Thursday, April 3, 2008

The Spoon; A Ski Master Tradition

The Story of the "Spoon"

When introduced during the 1988 trip to Kitzbuhle, Austria, who could have anticipated the ubiquitous wooden spoon could grow to be such a revered and, by some, feared symbol of the Ski Master’s trips. This simple, wooden kitchen implement, inspired by the 88 Winter Olympics, quickly took on a life of it’s own and became a social ice breaker of the highest order.

That year, at the Calgary Olympics, the world was introduced to Eddie Edwards, an inept British ski jumper who didn’t come close to winning any medals. He did, however, win fame and a small fortune thanks to his complete lack of skill and lovably goofy nature. Nicknamed “the Eagle,” he dropped into the public view and was one of the most popular athletes to compete in the games. He also served as the inspiration for the wooden spoon award that was presented by Ron and Lenore to the first, long forgotten, recipient in Kitzbuhle.

While conceived as a way to recognize unsung achievements by trip participants it has evolved into a coveted emblem that is awarded in accordance with vague, unwritten rules the most important of which is “there are no real rules.” This flexibility allows it to adapt to a wide range of situations, events, recipients and the overall mood of the trip.

The process is simple. At the beginning of a trip the spoon is awarded by the trip leader to a worthy recipient. That recipient, in turn, stays on alert for a “spoonable event” during the next day and hopefully awards the spoon to a new holder at dinner that day. If the spoon holder does their job they never have to wear the spoon more than 24 hours. If they fail to find a spoonable event they risk getting stuck with it a second day. However, with such loose rules, it is rare that some excuse can’t be conjured up, even if the spoon holder has to make up a good story. (Remember, we said there were no rules.)

The spoon has been awarded for a wide range of incidents, some serious, most not. Consider the following examples”
· Male recipient misread an Italian rest room sign and tied up the single stall women’s room, much to the chagrin of a tall, buff Italian woman who met him as he exited.
· The recipient simply got lost on the ski hill.
· The recipient skied up behind a German woman he claims looked like his wife and, in German, complimented her derrière. Her response, in English or German, is best not repeated.
· Recipient, claiming to know the mountain after a day with a professional guide, led a group of twelve onto a ice sheathed slope, from which there was no polite escape.
· Recipient had the temerity to suffer a disabling injury while skiing.
· Recipient locked her husband in their hotel room and them complained when he didn’t show up for dinner. (It’s possible to do this in some hotels. To complicate matters further the room lacked a phone.)

This is but a sample of over 200 spoon awards that have occurred over the past 20 years.

Why is the spoon such a big deal. Well, as they say, you have to be there. A good spoonable event relies on:
An incident, serious or not.
Willing witnesses.
The embellishment of the award presention.
The recipients sense of humor.
The quantity of wine consumed by the participants and audience.

Most honorees accept the spoon with aplomb. But a few, fearing public exposure go to great lengths to avoid the recognition. Some:
Simply try to avoid making mistakes in the presence of witnesses.
Ski with close friends all of whom take a vow of silence.
Resort to blatant bribery to silence talkative witnesses. (as in chocolate, wine, hats, etc.)

So the spoon lives as an integral part of the trip culture, cherished by most, feared by some, but always a source of good humor and conversation.

Do you recall a spoon incident from one of your trips? We want to hear about them. We will protect the names if that makes you feel more talkative. Remember the simple questions.
Who did it?
What did they do?
Who made the award?
Just click the comments box below and send them in to share with others. Spoon photos are also welcomed.

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