The Far West Ski Association Turns 90 - 67

Norwegian Stein
Eriksen, winner of an
Olympic gold medal
in the 1952 Olympics,
taught at Sun Valley
after the Games.
Eriksen had been a
gymnast as a child,
and he performed
somersaults every
Sunday on Bald
Mountain's Ridge
Run on the flat area
before reaching
Rock Garden,
entertaining many
interested spectators,
circa 1953. Warren
Miller filmed
Stein teaching
Christian Pravda
and Jack Reddish
how to do a forward
somersault on skis. "
of every tennis player to compete once at Wimbledon, it is every skier's hope to participate in the famous Harriman Cup
Races at Sun Valley " . U.S. Olympic teams for the 1948 and 1952 Games were selected at Sun Valley, and
trained there afterwards. Best known is Gretchen Fraser, who in 1948, won a gold and silver medal at St.
Moritz, the first American to win an Olympic medal in skiing.
Averell Harriman began full time war service in June 1940. After the war, he became President
Truman's Secretary of Commerce, severed his ties with Union Pacific, and never again played a major
role in its management. This was a turning point for Sun Valley, since the resort was Harriman's pet project,
never fully supported by railroad management. After serving as a Naval Rehabilitation Hospital during
WWII, Sun Valley reopened in December 1946, but it never regained the status it had before the war.
It attracted skiers from a broader range of social and economic levels, not just the rich and famous, and
focused on convention business. Increasing competition from airlines and cars caused rail passenger traffic
to plunge, and Union Pacific began to reduce its subsidy to the resort during the 1950s. Its glory began
to fade, although Sun Valley continued to be the country's primary destination ski resort and center of
ski racing, and employed some of the world's best skiers in its ski school, such as Stein Eriksen, Christian
Pravda and others.
Sun Valley brought European skiing ambiance to America. Illustrating its international influence,
in 1950, an Austrian newspaper said with the help of the Marshall Plan, its Arlberg region could become
" Austria's Sun Valley " .
Sun Valley has had three owners since December, 1936. Each showered the resort with love, support
and money (at least for Union Pacific when Harriman was involved), with each owner taking it to a different
level. The Janss Company, and later Bill Janss who acquired the resort from his family's company, made
significant investments into the Sun Valley Village and the mountain, and developed condominiums, making
it a year-around attraction. However, Janss lacked the capital to take it to the next level, and sought
a buyer who had the resources to continue development of the resort.
In 1977, Janss sold Sun Valley to the Holding family, owners of Sinclair Oil Company, who made
Sun Valley one of the premier year-around resorts in the country and restored its international status.
However, unlike the 1930s and 1940s, when Sun Valley was the only high-end ski destination resort, it
shares its position in a highly competitive business with other resorts started after WWII.
Ski Magazine's 2020 Resort Guide rated Sun Valley the number two resort in the West for the fifth
year in a row, one of the most consistent resorts in its survey, with " an impressive " seven No. 1 category
rankings - Lifts, Service, Lodging, Down Day Activities, Family, Charm, and Overall Satisfaction. That's
the most No.1s of any resort - West or East. " If there was a ranking for ski history, Sun Valley would be No. 1! " n
The Intermountain Ski Council
joined the
Far West Ski Association
in 2007.. States within ISC include
Idaho, Utah, Wyoming and
South Dakota.
About the Author:
John W. Lundin's great-grandparents moved to
Bellevue, Idaho, in 1881. They were early pioneers in the
Wood River Valley, and John has done extensive research
about the history of the area. His two books about Sun
Valley and the Wood River Valley were published in 2020.
Sun Valley, Ketchum and the Wood River Valley,
an images of America series book, describes the history
of the Wood River Valley from its mining days and the
arrival of the railroad, through the sheep raising and
agricultural era, to the development of the Sun Valley
Resort, using 200 historic pictures. Skiing Sun Valley:
a History from Union Pacific to the Holdings, is an
in-depth history of the Sun Valley Resort using original
Union Pacific materials, oral histories from people involved
with the resort from its beginning, other contemporaneous
documents, and 180 historic pictures. The books are
available from local and national bookstores. John was
scheduled to give the First John Fry Memorial lecture on
Early Sun Valley, Union Pacific, Averell Harriman
and Alf Engen, to the joint meeting of the US Ski and
Snowboard Hall of Fame and International Ski Hall of
Fame in Sun Valley in March 2020, but the meeting was
cancelled because of COVID-19.
John is helping to prepare an exhibit on the history
of ski jumping in Washington with the National Nordic
Museum and Washington State Ski and Snowboard
Museum, scheduled to open in January, 2021. John's book,
Ski Jumping in Washington - a Nordic Tradition,
published by History Press, will be part of the exhibit,
with profits going to both museums.
FWSA 90th Anniversary Booklet / 1930 - 2020 67

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
The Far West Ski Association Turns 90 - 3
The Far West Ski Association Turns 90 - Index
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