The Far West Ski Association Turns 90 - 63

In February 1916, Seattle's Norwegian businessmen
held an exhibition to demonstrate the
" Scandinavian sport " of ski jumping on Queen Anne
Hill, following the heaviest snowfall in two decades.
More than a dozen " crack jumpers " went off a ski
jump built on Queen Anne Avenue, one of the
steepest hills in the city. The exhibition was so successful
that midsummer ski jumping tournaments
were held from 1917 to 1924, at Paradise Valley on
Mount Rainier over the July 4th holiday. A crosscountry
race was added in 1922. Olga Bolstad, a
22 year old " girl ski jumper " from Norway, won the
1917 tournament, and was called " Champion of the
Pacific Coast on Skis " . The best jumpers from the
Northwest and Canada competed.
In 1913-1914, The Mountaineers began
holding annual Winter Outings at Mount Rainier
National Park. In 1914, the club built a lodge just
west of Snoqualmie Pass summit, used for climbing
and later what we would describe as back-country
skiing. In 1928, The Mountaineers built Meany
Ski Hut at Martin, the Northern Pacific stop near
Stampede Pass. The club marked many miles of
cross-country trails, and between 1930 and WWII,
sponsored 20-mile long Patrol Races along the
crest of the Cascades from its Lodge to its Ski Hut,
called the country's longest and hardest race.
The Cle Elum Ski Club formed in 1921, east
of Snoqualmie Pass, and from 1924 to 1933, held
ski jumping tournaments that attracted many of
the Northwest's best competitors and 3,000 - 5,000
spectators. In 1931, the club built a lodge on a
ridge two miles north of Cle Elum on Northern
Pacific land, a two mile uphill hike. In 1929, the
club built a giant new jump, with " one of the steepest
takeoffs in the world...one of the most hazardous in the
world, 6% steeper than any in Norway, which was the center
of ski jumping, " according to the Seattle Times. It was
enlarged even more in 1932.
In the late 1920s and early 1930s, new ski
clubs formed around ski jumping, built ski jumps
and hosted tournaments.
In 1927, the Mt. Baker Ski Club formed
after the Mount Baker Lodge and a new highway
were built. It held a jumping tournament in 1930,
and one featuring uphill, downhill and cross-country
races in 1931. A fire destroyed the lodge in August,
1931; setting back skiing there for years. The
club held a two-day slalom tournament in May,
1935.
In 1928, the Leavenworth Winter Sports
Club formed, east of Stevens Pass on a Great
Northern Railway stop, built a ski jump, and held
a tournament in 1929. In 1930, the club built a
jump in a different location. Its big ski jump was
built in 1933, later named after Hermod and Magnus
Bakke, long time club supporters. The hill was
redesigned several times, becoming one of the best
ski jumps in the western United States.
Alpine Skiing Emerges
Starting in the winter of 1931, the road over
Snoqualmie pass was plowed during the winter. By
1934, the entire highway had been paved, offering
better access from Seattle.
In 1930, The Mountaineers began downhill
and slalom races, said by the Seattle Times to be the
start of this kind of racing in the Pacific Northwest.
In 1928, Portland's Cascade Ski Club organized,
and built a ski jump on Mt. Hood on a natural
hill with a " cribbage of timbers used to sustain the
takeoff geometry " . It held its first tournament in
1929, and in 1930, hosted the first Pacific Northwestern
Ski Association sanctioned jumping championship.
The
Seattle Ski Club was formed by Norwegian
immigrants in 1929, who built a ski jump at
Beaver Lake, 1½ miles uphill from Snoqualmie
Pass, using the hill's natural slope for the inrun and
outrun. The club's 1931 tournament was the regional
tryout for the U.S. team for the 1932 Olympic
games at Lake Placid, New York, included
jumping and cross country skiing, and attracted
10,000 spectators. In 1931, the club improved its
jump to be " one of the best in the United States, with the
sheerest pitch of any in America " , with " one of the steepest
landings in the world, a hill three or four degrees steeper than
the famous Holmenkollen Hill in Norway " , according to
the Seattle Times.
