Lunn’s Letters to Young Winter Sportsmen

Letters to Young Winter Sportsmen - Skiing, Skating and Curling - Lunn, Brian
The cover of the Home Farm Books reprint. Note the misused comma!

Young men planning to spend the winter at an Alpine resort (which lots of rich English people did back in the day) and get involved in winter sports while there are the intended audience of this book, which was published in 1927.

The book gives a good sense if what it was like to vacation at these Alpine resorts and of how excited people were about their winter sports. I particularly liked this paragraph:

If, later on, you wish to give yourself seriously to ski-ing, you should induce your father to send you for a few terms to the excellent university of Innsbruck, whence Kitzbühl, St. Anton, and many other smaller places can so easily be reached for the week-ends. In the days when the Austrian crown made living so cheap for the foreigner, I spent some months there working for an examination. One could have breakfast on the morning train to Kitzbühl, spend the day ski-ing there, and have dinner on the train in the evening, and a third-class ticket in Austria entitled you to the use of the restaurant car. I did not pass the examination that year.

Lunn, Letters, p. 14.

The book is mostly about skiing, but it does include a rather long chapter on figure skating by Humphry Cobb. Cobb also wrote the chapter on curling. In addition, Lunn’s wife wrote the chapters on skiing equipment and the first day, and Geoffrey Samuelson wrote the chapter on racing. This means just four of the nine chapters were actually written by Lunn!

While the book is addressed to young men, some comments are made indirectly to women by referring to the reader’s sister(s). Mrs. Lunn (who wrote the chapter on equipment) remarks,

…all of the foregoing applies to your sisters as well as to yourself—both sexes wear the same things [i.e., pants, not dresses] out ski-ing.

Lunn, Letters, p. 20.

In contrast, Cobb advised women to wear skirts while skating:

Clothes I will leave to you and your tailor. All I can say is let them be suitable, and please persuade your sister, if she is going to skate, to wear a skirt.

Lunn, Letters, p. 91.

Cobb focuses on the English style, which he recommends starting with. Once you’ve learned it, he adds,

if you have any reason or feel a yearning to become an International skater, by all means try it. It is an art and not a sport, or rather I should say, the element of sport is subservient to the artistry and appearance, and studied—often too studied—grace of the International skater.

Lunn, Letters, p. 89.

It’s interesting to see the English style (mainly combined figures) referred to as the more sporting of the two, while the International style (the flashy ancestor of today’s competitive skating) is considered an art instead.


Brian Lunn. 1927. Letters to Young Winter Sportsmen: Skiing, Skating, and Curling. Facsimile reprint by Home Farm Books, n.d.