Alpenglow Ski Mountaineering History Project
Seattle Post-Intelligencer -
Silver Skis Championships
These articles were published at the time of the Silver Skis
races. Retrospective articles are listed
All Seattle P-I issues were reviewed on microfilm at the
I skimmed the following P-I issues to compile these notes.
I copied articles about the Silver Skis race and a few others for context.
Sundays are shown in bold:
The National Park Company announces a schedule of weekly races
from New Years Day to the end of April. On June 1 is listed the
"First flying mile exhibition." The author writes: "A downhill
dash from Camp Muir--right up there in the clouds brother--to
Paradise, a real test of the ski rider's ability, will be the
main event of the programs." This was probably the first mention
in the press of what would become the Silver Skis race. The
course is said to be five miles long with a one-mile drop.
The first motorized ski-tow in the country opened on January 29
at Woodstock, VT. "The device consists of an endless rope which
runs over a guide pulley at the top of the hill and over a motor
at the foot of the incline. It takes skiers up 900 feet in one
minute." The future beckons.
This is the official announcement of the P-I's sponsorship of the
as-yet unnamed race. A photo of Hans Otto Giese, chairman of the
Seattle Ski Council, is shown under the heading "SKI BOOSTER".
The P-I decided to sponsor the race after a meeting of Giese,
Otto Sanford of the Commonwealth Ski Club, Frank Bush of the
YMCA, Jack Hillyer of the UW Ski Club, Don Fraser ("prominent
cross-country skier"), Tony Talbot of the Washington Athletic
Club, and Mike Donohoe and Royal Brougham of the P-I.
Paul H. Sceva of the Rainier National Park Company and Hans Otto
Giese do the enthusing. Downhill races for juniors and women are
also being planned.
Compares the proposed Muir-Paradise race to the Kandahar at
Murren, Switzerland, "the Kentucky Derby of ski racing."
Howard Dalsbo, secretary of the Northwest Ski Association does the
A sequence of three photos depicts Paul Sceva, Jr. performing a pole
Ed Newell of the Paradise Ski Club compares the proposed race to
those on Mt Moosilauke, NH and Mt Ste. Marguerite, Quebec.
Originally scheduled for May 6, the date was moved up due to "an
unusual scarcity of snow throughout the Northwest this season."
There is a large photo of a skier near Alta Vista looking toward
the Muir snowfield. The proposed race route is clearly marked.
The name "Silver Skis" is used for the first time.
On March 25 an entry form is published.
The paper drums up enthusiasm by highlighting skiers who have
registered early, including Hans Otto Giese, Ben Thompson, Alf
Moystad, Hans Grage and Paul Gilbreath.
The article makes it clear that a mass start is planned. Timers
at Paradise will be in radio contact with the starters at Muir
and a loudspeaker at Paradise will keep the crowd informed of the
action. The article includes a large aerial photo of the
mountain taken by a P-I photographer with the course marked.
The article names a few of the skiers "getting in shape" and
describes the awards to be given, including a sterling silver
trophy for the winner of the big race. The names of the entrants
are listed (28 so far).
The final press blitz begins with a double-page photo of Otto
Strizek, Frank Fletcher and Carleton Wiegel skiing in close
formation with the caption, "Here's the real sport of skiing as
caught by the camera's eye!"
The article highlights the women's downhill to be held on
Panorama Point during the Silver Skis program. It notes, "The
weather has been remarkably clear on the mountain during the past
three weeks and no sudden change is expected."
Several press services will cover the race and Universal Newsreel
will film it, "thus the Northwest will be supplied through one
event with national publicity which millons of dollars cannot
buy." There is even some cheesecake in the form of Grace Carter,
"a feminine sensation on skis is this dainty little miss,"
pictured doing a low telemark in a V-neck shirt.
The subtitle is "Huge Crowd of Spectators Plan Mt. Rainier
Excursion on This Sunday Morning". This issue includes
photographs of Bob Donaldson, Carleton Wiegel and Hans Grage
"practicing for Silver Skis."
The article predicts "almost 100 skiers" will compete in the
race. There is a large photo of Joyce Lochore (titled "Beauty
and Silver Skis") holding the silver trophy, two finely detailed
skis (with bindings) supported in an A-frame by a central column.
