These are publications of the International Skiing History Association (ISHA).
Skiing Heritage, 1st Issue 2000
p. 8, "Readers' Response"In a letter to the editor, E. John B. Allen writes about Mathias Zdarsky: "For Zdarsky, one pole was religious writ, as was the use of Zdarsky bindings." This contradicts statements I've read elsewhere (e.g. isha-1990-aut-p3) that said Zdarsky started out using one pole and later switched to two.
p. 10, Ancinas, Eddy with Morten Lund, "An American Skier For All Seasons: Charley Proctor - Part I"Charles N. (Charley) Proctor was born January 6, 1906. His father, Charles A. Proctor, was a physics professor. Charley Proctor was the first native-born American to run a ski school, coach college racing, and lay out a ski area. He was the country's first great alpine racer, the second American-born skier (after John Carleton) to compete in a Winter Olympics, the first to ski the Tuckerman Headwall and, with his father, a pioneer in slalom and downhill. This profile contains much background on early alpine skiing in the U.S.
In the winter of 1925, Professor Proctor and Dartmouth coach Anton Diettrich mounted the first-ever serious American elapsed-time, paired-gate slalom at the Darthmouth Winter Carnival. Charley Proctor won it. Slalom-like races held previously in the U.S. had style as a factor in the scoring.
At the 1926 Carnival, Professor Proctor and Coach Diettrich laid out the first "all-downhill downhill" in the East on Balch Hill, also won by Charley. Previous races typically involved both downhill and uphill sections in order to provide a long race, and more time was spent in the climbing then in the downhill running.
In March 1927, the Dartmouth Outing Club ran its first Moosilauke Down Mountain Race on the 4.5 mile Carriage Road. Charley won in 21 minutes. The Carriage Road was gentle all the way and ran slightly uphill the last mile, but this was the first long downhill race in America.
Charley was selected for the 1928 U.S. Olympic team as collegiate champ, together with Rolf Monsen (U.S. eastern amateur cross country champ) and Anders Haugen (two-time national jumping champ). Proctor finished 14th in the jumping and 26th in the combined. The 1928 Olympics at St Moritz did not include alpine skiing events.
p. 28, Lund, Morten with Chris Lizza, "Published in the Fabulous 1990s"A review of Yosemite: Magic Winters by Gene Rose mentions that Dennis Jones and Milana Jank made the first crossing of Tioga Pass on skis in March, 1932 (p. 32).
Skiing Heritage, 2nd Issue 2000
p. 9, Allen, E. John B., "The French Connection To the First Winter Olympics"Concern for the health of France's mountain residents and military preparedness built the foundation for the 1924 Winter Games at Chamonix. In the first decade of the 1900s, France established a tradition of international winter sports meets. These were inspired by admiration among Europe's military for the effectiveness of Norwegian ski troops. In the aftermath of the Franco-Prussian war of 1870-71, the Italians established their Alpini mountain troops in 1872. The French followed with their own mountain troops, Chasseurs Alpin, in 1879.
The Club Alpin Francais (French Alpine Club, or CAF) strove to turn skiing into a national fitness crusade. The club organized the first of a series of international ski meets on Mont Genevre in February 1907. The purpose was to "better the nation's defense at the same time as bettering the alpine population." The focus of these meets was overwhelmingly on military competitions. The author does not describe the races in detail, but illustrations accompanying the text suggest that they were team races, with the patrols carrying packs and equipment, including rifles. The winter sports weeks were held annually thereafter at different locations in France until World War I interrupted them in 1915. The 1908 meet was held in Chamonix and included teams from, at least, Switzerland, France, Norway and Italy.
When the 1924 Olympic Games were awarded to Paris, the Scandinavians, who dominated the International Ski Congress, opposed any international ski meet held under the Olympic flag. The International Olympic Committee assured them that the winter Games held at Chamonix were not Olympic and the its champions "had no right to medals." The Games were conducted as an extention of the CAF Winter Sports Week. A few months after the meet had ended, the IOC voted to recognize the 1924 Chamonix Games as a bonafide Olympics, entitling the winners to Olympic medals.
