers, but nothing  close to getting me through a  season.

Bob had put together an impressive schedule running from Thanksgiving into April. It was beginning to look like I was going to have to go in as an independent and hope to have some good early results and some  sponsor  picks me up. A long shot, at best. I was extremely disappointed, frustrated, mad and hurt.  It was like a dark cloud was over me, and I couldn’t shake it.  After weeks of desperately trying to put something together, I resigned myself to the fact that this is how it was going it be. I had  lost all hope, hadpursued every possibility, and then when you least expect it, out of nowhere  the phone rings.

It’s Bob Beattie calling for Tyler to tell him that Lange has come up with a much better offer than Rossignol.  So, he is killing the deal with Rossignol and moving forward on the Lange deal. When Tyler told me this I looked at him with complete disbelief. “You’ve got to be shitting me!” I said. “This opens up a glimmer of hope for me. With you off the Rossignol deal, they have to replace you and it has to be an American, and only 3 people know about this, you, Beats, and me.”The first race was in 30 days.  Can I possibly pull this off?  I asked myself. 

Without hesitation I phoned Rossignol, and it was my lucky day. I got the director or racing, Gerarde Rubuox, on the phone.  I had met Gerarde once and introduced myself and he was nice enough to tell me he knew me. I didn’t waste any time and explained to him how I’ve been trying to get a sponsor and that Tyler has just signed with Lange, which means he  needed an American to fill that spot. “With three weeks till the first race, I am calling to let you know, I’m your guy,” I said. There was a long silence and then he said, “No, Tyler is skiing for us”.  I said, “Oh con trai mon ame, (Au contraire, mon ami) in about 15 minutes you’re going to find out what I just told you is true”. He said, “Ok, this is all news to me, let me make a few phone calls and I will call you back in half an hour.”

 

I hung up.  Tyler asked,  “Well what’d he say, what’d he say?”  I replied,  “He said he will call me back in half an hour.” Sure enough, in half an  hour  the phone rings. “Hello Dan, this is Gerarde, it seems your information is correct. Yes, at this time we are going to have to replace Tyler with another American. Is that American you?I can’t say yes or no. The first race is in 3 weeks, we need to find someone soon. I will certainly put you in for consideration, but I must consult with some other people before I make a final decision. Today is Thursday, I will call you back on Monday afternoon with my decision.”  I said, “Ok, talk to you on Monday” and hung up. Then I realized, Monday, shit, that’s 4 days from now. I’ve got to wait 4 days before I find out. This is going to be the longest 4 days of my life. And they were.

 

I drove Tyler crazy with every possible scenario that Rossignol could come up with. It was pure torture.   On Monday afternoon Gerarde called  me. So, the conversation went something like this. “We know about your strong finishes last spring. You were on the US Ski Team for a couple of years. So, you have talent, but how much talent? Can you maintain top 3 finishes throughout an entire season, or are you a one hit wonder? Do well in one race, then take your contract money and fade away? You’re the first one to approach us, so, with only 3 weeks until the first race, this is what we will do. The team is in Vail now training. We will send you to Vail, pay your expenses. You will stay with the team and train with the team. We will provide you with equipment. We will pay for all your expenses through the first two races. If you place 3rd or better in the first 2 races, we will award you a full contract. If you don’t, you’re on your own.”  I sat in stunned silence, trying to make sense of it all. The bottom line was, this was as good as it was going to get. I had no choice.   If I don’t take this, I have nothing. So, with all the confidence of having no other options,  I said, “Ok Gerarde,  you’ve got a deal,3rd or better”. He said, “Fine. I am going to put you on with my secretary and she will make your travel arrangements.”    When I hung up Tyler asked,  “What’s going on, what’s going on?”  I told him, “I just made a deal with the devil, and I’m going to Vail”.

 

That was the end of our Summer and Fall in Squaw Valley, and a couple of things stick in my head. If I hadn’t run into Tyler in Aspen, I wouldn’t have been with him when he found out about the Lange deal.I believe  the reason Rossignol offered me a shot was because of my timing, as  I was  on the phone to Gerarde even before he knew about it. And, son of a buck, Warren Gibson was right. By the time we left for Colorado  we were in the best shape of our lives.We could ride bikes all day, run long distance all day, run sprints all day, push weights all day  and not be tired. If you  read  this, Warren ( Hoot), thanks. You were right and you helped get us there.  I will never forget running 440’s in the dark, with our cars up on the track with the lights on so we could see where we were going. Great, great stuff.