Another article names the officials: Darroch Crookes,
course-setter; Otto Sanford, head starter; Peter Hostmark, chief
judge; Ken Syverson, chief gatekeeper; Carl Tice, patrol chief.
A note at the lower-right corner says it's "Easy to Reach
Sixty skiers are now registered. The writer speculates about the
chances of some of the top competitors, including Hans Grage of
the Commonwealth Club, Viktor Kutschera of Banff, Alf Moystad of
the Seattle Ski Club, Hans Otto Giese, and others.
A tiny AP wire story says that on April 20 a party led by Sir Norman
J. Watson arrived at Knight Inlet, B.C. after successfully
crossing the Coast Range and skiing down the Franklin Glacier to
A tiny article mentions that manufacturer Ray Anderson has formed a
partnership with skier Ben Thompson to make ski equipment in
Printed on the morning of the race, the paper predicts fine
weather, a record crowd, and speculates on the winning time. One
piece notes that "Skiing Was Mystery to Editors in 1919" and
Royal Brougham's column concludes: "If you haven't found it out,
skiing is on the Northwest sports map permanently and
definitely. And the Silver Skis Championship set for Sunday is
going to be something to look at, if you care for thrills."
Don Fraser won the April 22 race in a time of 10 minutes, 49.6
seconds. The Page 1 story is continued on the sports section,
where Fraser is pictured finishing just ahead of Carleton Wiegel.
The photo caption says that sixty-four skiers started and
forty-three finished, while the article says that sixty started
and forty-four finished. Alf Moystad finished third. Marguerite
Strizek won the women's event and Paul Sceva Jr. won the junior
race. Only one injury was reported, a fractured jaw sustained by
Ben Thompson in a collision with another racer below Anvil Rock.
Forty-four finishers are listed. They include Wolf Bauer,
5th (DQ); Hans-Otto Giese, 6th; Hans Grage, 10th; Ken Syverson,
11th; Bill Butler, 13th; Wendell Trosper, 21st; John Woodward,
30th; Paul Gilbreath, 31st (DQ); Stanley Borgersen, 33rd; Robert
Sperlin, 38th; Don Adams, 39th. Those marked (DQ) were
disqualified for failing to pass through a control gate. Entry
lists in the 4/20 and 4/21 papers suggest that the following men
(among others) raced but did not finish: Ed and Harry Loners,
W.J. Maxwell, Lyle St. Louis and Otto Strizek.
"That the Silver Skis championship is destined to take its place
among the great winter sports events of the world was the
unanimous opinion of spectators and competitors alike yesterday,"
writes the author.
Some issues contained relevant articles that I have not summarized
Hannes Schroll of Austria won the U.S. National downhill ski
championship at Mt Rainier on April 13 over a 2.3 mile course in
a time of 2 minutes, 35 seconds. Dick Durrance of Dartmouth
College, NH was second in 3:42. His teammate A.L. Washburn took
third. High winds and fog were reported on the course. Schroll
was awarded the P-I Silver Skis trophy for 1935, since the
Muir-Paradise race was cancelled to make way for this event.
Ellis Ayr Smith of Tacoma won the women's National downhill
Hannes Schroll won U.S. National slalom championship on April 14,
with Bob Livermore of Boston in second. In the combined
tournament results, Schroll was the winner with Dick Durrance
second. National Park officials estimated that over 7,000
spectators watched Sunday's race. Ethlynne Smith, sister of the
women's downhill winner, won the women's slalom. A photo depicts
Royal Brougham awarding the Silver Skis trophy to Hannes Schroll.
A photo of Hannes Schroll in action in the slalom, subtitled:
"Laughing, Colorful and Daring, He Wins the Silver Skis".
Hjalmar Hvam of Portland, OR won the second Muir-Paradise
downhill (the third time the Silver Skis trophy was awarded) on
April 19 in a time of 5 minutes, 38 seconds. Hannes Schroll
foreran the course in 5:30.3. Tom Mobraaten of Vancouver was
second and Paul Gilbreath of Seattle third. The racers were
started separately and finished in Edith Creek Basin. Peggy
Harlin of Vancouver won the women's race. The article includes a
fine photo of Hvam crossing the finish line with the crowd and
Tatoosh range in the scene. Another photo depicts Hvam holding
the trophy next to Hannes Schroll.