Skiing Heritage, 3rd Issue 2000
p. 20, Lund, Morten and Eddy Ancinas, "Charley Proctor: The Young Renaissance Man"Shortly after the 1928 Olympics, Charley Proctor was invited to a Kandahar Ski Club downhill at Murren. The race used the geschmozzle start--everyone taking off together, first across the finish wins. Without inspecting the course, Charley started off following Bill Bracken. In mid-race, watching Bracken's red shirt instead of the snow, Charley lost control, shot over a rock ledge and wrenched an ankle. He later traveled to St Anton for the first running of the Arlberg-Kandahar alpine combined race. Due to his injured ankle he decided not to compete in the downhill and was hampered in the slalom.
On Easter weekend of 1931, Charley and Rockwell Stephens joined Charley's old mentor, Johnny Carleton, a member of the 1924 U.S. Olympic team, for a trip to Tuckerman Ravine. The upper headwall had never been skied non-stop, so Johnny and Charley decided to try it. During the descent, Carleton fell and stopped to watch Charley, "who just kept on smoothly hopping down to the bottom in perfect control although afterward, Charley admitted in his dry way, 'We had a nervous time up there...I think.'"
In 1933, the Moosilauke Down Mountain race, which by that time had been shortened to eliminate the flat bottom, became the first national downhill championship race.
Skiing Heritage, 3rd 2001
p. 11, Gilbert, Kirby, Letter: "A Coach Named Wolfie"A Seattle Times article dated November 17, 1937 says that UCLA ski team coach Walter Mosauer died in Mexico last summer after contracting a tropical fever. Wolfgang Lert, who learned to ski on Mt Rainier, is slated to take his place.
Skiing Heritage, 4th Issue 2001
p. 9, Lund, Morten, "The Historic First Four Winter Olympic Games 1924-1936"The account of the 1924 Chamonix Games in this article builds on the previous article by John Allen (isha-2000-2nd-p9). The Winter Olympics were first scheduled for Germany in 1916, but were cancelled when World War I intervened. At the 1924 Chamonix Games, the Norwegians dominated, winning eleven of twelve medals awarded in jumping, cross-country, and nordic combined. The Swiss team won the 18-km military ski patrol event, which involved both skiing and shooting. This patrol event has been omitted from many published compilations of Olympic medals. The American team of seven men and was captained by Johnny Carleton of Dartmouths's 1924 ski team. America's Anders Haugen finished fourth in the special jump, but fifty years later was discovered to have earned the bronze medal, originally denied because of a scoring error.
The U.S team for the 1928 St Moritz Games was hastily assembled and consisted of only three men, including Anders Haugen and Charley Proctor. The Swedes swept the 50-km cross-country race, but the Norwegians won all the other individual medals, plus a gold in the military ski race, which they entered for the first time. At the FIS meeting at St Moritz, the FIS agreed to experiment with downhill racing, using the slalom format devised by Arnold Lunn.
The 1932 Games were secured for Lake Placid, NY, by Godfrey Dewey, whose father founded the exclusive Lake Placid Club in 1885. Even though the FIS had by this time accepted downhill and slalom racing, the Lake Placid organizers ignored these events. It was a horrible snow year and the officials labored day and night to prepare the venues. The U.S entered the maximum four skiers per event for a total of twelve skiers. The Scandinavians again dominated.
The 1936 Olympic Games at Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany were the first to include alpine skiing and women's races. They were also the first Games backed by a nationwide effort, as Adolph Hitler exploited them for propaganda value. Only six alpine skiing medals were offered, three for the men's combined slalom-downhill score and three for the women's. The International Olympic Committee banned ski instructors as "professionals," eliminating the best Swiss and Austrian racers, including Toni Seelos. Ironically, French and German racers supported by government training grants were considered "amateurs." German racers won the top alpine medals, but the hero of the Games was Birger Ruud of Norway, who won both the downhill and the special jump. Dick Durrance was the best American performer. Don Fraser was injured in practice and did not compete. Other Northwest skiers on the U.S. team included Darroch Crookes, Ellis-Ayre and Ethelene Smith, and Grace Carter.
p. 42, "Looking Back"In a Ski magazine article dated December 1, 1951, Hannes Schneider wrote, "I regret to say that... I find fewer real skiers than I did 12 years ago when I arrived in this country... Every skier must master the fundamentals if he ever expects to be the master of his skis in any snow condition, on any terrain... Cranmore may have thousands of people on its slopes every weekend, there are still acres of unbroken [snow] but skiers will not seek them. Today's skiers... want to travel in the... beaten track."