 

Part 5:

 

    I found myself in Vail, Colorado, plucked by Rossignol from the depths of despair and given a breath a new life. I found myself in the company of Jean Claude Killy, Alain Penz, Pierre Poutenobole, all  from France,  Otto Tschudi from Norway,  Malcolm Milne from Australia and  myself. Jean Claude  came up to me and introduced himself, as he had been appraised of my status. I knew Otto pretty well, but no one else. For two weeks we trained. I  tried to stay out of the way and keep a low profile. Oh, Man, was I nervous, but I hung in there and by the time we left for Aspen for the first race I was feeling pretty good.

 

    Finally, it was time, the first race of the year.  Giant Slalom was on Saturday, Slalom  on Sunday. I had two chances and had to make at least the semi finals to get third. It wasn’t going to be easy.   There were a lot of good skiers there. So, I had no problem making it into  the round of 16. In my first heat I walked out of my binding and disqualified.  One chance gone, three to go.

 

The next day in the slalom I qualified, but fell in the first round. Ugh, I couldn’t afford mistakes. Aspen was a bust and I left frustrated but not defeated. I was skiing well and  just needed a few breaks to go my way. The next week on Saturday in Vail I didn’t get one and skied out of the course in the round of 16.  I had one chance left, the Slalom on Sunday, and Slalom was not my event.

 

This was it, Sunday morning.  I could feel the pressure before I even got out of bed. I kept saying to myself, “You can’t make mistakes today, you have to ski perfect, you have to go after it, you have to concentrate.”   I made it through the morning qualifying and into the round of 16. Ican’t remember who I skied against in the round of 16, but I beat him and was now in the round of 8, the  quarter finals. Still not home free. I can’t remember who I raced against in the quarter finals, but I skied good, made no mistakes, concentrated and won.  I was in the semi finals with  4 racers left, myself, Tyler Palmer, Spicer Sabich, and Jean Claude Killy.I was matched against Tyler and Spider against Killy. The losers go on to race for 3rd and 4th place, the winners go on to the finals and race for 1st and 2nd.  Tyler, a slalom specialist, had won a World Cup slalom in Kitzbuhel, Austria earlier that year. He grew up in New Hampshire where all they do is  practice Slalom on boiler plate ice.  I skied good, but he took me and moved on to the finals and  I was either going to race Spider or Killy for 3rd or 4th place.  I watched Spider and Killy go at it in their semi final round, and low and behold,  Spider beat Killy.  3rd place was now a gimme. I was going to have to race the greatest ski racer up to that time who had won  3 gold medals in the  Olympics,   the Muhammad Ali  of ski racing. When I was in high school, he was my idol. Not only that, I was going to get one chance, and  one chance only, and Slalom was not my strong event. What did I say to Gibson that afternoon? Me race Killy head to head?  That will never happen. “Be careful what you wish for.”

 

I slowly started to make my way to the lift for the ride to the start. As the chair came around and I was just about to sit down, out of nowhere comes Tyler and sits down next to me.  and we head up the hill.  He says to me, “Moon Dog, listen to me carefully because I’m only going to have time to say this once. This is the race you’ve been waiting all your life for. You can beat him.  He doesn’t know who you are. He doesn’t know you ran 10 million 440’s this summer. You can surprise him. You can do this. This is your moment. This is your race. He is in your house. You need to beat him out of the start, go into the first jump ahead of him or neck and neck. You do that, and you’ve got a shot at the deal.” He made me a believer.

 

The start was quite a scene. Reps, coaches, racers who had been eliminated and  officials, were all at the start.  No one wanted to miss this. There were 5,000 people along the course and in the finish area. Beattie had loud speakers set up along the course and he was announcing, and he was good at working up a crowd. So, it was time. The start has two horse race like starting gates 12 feet apart. Racers step into a box like structure and the gates open simultaneously.  I stepped into the start with the worst case of butterflies in the history of mankind. Beattie was working the crowd. “Ladies and Gentlemen, let me set the stage for the upcoming semi final race for 3rd and 4th place,On the blue course, from Squaw Valley, California straight off the US Ski Team, racing his first full year on the pro tour is 21 year old Dan “Moondog” Mooney. In the red course , from Val D’isere, France, is triple  Olympic gold medal winner  Jean Claude Killy.What must being going through young Dan Mooney’s mind as he steps in the start to race Jean Claude Killy, 3 gold medals in the olympics. That’s not all, if Mooney beats Killy here, Rossignol is prepared to give the Moon Dog a full contract. 4th place he stays independent. Talk about pressure. OK, the courses are clear and the racers are ready”.

