Skiing is a very social thing, so it is still possible to meet Steve Stunning or Grace Good Enough even when it is snowing hard and blowing about 40 miles an hour.

There are hundreds of ways to meet someone that I have observed over the years and, I hasten to add, used to practice before I met my wife Laurie at the top of the mountain in Sun Valley, Idaho.

The hardest way to meet anyone is to spend ten years trying to learn to ski like Stein Eriksen, investing untold dollars in the process so that Suzy Somebody might someday ski up to you and say, "Wow, will you teach me how to ski like that?" By then, you will be old enough to be her Uncle Clyde. Here are some suggestions:

The ski equipment ploy. Just pick out some piece of their equipment that looks the newest or the oldest. It can be their boots, bindings, skis, poles, parka, or hat; it doesn't matter. Just ask them how they like it. By the time they have explained their innermost feelings about their new $375 bindings, the two of you are on the chair lift and the rest is up to the chemistry of your union, the wind chill factor of the ride, and whether or not they live within a thousand miles of where you do.

Answer to the cry of "SINGLE?" The easy way to meet someone is to simply holler, "single." This will get you a dozen glances from people of the opposite sex. They are sizing you up to see if you offer a better chance of getting a free dinner tonight than the other single that they are currently stuck with in line. It's difficult for you to have eye contact because you are wearing the same dark goggles that you use when you are working in your welding shop during the week.

The ski pole strap ploy. Almost no one uses the straps on their ski poles properly. "Let me show you how much better you can ski if you twist your wrist straps another way. I can show you a lot better if you take off your gloves." Now you can easily tell if she is married or just a weekend widow, which is identified by a dent in her ring finger.

The age separator. "Can you tell me which run is groomed today?" This lets anyone within earshot know that you are smart enough not to do bumps and you don't do windows either. This also sorts out the windshield wiper turners from the groomed run cruisers and saves a lot of boring ski time if you are young enough to still like bumps. It also saves you from becoming a nerd by trying to ski with a hot shot, when you aren't.

The outright con job. "Pardon me, but my ski school parka is at the cleaners and this is my day off. Can I help you with your pole plant on the next run? No charge, of course." (Except for a couple of drinks after skiing and having them buy your dinner.)

Beware and ski with care. Beware of a man with gray hair, who yodels and wears a gold chain outside of his turtleneck. Run fast if he is wearing a turtleneck with two gold chains on the outside. Chances are he also has a hair transplant and is looking for a Beverly Hills psychiatrist's ex-wife to ski with and buy his dinner. He is probably a divorced Beverly Hills doctor who is broke from alimony payments and child support.

At lunch leering. Tired? Get to the cafeteria early for lunch and stretch your hat, gloves, parka, and sweater across three other seats. "Yes, they are taken. Sorry, my friends will be here in a minute. They are in line getting our lunches."

Sooner or later the right two or three members of the opposite sex, Mrs. or Ms. Wonderful, will show up with tray loads of food and no place to sit. "Are these seats taken?"

"Sure, why not? Looks like my friends took an extra run. Here, can I help you with your trays? Which bus group did you come up here with?"

This last question qualifies them immediately. No sense wasting time when you are riding back on a tour bus to San Diego and they are returning to Boise. They must not be G.U.'s, "Geographically Undesirables."

Be polite. The single best way to meet a lady is to offer to carry her skis. I did it 23 years ago and later married her. But, even after I proposed, she wouldn't marry me for three years because she thought I would quit carrying her skis. A 200-yard ski walk with both pairs of skis over your shoulder will earn you more points than taking her out to a $100 dinner.

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