The Pacific Northwest Ski Association sanctioned an open
competition, allowing both amateurs and professionals. The
article predicts the biggest race yet, due to the improvement of
skiers and the opening of the road to Paradise. "No longer
will the spectators have to hike from Narada Falls."
The race scheduled for April 18 was delayed for one day due to
stormy weather. Instead, the racers staged an exhibition slalom
on the slopes of Alta Vista. Sigi Engl of Yosemite had the
After a one-day postponement to Monday, April 19, Master of
Course Otto Lang and the race committee unanimously canceled the
race due to stormy weather. The article is accompanied by a
photo of several racers, including Sigmund Ruud, Sverre Kolterud
and Hjalmar Hvam, sitting outside the lodge under the headline,
"But it Wouldn't Stop Snowing..."
The race was indefinitely postponed due to sixty mile-per-hour
winds on Sunday, March 27. Eighteen hundred cars and almost
8,000 people had traveled to Paradise to view the race.
Saturday's weather, on the other hand, had been fine. A photo
depicts Don Amick skiing in an exhibition slalom that was run
instead of the downhill. The organizers were to decide in a few
days what the future of the 1938 race would be.
Don Fraser won the race on May 1 in a time of 6 minutes, 12.3
seconds. Hannes Schroll finished second, 3 seconds behind the
leader. Carl Neu of the Penguin Ski Club was third. Wind and
variable clouds were reported. The article is accompanied by a
photo of Fraser, Gretchen Kunigk, women's champion, and Dick
Lewis, junior champion, holding their trophies. Another photo
shows Fraser in action on Panorama Point.
Austrian Peter Radacher of Sun Valley won the race on April 15 in
a time of 4 minutes, 51.4 seconds. The P-I now measures the
course at 3.16 miles (in previous years it said it was 5 miles),
making claims of 60+ mph speeds more credible to readers who can
divide. Arthur Schlatter of Switzerland was second, six seconds
behind the leader. Norwegian jumper Reidar Anderson was third.
Nine racers broke the previous course record set by Hannes
Schroll in 1936. Dorothy Hoyt was the women's champion. The
article includes a photo of a crouched racer approaching the
finish line, with an inset of Radacher admiring his Silver Skis
This Page 1 article says that Sigurd Hall, 25, of Seattle died after
striking rocks a half-mile from the starting point. Vince Broze and
Paul Sceva, Jr. also suffered leg injuries.
Paul Gilbreath won the race on April 13 in 5 minutes, 24 seconds.
Toni Matt of North Conway, NH was two seconds behind. Hans Grage
of Seattle took third. Icy slopes and foggy weather were
reported. Nancy Reynolds won the women's race. The article
includes a photo of Gilbreath in action and another of him
receiving the Silver Skis trophy from Baroness Zina De Rosen,
visiting from Sweden. This article makes no mention of the
accidents until the end, when Gilbreath is quoted: "I think we
should dedicate the Silver Skis to Sigurd Hall."
This Page 3 article says that due to mail delays caused by the
war, it may be weeks or even months before word of Hall's death
reaches his mother in Furugrenda, Norway. The article says that
Hall was an electrician employed by a machinery concern. He came
to the U.S about twelve years earlier and became an American
citizen in 1937.
Quote: "In future Silver Skis championships the trophy for the
fastest amateur will be known as 'The Sig Hall Memorial Trophy'
in honor of a clean-cut young fellow who was the personification
of the amateur ideal."
The race was postponed due to high winds. The article makes it
clear that the Seattle P-I is still the sponsor, despite what has
been published elsewhere (e.g.
There is a fine photo of Gage Chetwood of the Washington Ski Club
carving a turn close to the camera.