Skiing Heritage, 1st Issue 2002
p. 25, Lert, Wolfgang, "A Binding Revolution"The earliest toe-and-heel strap binding was made of braided natural birchroot shoots, invented in 1850 in the Telemark region of Norway by Sondre Norheim, the country's first national ski champion. The elasticity in the binding kept the skis from falling off, always a problem earlier.
In 1894, Fritz Huitfeldt of Christiania (Oslo) replaced the toe strap materials with iron. His first toe irons looked like ears, bolted through the ski from one side to the other. A buckled leather toe strap across the toe held the boot down. Another buckled strap around the heel drove the boot into the toe irons. In 1897, Huitfeldt improved the binding by mortising a rectangular hole through the width of the ski. Through this was passed a long slotted iron plate. The protruding ends of the plate were bent into vertical ears and hammered inward a bit to hold the particular boot. In 1904, Huitfeldt improved his binding again by adding the Hoyer-Ellefsen toggle, which worked like today's ski boot buckle. The toggle was part of the heel strap, so closing it put the strap under much greater tension than a simple buckle would.
In 1920, Marius Eriksen (father of Stein) invented the first toe plate that could be screwed on the top of the ski, making it unnecessary to mortice a hole through the ski. The most successful screw-on toe-plate binding was the Kandahar, invented in 1932 by G. Reuge. The Kandahar moved the toggle to the ski ahead of the boot, creating a "front throw." The heel strap was a steel cable threaded through hook-shaped guides on the sides of the ski, which provided diagonal downpull. The Kandahar-type binding was dominant for nearly two decades.
This article is largely based on (or is consistent with) kleppen-1986-p48.
p. 31, "Germans Invent Their Own Olympics"A paper presented by Gerd Falkner at the 2002 International Ski History Congress traces the history of German Olympic endeavors. After being excluded from the Founding Olympic Congress at Paris in 1894 and after cancellation of the 1916 German Olympics due to World War I, German winter sports organizations created their own Olympic Games. The first German Winter Olympics were held in Garmisch in 1922. Seven hundred participants arrived from Germany, Austria and Bohemia. The second German Winter Olympics were held in 1926 and the third in 1930. When Germany was awarded the 1936 summer and winter Olympics, they were well prepared, since it was effectively the fourth Winter Olympics they had organized.
Skiing Heritage, September 2002
p. 8, "Readers' Respond"In a letter to the editor, Marvin Chandler writes that Otto Schniebs was an inspirer but not much of a coach. Chandler recalls that Otto sought to learn from Dick Durrance. Otto and Jack McCrillis took slow motion pictures of Durrance's technique, which later became the accepted style. It was McCrillis who became aware of Dick Durrance when Durrance was making his way from Florida to New Hampshire and looking for a school that had competitive skiing. Jack got Durrance into Dartmouth. (For a Northwest connection, see mtneer-b-1932-mar.)
Skiing Heritage, June 2003
p. 4, "Readers' Respond"Win Lauder of Sun Valley comments on Warren Miller's latest ski film and a recent issue of Skiing magazine. "We used to see articles on basic technique and where to find local ski shops. Now it's photos of extreme skiers in impossible terrain. [...] Skiing has changed from a participant sport to a spectator sport. [...] I wonder what percentage of Skiing's readership actually skis any of this." He concludes: "Is this an old-timer's lament? Hardly, since the sport keeps on shrinking."
Skiing Heritage, September 2003
p. 28, Allen, John, "The Brits and Their Unlikely Contribution to Skiing"In the 1870s and 1880s, British tourists began visiting the Alps for "winter sporting" (mainly skating and tobogganing) in significant numbers. In the 1890s, inspired by Norwegian Fridtjof Nansen's account of his crossing of the Greenland icecap on skis in 1888, skiing spread throughout Europe. Rather than travel to Norway to ski, wealthy British tourists, having already taken to mountaineering in Switzerland, chose to ski there. Henry Lunn, initiated British interest in skiing in the 1890s by organizing the first tour groups to go skiing in the Alps. These trips catered to the British upper crust and offered a comfortable social setting. E.C. Richardson wrote that many British tried skiing "first for the joke of the thing," but then succumbed to the sport.
