When Bud Valian moved from British Columbia to Oregon in 1954, things were a little different on the mountain. Timberline, where he taught skiing, had only one lift – the Magic Mile. In those days, “The Mile” was in a different location. It was actually east of the lodge and went all the way up to Silcox Hut. Bud said the lift tickets were only $4.00/each back then…ahh those were the days!
From all accounts, Bud was a bit of a wild man in his younger days and would often climb up to the top of Mt.Hood and ski down. When asked what his scariest moment was, Bud scratched his head for a moment and said that one morning he had just made it to the top of the mountain as was looking around when suddenly, KABOOM! Two fighter jets came screaming right at him, circled the mountain and then waved goodbye. This is of course just one of the many stories the man offered up. I have it on good authority from others that Bud is credited with straight lining the upper bowl at Ski Bowl more than once. For any of you who have ridden the upper bowl, you can only imagine just how fast you’d get rippin’ going straight down!
Bud and his wife Betsy have been together now for 26 years. They are the perfect mix of yin and yang to run their business. Betsy is the stylish one. She has that magic touch when it comes to decorating the shop and merchandising everything in the most effective way. Bud is the mad scientist behind the curtain. He has developed his own equipment which is nothing short of brilliant ingenuity. Going into Valian’s is almost like stepping into a time warp when ski shops were the only place to find goggles, hats gloves and get your skis tuned. “Betz” on the other hand really has an extraordinary flair for combining the old and the new. As you shuffle around the shop, you will see clippings from old Life magazines, newspaper articles, and the products that were popular back in the day. It takes you back to the days of yore and gives you that warm fuzzy feeling that all is right with the world. However, all of it too is mixed with the very latest gear to help you get your shred on.
I asked Bud how the culture of the mountain has changed and he gave me a reply that I had long suspected. He basically said that these days, everybody is in such a hurry to get up there and then get back down to their everyday lives. He went on to say that it used to be that everyone was much more laid back and personal but the sport itself was in many ways much more difficult. (think lace up boots and bear trap bindings!)
Responding to the question of whether or not he still skis, he said absolutely! However, at 76 he picks his days usually in the spring where he can “wear his sunglasses”. He went on to say that he had enough days teaching in crappy weather.
So, there you have it. Valian’s ski shop in good old Government Camp. One of the classics that I hope will endure in this world of Dick’s, Sport’s Authority and Big 5. A place where you can get real advice from a real pro who’s been there/done that and knows what’s best without the BS.