The race on April 6 was shortened by a half-mile, starting at Little
Africa instead of Camp Muir. Bill Taylor, 20, of Tacoma won in a
time of 4 minutes, 51.4 seconds. Hugh Bauer was 6 seconds behind
and Paul Gilbreath finished third. Lt. John Woodward of the
U.S. Army placed fourth. The article reports that conditions
were the trickiest in the 7-year history of the race due to new
snow and flat light. Not a single competitor finished without a
fall. The article includes a photo of a racer passing the finish
gate and another of Bill Taylor in action. Shirley McDonald won the
The race was delayed by bad weather. The article predicts that a
score of members of the United States ski troops will run in the
The article begins on Page 1 and is continued in the sports
section. Matt Broze of the Seattle Ski Club won the April 12
race in a time of 4 minutes, 57 seconds, despite two falls. The
race was over the full 3.16 mile course. Walter Prager, former
Dartmouth ski coach and now a member of the U.S. Army mountain
troops, finished 2 seconds behind. Martin Fopp of Timberline, OR
placed third. Thirteen of the top twenty finishers were members
of the mountain troops training on Mt Rainier. The article
includes a photo of Walter Prager crossing the finish line,
another of Ray Zoberski crashing at the finish, and a third of
Matt Broze, men's champion, and Shirley McDonald, women's
champion, receiving their trophies from Col. O.S. Rolfe,
commander of the U.S. Army mountain troops.
In an email on 15 Nov 2010, Cam Broze (son of Matt Broze)
wrote that his father wrote in the margin of this story a
correction to the statement that he fell twice during the
race: "No! Only once."
The article includes a photo of a racer crossing the finish line
with the caption: "Thrills abound in Rainier classic, resumed
today, first since 1942." Twenty-three competitors are
registered. There is a description of the trophy: "Designed by
Carl Zapffe, a Seattle silversmith, the trophy consists of two
skis, complete with downhill racing bindings, and done to scale
in silver." The writer notes that "each winner of the
classic keeps the trophy forever."
Wind, snow and fog delayed the race scheduled for Saturday, April
20. The author writes: "It is because the weather here is so
unpredictable that the race is always slated for Saturday. And
in the event that conditions are not favorable the race is put
over until the following day." The first racer is started at 1:30
pm and the remainder of the field start at one-minute intervals.
Racers and officials climbed to Little Africa on Easter Sunday,
April 21, and waited for 1-1/2 hours before canceling the event
due to foul weather.
Willard South of the Sun Valley Ski Club won the May 3 race in 5
minutes, 16 seconds. Karl Stingl, also from Sun Valley, was
two-tenths of a second behind him. Don Amick of Seattle, who was
favored before the race, placed third. In a bizarre twist, the
finish point was moved from Edith Creek basin to the flats above
Alta Vista after the racers had ascended the course. Amick
made the usual left turn toward Edith Creek and missed the
finish gate. The judges and timers fudged the results by
catching the racers "at an angle across the finish" as they
headed for the customary ending. The article includes a photo of
South passing through the finish gate with Panorama Point visible
above. Another photo depicts Chief of Course Don Fraser awarding
the trophy to Willard South and his wife. There were 20 finishers.
The race was postponed from Saturday, April 10 due to wind and snowfall.
Continued stormy weather forced another postponement. The
organizers hope to reschedule the race in early May.
The writer sums up the third postponement of the season:
"Ceiling--zero; visibility--zero; Silver Skis--zero. That's how
it was today in lovely, fogbound Paradise Valley."
Paul Gilbreath won the 10th Silver Skis Championship on May 9 in
3 minutes, 27.3 seconds. After being postponed three times, the
race was run in foggy conditions over a shortened course,
starting at Little Africa instead of Camp Muir. Gib Eaton of the
Penguin Ski Club was second and Dr. William Taylor of Tacoma,
the 1941 winner, was third. Gilbreath became the second person,
along with Don Fraser, to win the Silver Skis twice. Repeated
postponements cut the field from 35 when it was initially
scheduled to only 10 finishers. A photo depicts Gilbreath
crossing the finish line in cloudy weather. Another photo
shows the top finishers receiving trophies from John Mulhollan,
committee chairman, and John Preston, Rainier National Park
I skimmed the following issues and found no mention of the Silver
There were articles about smaller PNSA races taking place on Mt Rainier,
but nothing about the Silver Skis.
Copyright © 2002 Lowell Skoog. All Rights Reserved.
Sat, Apr 14, 2012 4:51:56 PM