The Far West Ski Association Turns 90 - 38

Unique to FWSA:
Area Development
by John Watson
Tourism and development in California in the
1920s was based on sun and surf, but businessmen
saw an additional tourism attraction in the snows
of its mountains. Ski jumping had been attracting
large crowds. The business development of skiing
needed big events to develop enthusiasm in the public.
Businessmen knew that Lake Placid was preparing
a bid for the Winter Olympics so they
commenced their campaign around the idea of the
Olympics. Los Angeles had already been awarded
the summer Games in 1925. The Chamber of
Commerce had organized a Winter Sports Committee
to promote enthusiasm to get a local organization
to put a bid together. Two areas prepared a
bid to host the Olympics - Yosemite and Tahoe,
with Big Pines fronted by the Los Angeles 10th
Olympiad committee. But the Winter Olympics
were no longer awarded to the Summer host automatically.
California was thought to be the land of
sunshine and deficient in ski areas of adequate scale
and reputation. Lake Placid was awarded the 1932
Winter Olympics in April, 1929. But, California
needed to get on the scoreboard for skiing. So Wendell
Robie of Auburn Ski Club and Lake Tahoe Ski
Club went into a maximum effort to get approval
from the National Ski Association for a national
championship in 1932 which would draw international
competitors from the just-completed
Olympics. US competitors for Lake Placid were selected
in contests in 1931 on the Olympic Hill sites
selected for the National Championships. Wendell
Robie organized and directed the 1931 events and
provided his expertise to the 1932 events as well.
This early experience with the inadequacy of
California's ski facilities made an impression on the
Chamber of Commerce and the founders of CSA.
The CSA 1939 Articles of Incorporation have two
general statements and its bylaws name a unique
committee to carry out area development. This initiative
was unique among the divisions of the National
Ski Association.
Article 2 (b) To take an active civic interest
in and to encourage, develop and maintain the
sport of skiing as a healthful outdoor recreation.
Article 2 (f) to cooperate, if requested with
any governmental or other agency engaged in activities
affecting the sport of skiing and winter
sports, to the end that the public at large may obtain
the fullest appropriate use and enjoyment of areas
particularly adapted to wintertime use and recreation.
History
Chair, FWSA: President, FWSF
More directly, Resolution 11 from the 1940
CSA Annual Convention states: " That the CSA
urge that the Director of the Budget include in the annual
budget for the United States Forest Service adequate funds for
the development of winter and summer recreational facilities
and activities and that copies of this resolution be transmitted
to the Director of the Budget, the Chief of the Forest Service,
the Regional Forester of Region 5, USFS, the California
Representatives in the Congress of the United States, and to
the President of the National Ski Association of America. "
And further, from Article 2 of the FWSA
1983 restated Articles:...to cooperate with, assist and actively
promote public and governmental recognition of the inherent
values of the sport of skiing to the end that the public
at large obtains the greatest appropriate use and enjoyment of
public lands particularly adapted to winter recreational sports.
The reason for this area development flavor
in CSA documents lay in the recognition that in
order for California to be recognized as an international
center for skiing required more lift-served
facilities to serve the rapidly expanding skier population,
an objective shared by both skiers and developers.
There were tourism dollars to be made,
the roads into the ski sites were being cleared in
winter with more being built and personal equipment
and technology was becoming increasingly
available. There were ski clubs being formed as
early as 1923. Skiing was in its first big expansion.
But, the potential sites for ski area development
were either on public lands or at least partly so.
The CSA/FWSA area development program was
to be greatly challenged in the years to come.
Terrains and sites adapted for skiing were
being explored by a number of investigators in the
years 1920-1940, including Mt. San Gorgonio,
Mineral King, and many other sites in the Sierra
Nevada Mountains. In 1973, FWSA's Public Lands
Committee, chaired by Royall Brown, researched
the files of the USFS, did map studies and estimated
that there were probably over 25 areas in California
alone having some merit for skiing. These reports
were used as a basis for further assessment of the
feasibility, desirability and environmental impact of
ski development of many sites. More detailed assessments
by FWSA often included on site or helicopter
skier reconnaissance to augment that of the
USFS and industry interests.
Skiing's modern growth proceeded rapidly
and skiers in various parts of California, Nevada
and the Pacific Northwest began to look at
expanding skiing to some impressive new sites. This
growth, interrupted by WW II, resumed after the
38 FWSA 90th Anniversary Booklet / 1930 - 2020
war with even greater enthusiasm, fueled by the activities
of returning 10th Mountain Division
troopers and the westward population waves arriving
in California. The demand for skiing climbed
for 50 years fueling a huge ski industry. Skiing as
mass recreation on a national scale had arrived.
When the annual increases in skier days leveled off,
only then did skiing opportunities began to be satisfied
by availability.
For the skiers of the 50s and 60s, the ski areas
were never big or numerous enough. So the pressure
from 1930, and that in the later decades,
changed from inadequacy to even greater inadequacy
for comfortable recreational skiing. And, as
the population exploded, it then became partly a
matter of on-hill safety from overcrowding. Refer
to the data on ski club and membership growth, as
well as, development of ski areas in the " How California
Became a World Class Skier's Paradise " and
" Tracks: The 90 Year Journey of the FWSA " essays.
Out west, ski areas were established more with
public land, mainly Forest Service administered,
than with private land. And, ski areas needed to
clear timber for downhill ski runs on public land,
they needed treatment facilities, were aesthetically
challenged in their construction phases and sometimes
even when complete, disturbed the animals
who lived there and brought people to remote
places in increasing numbers.
The Sierra Club and the Mountaineers in
Washington provided outings and exploration of
the wild places and developed memberships based
on appreciation of Nature. This included skiing.
The Sierra Club still conducts its Outings program.
But early on it began to push back on activity which
they thought affronted Nature. Their political move
in opposition to the Hetch-Hetchy Reservoir (190313)
was a first display of the Sierra Club's intent to
take political positions which supported their philosophy.
They backed these up with political influence
and money. Later, litigation became their
most effective tool to press their views.
So the stage was set for conflict between environment,
ecology, membership appeal and philosophy
on the one hand and the allure of winter
tourism business, the aspiration of becoming recognized
internationally for skiing, need for vastly improved
opportunities for lift-served skiing, and
finally, servicing an explosive growth in skier
numbers while skiing safely on the slopes. The focus
of many of the disputes lay in the use and management
of public lands. There came more than four
decades of battles over land use - in the press and

The Far West Ski Association Turns 90

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of The Far West Ski Association Turns 90

Index
The Far West Ski Association Turns 90 - Cover1
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The Far West Ski Association Turns 90 - 1
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