The Spokane Ski Club formed in 1929, and
in 1932, built a lodge on Mt. Spokane. The club
hosted a jumping tournament in 1933, that attracted
25,000 spectators, and others in 1934 and
1938, and a downhill and slalom tournament in
1937. The club installed a rope tow for 1937, the
first in the state. A new ski jump was built on Mt.
Spokane in 1948, and the club hosted the Esmeralda
Tournaments from 1948 to1953, and the
last one in 1955.
Ski clubs were formed in Ellensburg, Yakima
and elsewhere to provide skiing for members and
occasional tournaments.
Soon, ski jumpers had a circuit of tournaments
- at Cle Elum; the Seattle Ski Club's jump
on Snoqualmie Summit; Leavenworth Winter
Sports Club's jump; and Cascade Ski Club's jump
on Mount Hood. Competitors and thousands of
hardy spectators went from one tournament to
another, braving long drives and harsh weather,
hiking through snow to reach the jumping sites,
and standing outside for hours, often in snowstorms.
In
1930, the Pacific Northwestern Ski Association
(PNSA) was organized to sponsor regional
jumping and cross-country competitions and coordinate
calendars. It later established standards for
ski instructors, pioneered their testing, and was the
regional organization for the National Ski Association
for sanctioned Northwest ski competitions.
A number of private ski clubs and lodges were built
on Snoqualmie Pass in the early 1930s. They held
regular ski competitions against each other that
were covered by Seattle newspapers.
In 1933, a slalom racing series began at Paradise
on Mount Rainier on Sundays, organized by
Ben Thompson, who was in charge of winter
sports operations. Some of the Northwest's best
skiers came out of the series, including Don Fraser,
Darroch Crookes, Don Amick and Gretchen Kunigk
(later Fraser), who became members of U.S.
Olympic ski teams. In winter 1933-1934, cabins
and rooms at Paradise Lodge were leased for the
winter for $30 to $60, and over 400 reservations
were made. Paradise Inn was remodeled in 1936.
Rainier became the skiing center for Tacoma residents,
and the site for Seattle's Junior Chamber of
Commerce spring annual carnivals. Several proposals
were made to install a tram from Paradise
to Camp Muir.
The year 1934, was an important one for
Washington skiing. The Seattle Parks Department
opened the Municipal Ski Park on Snoqualmie
Pass, after the CCC cleared a narrow run and built
a warming hut. It attracted many new skiers, as
well as spectators who came to watch the athletes.
Ray Anderson and Ben Thomson formed a partnership
to make ski equipment in Seattle, producing
A & T skis. PNSA added slalom racing to its
schedule, expanding its charter beyond Nordic
events, as the event had " caught on by wildfire " . The
Seattle Ski club's tournament featured jumping, a
cross-country race, and the first PNSA sanctioned
slalom race. The University of Washington Ski
Club was formed. The Seattle Times said 2,500
skiers were in local ski clubs, 3,000 to 5,000 spectators
attended ski jumping events at Snoqualmie
Pass, and 10,000 persons participated in some form
of winter sports every weekend.
In April 1934, the Silver Skis race on Mount
Rainier began, sponsored by the Seattle P.I., which
become the Northwest's most iconic race. Competitors
hiked from Paradise Lodge at 5,400 feet,
up to Camp Muir at 10,000 feet. They then skied
down in a virtually uncontrolled schuss nearly four
miles, to finish near Paradise, dropping 1,424 feet
in every mile skied, reaching speeds of " slightly better
than sixty miles an hour " before they traveled 300
yards. Seattle's Don Fraser won the first race, with
64 racers starting and 43 finishing, and won again
in 1938. The race was held from 1934-1942, and
1946 - 1948, attracting top competitors from all
over the country.
In 1935, Washington skiing got a major boost
as the National Downhill and Slalom Championships
and Tryouts for the US Olympic Ski Team
for the 1936 Games in Germany, were held on Mt.
Rainier. Tacoma's Ethelynne " Skit " Smith won the
women's National Slalom title, and her sister Ellis
Ayr, won the Combined National Championship
FWSA 90th Anniversary Booklet / 1930 - 2020 63

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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