A good ski book can be an excellent companion on a mountain holiday, and occasionally an appropriate valentine for the skier of your life. Here's a brief look at some current offerings.
The 1984 Complete Handbook of the Olympic Winter Games (New American Library, sports handbook editors Zander and Phyllis Hollander and written by knowledgeable sportswriters, it packs much information into 255 pages. Highlights of past Olympics, predictions, good analysis of each event (55 pages devoted to skiing), event rules, a listing of every Olympic medalist, roster of US Winter Olympians since 1924, day-by-day ABC television schedule - all are included.
The National Ski Patrol - Samaritans of the Snow (Countryman Press, Woodstock , Vt., $15.95 cloth, $10.95 paper) is more than a superbly researched history of the (US) National Ski Patrol System by the organization's official historian, Gretchen R. Besser. Certainly, Dr. Besser has colorfully documented the 45 years since insurance salesman C.Minot (Minnie) Dole discovered the need for such an organization at Stowe, Vt. All the skiing names and their contributions are there - the story of the building of the world's largest winter rescue operation , 24,000 men and women volunteers, detailed in a narrative that for the most part is fascinating.
An added dimension makes this much more than an ''in house'' history, however. The author captures the incredible spirit of can-do volunteerism which has not only distinguished the NSPS, but has influenced the evolution of American skiing.
One of many consequences: The Ski Patrol became the only civilian agency authorized to recruit and form one of World War II's most illustrious fighting units, the famed 10th Mountain Division.
For lighter moments around the fireside, Mort Lund's The Real Skier's Dictionary (Simon & Schuster, $5.95) is an excuse for trading wacky definitions with fellow schuusboomers. A few will bring knowing winces, to wit: ''Fall - sincere attempt to slow down.'' ''Ski bum - sore hindquarters after several hard backward falls.'' ''Tip - part of ski pointing in the direction the skier does not wish to go.'' And my favorite: ''Goggles - pair of lenses suspended in a frame in front of a skier's eyes designed to fog completely at the appearance of any impending danger.''
Finally, The Ski Book (Arbor House, $22.95), edited by Lund, Bob Gillen, and Michael Bartlett, remains probably the finest collection of writing about skiing.