 

    When that gate opened, I shot out like a cannon, getting an early lead. First gate, second, then third…. I could feel his presence right on me. We hit the first jump side by side and as we made our way to the second jump, he took a slight lead. We hit the second jump and we both sprinted to the finish. Killy took the first run by 2/10th of a second, not a huge lead. Going back up the lift, Tyler was pumping me big time. “See, he’s not so bad, he’s not so bad. 2/10th of a second, you’ve got him!  He’s nervous; he didn’t expect you to be so close! Nail him out of the start again, get to the first jump, and turn on the afterburners”.

 

For the second run we switched courses, and as I move into the starting gate and  we are getting ready I’m pounding my ski poles in the snow and taking deep breaths.  I looked over at Killy. To my surprise, he was standing there looking at me and I swear I saw fear in his

eyes.  At that moment I said in a real loud voice so everyone could hear me “Ok, let’s do this!”. I think the starter may have been quietly rooting for me, because he then says, “Mr. Mooney has indicated he would like to proceed with the second run, do we have a clear course? Racers ready?”

 

When those gates opened, it was game on and clear that Killy had no intention of me beating him. And me? Well, I had something to prove.We raced like two men possessed,   hitting gates, taking chances.   We hit the first jump neck and neck. As we made our way through the middle of the course itseemed more like a slug fest than a ski race.  As we approached the second jump, I made a move on him and I took a slight lead. As we got to the second jump I increased my lead to about half a ski length, just enough so I could no longer see him in my line of sight. I landed off the second jump and I just focused on the finish, 5 gates to go. I put everything I had into it and then some.  I crossed the finish line, looked over my shoulder to see where he was.   No Killy. I came to a stop. The finish area was eerily quiet and Beattie wasn’t saying anything on the PA. I looked up the hill and  there between the second jump and the finish was Killy, standing on the hill putting his ski on. Then Beattie comes on the PA, “Ladies and Gentlemen, I have the official ruling from the Chief of  Course, Jean Claude Killy landed wide off the second jump, hooked a tip, and missed a gate, officially disqualifying. Mooney takes 3rd! Mooney takes 3rd! Mooney has done it, he has upset Killy and taken 3rd place!”  I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Tyler was the first one to me. He wrapped his arms around me and slapped me on my back. “You did it Moondog, you fucking did it! You pulled it off! You fucking pulled it off! You son of a bitch! When did you become a Slalom skier?

 

A crowd  gathered around me. I had press and TV people asking me all these questions. How did I do it? What was my strategy? Etc. I was really speechless. Then working his way through the crowd coming towards me was Jean Claude. As  he approached me people stepped aside to give him room. He came right up to me, put out his hand to shake mine, and said, “Congratulations Dan, today you skied like a true champion. You deserved to win, welcome to the team”.  I think I said thank you, or at least lipped it. And with that he left the finish area. I looked at Tyler and said, “He said welcome to the team didn’t he?” Tyler goes, “Yes indeed Moon Dog, that’s what he said. You just got endorsed by the man himself. Way to go.”

    After the podium Gerarde came up to me and said, meet me at my hotel room around 5. So at 5 p.m. I knocked on his door. He welcomes me in and has me sit down. Then he hands me a contract and says read this over and if you’re in agreement then sign it. On it, it says, “Rossignol Ski Company is to pay Dan Mooney $15,000 to race on the 72’-73’ world pro ski tour. Rossignol will pay all travel expenses, will provide all equipment and clothing…”As I  was reading this, I couldn’t help but to flash back to the condo in Bend where this whole crazy roller coaster ride began, and the confluence of events that had to occur to get me to this moment. I just kind of started shaking my head. Then Gerarde goes., “Is there a problem, you are shaking your head?”. “Oh, no, no, there is no problem, I was just thinking… oh never mind Gerarde there is no problem at all…”. So, I took a deep breath, picked up the pen and as I signed my name I had only one thought, “Moondog, you’re going to the show.”

 

The End.

 

Editor’s Note: I skied on the World Pro Skiing tour for 6 more years. Ours was a wild, crazy, nutso lifestyle. To be young, single, traveling the world, ski racing and making money at it was a very special time in my life. TYLER PALMER, I LOVE YOU.