The Far West Ski Association Turns 90 - 64

title. The U.S. Forest Service spent $35,000 building
warming huts at Leavenworth and Mount
Baker. A shelter was built at McClure's Rock on
Mount Rainier, " a welcome protection for high altitude
skiers " .
The 1936 Winter Olympics at Garmisch,
Germany, featured Alpine skiing for the first time,
with downhill and slalom racing and a combined
event (downhill and slalom), along with Nordic events.
Five Washington skiers were on the Olympic team
- Tacoma's Ethelynne " Skit " and Ellis-Ayr Smith,
and Seattle's Grace Carter, Darroch Crookes, and
Don Fraser.
In December, 1936, Union Pacific Railroad
opened its Sun Valley Resort, built for $1.5 million
dollars in the remote mountains of Idaho. It was
the country's first destination ski resort, with an
ultra-modern lodge, chair lifts invented by U.P.
engineers based on a system to load bananas onto
boats, and a ski school with Austrian instructors
that made skiing sexy, changing U.S. skiing forever.
The resort attracted skiers from all over the world,
including Hollywood movie stars, socialites, New
York businessmen, and legions of Seattle area residents.
Sun Valley became Seattle's " back yard " . Seattle
newspapers regularly reported on its races and
the large number of locals who traveled there to ski
and vacation. Sun Valley became the country's ski
racing center, and many Washington skiers competed
in races there. Skiers began lobbying for ski
lifts to be installed in Washington.
In 1937, ski instructor, Otto Lang, started the
country's first official Hannes Schneider Ski School
on Mount Rainier, bringing the latest ski techniques
to the Northwest, later expanded to Mt. Baker and
Mt. Hood. In December, Norwegian ski jumping
star Olav Ulland moved to Seattle to coach local
jumpers. Ulland, who competed for Norway from
1929 to 1936, was the first to break the 100-meter
mark by jumping 103 meters in 1935, and became
a mainstay of Northwest skiing.
The period from 1938 to WWII was a seminal
time for Washington skiing, which the Seattle Times
said was " the greatest skiing area in North America " .
For the winter of 1938, Ski Lifts, Inc., installed
and operated rope tows at Mount Rainier,
Snoqualmie Summit, and Mount Baker, providing
an alternative to walking up the hills. The Municipal
Ski Park 1,000-foot long tow cost 10 cents a ride
or $1 for all day. " Skiers could get downhill training without
the long uphill climbs and sudden, weary-legged returns. "
The Milwaukee Railroad opened its Snoqualmie
Ski Bowl (later renamed Milwaukee Ski Bowl), at
Hyak east of Snoqualmie Pass in 1938, offering access
by train from Seattle in two hours. The Ski
Bowl had the Northwest's first over-head cable lift
(a J-bar called a Sun Valley type lift without chairs), a
modern ski lodge, lighted slopes for night skiing,
and it dramatically changed the area's ski scene.
Ski trains had reserved seats, a baggage car with ski
Seattle's
Olav
Ulland and
Portland's
Hjalmar
Hvam
entertain
spectators
by doing
tandem
somersaults
after the
1938
Silver Skis
Race on
Mount
Rainier.
Tacoma Public
Library, Richards
Studio.
racks and waxing tables, and a recreation car for
dancing. The Seattle Times offered free ski lessons
for Seattle high school students, to learn " controlled
skiing " .
The Stevens Pass ski area was started in
winter 1937-38, after Chambers of Commerce
from Everett and Wenatchee bought 100 acres of
land for the area. A rope tow was installed, costing
5 cents per ride. The Forest Service built a $10,000
lodge using " 30 CCC boys aided by skilled workmen, "
that was dedicated in December, 1938; although it
burned down in 1940, and rebuilt after the war.
In March, 1938, two famous Ruud brothers
from Kongsberg, Norway, Birger (Olympic gold medal
winner in 1932 and 1936) and Sigmund (Olympic silver
in1928), toured the United States, participating in
numerous jumping tournaments, including one
hosted by the Seattle Ski Club at Snoqualmie Summit.
Showing the dominance of that country's
jumpers, seven of the 16 competitors were from
Kongsberg. Birger won the tournament in front of
4,000 spectators.
In 1940, the Seattle Parks Department got
out of the ski area business, concluding that Snoqualmie
Pass was too far away for a city park. Ski
Lifts, Inc. took over the ski area's operations, and
renamed it Snoqualmie Pass Ski Area.
From 1940 until WWII, there were a number
of epic battles for new distance records between
Sun Valley's Alf Engen and Torger Tokle (member
of the Norway Ski Club of New York), a recent immigrant
and rising jumping star.
Alf Engen won the 1940 Pacific Northwest
Championship Tournament at Leavenworth,
jumping 252 feet, thought at first to be a new national
distance record.
The year's biggest tournament was the 1940
National Four-Way Championship Tournament.
Downhill and slalom races were held on Mount
Baker, the cross-country race on Snoqualmie Pass,
and the jumping competition at the Milwaukee Ski
Bowl, on a new giant ski-jump built for the event.
64 FWSA 90th Anniversary Booklet / 1930 - 2020
The best skiers in the county competed. Seattle's
Sigurd Hall won the downhill race, Alf
Engen was third, but won the slalom. In the jumping
event, Torger Tokle had longer jumps than
Engen, but Engen won on form points. Showing
he was an all-around skier, Alf Engen won the
Four-Way Championship. Engen's brother Sverre
was second, Sigurd Hall, third, and Portland's Hjalmar
Hvan, fourth. Hall was tragically killed the following
month in the Silver Skis race on Mt.
Rainier, when he hit some rocks after skiing into a
fog bank.
In February, 1941, at Iron Mountain, Michigan,
Alf Engen jumped 267 feet to set a new the
North American distance record. His success was
short-lived.
Two hours later at Leavenworth,
Washington, Torger Tokle exceeded Engen's distance,
setting a new record of 273 feet. At the National
Jumping Championships at the Milwaukee
Ski Bowl in March, 1941, Tokle, jumped 288 feet,
to set his second North American distance record
in less than a month. Alf Engen was second. Showing
the level of competition, six jumpers at the
tournament were later inducted into the U.S. Ski
and Snowboard Hall of Fame.
In 1941, nearly one-half million people went
to Washington's mountain resorts. Skiing was a $1
million industry and there were 65,000 local skiers
in Western Washington. Tokle set another distance
record in 1942, jumping 289 feet at Iron Mountain,
Michigan, with Engen finishing fourth.
World War II changed everything. Skiing
stopped as men went off to war, and women had
to deal with war-time living conditions that included
rationing of items such as gasoline and tires.
U.S. Army Mountain Troops trained at Mount
Rainier from 1940 to 1942, before moving to
Camp Hale, Colorado, in 1943, and local ski clubs
taught soldiers and sailors how to ski on Snoqualmie
Pass. Snoqualmie Pass was the only ski area to
remain open, as skiers shared their gas ration coupons
to drive there. In 1945, Torger Tokle was

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
The Far West Ski Association Turns 90 - Cover2
The Far West Ski Association Turns 90 - 1
The Far West Ski Association Turns 90 - 2
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The Far West Ski Association Turns 90 - Index
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