The British continued their interest in summer ascents of alpine peaks and soon tried to emulate these exploits in winter on skis. Arnold Lunn, son of Henry Lunn, started out doing summer mountaineering but soon turned to ski mountaineering. The British mountaineer W.A.B. Coolidge did "not reckon 'skiing' to be any part of mountaineering." But Lunn, who first skied in 1898 at age 10, discovered that skis saved many hours on the return trip from a summit and provided exhilarating enjoyment. "It is the nearest approach to flying," he wrote in his diary.
Ski races were devised as tests of the skills required for ski mountaineering. "The downhill--often called the straight race, since the mark of an accomplished skier was a straight track--was the test to simulate the speedy descent from peak to tree line. The slalom tested the ability to negotiate curves; it simulated tree running." The word "slalom" is derived from the Norwegian slalaam. Norwegians had a variety of laam ("tracks"): Kneikelaam (run with bumps), Ufselaam (run off a cliff), Hoplaam (run with a jump or jumps), Svinglaam (run with turns), Uvyrdslaam (wild run). The Norwegian Slalaam was a descent around natural obstacles.
Arnold Lunn was apparently unware of Norwegian slalaam races, which had not proved popular, or of similar races conducted by the Austrian Mathias Zdarsky and German skiers in the early 1900s. In the 1910s, Lunn created slalom courses by placing branches in the snow, then flags and later, gates. He published rules for these races and secured international acceptance of both downhill and slalom in 1922-23. Unlike earlier forms of slalom, Lunn's race was judged entirely on speed. Together with the Arlberg technique of his friend Hannes Schneider, Lunn's contributions set alpine skiing on its modern course.
Skiing Heritage, December 2003
p. 6, "Readers' Respond"A letter from Dr. Melvin Holli of the University of Illinois provides a good short summary of the Finnish winter war of 1939-40, discussing its relationship to the blitzkrieg in Poland, Finnish fighting tactics, and the later formation of U.S. ski troops.
Skiing Heritage, March 2004
p. 5, "Readers' Respond"In response to a reader's question, Mark Miller describes skis made by Martin Strand and Christian Lund in the early 1900s. Both started manufacturing in 1911. Strand was the first American to thread the leather toe strap through a mortise in the ski. Most early American leather bindings were tacked to the side of the ski. Lund founded the Northland Ski Company. His skis were the first in America to feature a "nipple" or squared-off point on the tip (also known as a Norwegian or square tip). The nipple's original purpose was to prevent maple skis from splitting down the middle, but the tip also served to anchor climbing skins or, in the off-season, braces to maintain ski camber.
p. 18, Masia, Seth, "Milestones and Detours in Ski Design"This article summarizes the key milestones in ski design over the years:
- Camber and sidecut introduced by Sondre Norheim and others of Telemark Norway in the mid 1800s.
- The steel edge, invented by Rudolf Lettner of Austria in 1928.
- Laminated construction perfected simultaneously in Seattle and Metdal, Norway by George Aaland and Bjorn Ullevoldsaeter in 1932.
- The polyethylene base introduced by the American firm Kofler (Kofix brand) in 1953.
- Aluminum skis developed by Gomme, TEY, and Head in the late 1940s and 1950s.
- Fiberglass reinforced plastic skis (Toni Sailer brand) introduced by Fred Langendorf and Art Molnar in 1959.
- Radical sidecut skis created by Olin engineer Frank Meatto in 1984 and commercialized by Elan and others around 1990.
Skiing Heritage, September 2004
p. 25, Dederer, Mike, "Silver Skis: Derring-Do On Mt. Rainier"This article describes every Silver Skis race on Mt Rainier from 1934 through 1948. It also includes information about the revived race at Crystal Mountain from 1964 through 1969. Men's and women's top finishers are tabulated. The article includes recollections of Don Fraser (from his Ketchum-Sun Valley Museum oral history), Bil Dunaway, Walt Page, Lonnie Robinson, Wolf Bauer, Wendell Trosper, Otto Lang and Rees Stevenson. Also included are photos of Don Fraser and Gretchen Kunigk holding their 1938 trophies, the top three Seattle Ski Club racers in 1934, Marguerite Strizek holding her 1934 trophy, a course diagram, posters and flyers, and a Seattle P-I drawing used to advertise the 1965 event.
Previous Return to the Alpenglow Ski Mountaineering History Project home page Next