Richie estimates that in his career—which includes stints at Atomic, more than 20 years at Elan, and 10 at Fischer—he’s sold around 60,000 pairs of skis.

THE MINIVAN FLOATS SOUTHBOUND on Interstate 95, the eight-lane highway that connects every major city and byway between Maine and Florida. Beneath the gray New Jersey sky, the road looks like a cast iron skillet with tiny toy cars. Richie Fredericks pilots his Chrysler Town & Country minivan slow enough to avoid the cops but fast enough to make me nervous.

Richie, 78, bought the 10-year-old van two weeks ago after he lost his beloved Honda Element in a flood in Ocean City. A New Jersey native, he has lived in Ocean City, a beach town known for its boardwalk and pizza parlors, since 1988. He spent the previous 20 years in Sugarbush, Vermont. He loved Vermont, but Jersey suits him: the accent, the striper fishing, the short trips to Atlantic City. During the flood, he was trying to help his wife, who was stuck. Saved the wife, lost both cars, just like that.

Richie talks fast, a skill that helps him at his job driving up and down the Eastern seaboard and Mid-Atlantic states selling skis for Fischer. After starting out in retail at Philadelphia’s old—and since defunct—Mogul Ski Shop in the late 1960s, Richie became a rep a few years later and has been selling ski equipment for more than four decades since. He’s sold skis in nearly every state on the East Coast and spent a year in California. (“That didn’t work out,” he says, “because the retailers were buying Mercedes Benzes and boats instead of paying their bills.”) It’s

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