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Richard W. Moulton - Legends of American Skiing
This program contains historic footage from twenty filmmakers with photographs and additional footage from over thirty private collections. In includes interviews with a remarkable array of ski pioneers.

The program begins by describing skiing in the gold camps of California in the mid-1800s. Bill Berry discusses the Alturas Snowshoe Club, long-board racing, and the feats of Snowshoe Thompson. The Nansen Ski Club of Berlin, New Hampshire is described by Sel Hannah. The Hemmestvedt brothers of Norway introduced ski jumping to the Midwest in the mid-1880s. In 1904, the National Ski Association was formed at Ishpeming, Michigan. Lowell Thomas recalls learning to ski with mountain troops in Italy during World War I. Hannes Schneider was an instructor to the Austrian mountain troops and pioneered the Arlberg technique for downhill skiing. In 1922, British skiers invented the slalom race. Around the same time they developed standardized ski tests. Downhill skiing gradually spread to the U.S. and Canada.

Collegiate skiing in the U.S. started in the 1910s at Dartmouth College. Charlie Proctor describes Dartmouth skiing and the first U.S. downhill race on Mt Moosilauke in 1927. Roger Langley describes the effort to convince the nordic-dominated National Ski Association to adopt alpine skiing events. The 1932 Lake Placid Olympic Games included nordic events only and the NSA finally sanctioned alpine skiing in 1933.

Skiing centers were established in the Northeast. Ted Ryan, Thomas Cabot and Lowell Thomas describe the resort at Peckett's on Sugar Hill. Peckett's had the first Arlberg ski school in the country under Sig Buchmayr. Skiing in the Laurentians in the late 1920s is described by a French-Canadian gentleman (Emil Corshan?) whose name is not spelled in the film.

Ski jumping dominated the sport in the early years, supported by towns that built jumps as a matter of community pride. The growth of interest in alpine skiing is described by Sel Hannah, Alf Engen, Roger Langley, Gordy Wren, Barney McLean, Lee Ashley and Mary Bird Young. Dick Durrance discusses how Otto Schniebs built the Dartmouth ski team. Schniebs insisted that Dartmouth skiers compete in all four events (cross-country, jumping, downhill and slalom). He set up a conditioning program but did not teach ski technique. Durrance says that his style, called the "tempo technique" by the press, was an attempt to copy the skiing of the great Toni Seelos. Alpine skiing in the U.S. began as a collegiate sport and grew into a national sport.

In New England, the CCC and local land managers built ski trails in the 1930s. Charlie Proctor, Perry Merrill, Charlie Lord and Ab Coleman offer their recollections. Janet Mead and Mary Bird Young describe the promotion of skiing and the appeal of touring. In the western U.S., the growth of skiing was limited by poor mountain access. The opening of Badger Pass in California and Alta in Utah are discussed by Elbert Despain and Alf Engen, respectively. Lowell Thomas and Sepp Ruschp discuss the creation of Stowe, Vermont. The first rope tow in the U.S. was built at Woodstock, Vermont. Ski lifts and ski fever soon spread from coast to coast.

Don Fraser recalls the 1934 Silver Skis race on Mt Rainier. Dick Durrance recalls the National Championship held on Rainier in 1935. This segment includes newsreel footage of the 1935 races, including footage of the winner, Hannes Schroll. Helen Boughton-Leigh and Ted Ryan discuss the preparation of the U.S. women's Olympic team. There is newsreel footage of the 1936 Olympic Games in Germany, showing the opening ceremonies and alpine skiing events.

Averell Harriman, Lowell Thomas and Alf Engen describe the opening of Sun Valley, Idaho. Engen, Durrance, McLean and Wren discuss ski technique. Lowell Thomas describes the thirty years he spent traveling to ski resorts around the country, from which he made his radio broadcasts.

Skiing in Tuckerman Ravine and the Inferno race are described by Al Sise, Charlie Proctor, Sel Hannah, Toni Matt, Roger Langley and Dick Durrance. Finally, Ted Ryan describes the early planning of the Aspen ski resort by Billy Fiske and others, which came to an end when Fiske was killed in World War II.

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Last Updated: Thu Feb 6 13:50:59 PST 2003