Snapshots in Time -- Skiing History, May/June 2014

75 Years Ago
ARISTOCRAT DEVELOPER WAS SEARCHING. In Reno, Nevada, a Pan American pilot by the name of Wayne Poulsen showed me a nearby place called Squaw Valley, which was up for sale at the time, 1939. It was a lovely little valley, completely unspoiled, and the land could be had for a pittance. I took an option but in the end decided not to follow up on it. Years later, when I came back to ski there, I found the valley completely spoiled, with acres of parking lots. The romantic beauty of the place was ruined. I cannot say that I ever regretted having passed on the Squaw Valley project.  — No Risk, No Fun, by Baron Hubert von Pantz (Vantage Press, 1986) (Von Pantz went on to build the Mittersill resort at Franconia, NH).  
60 Years Ago
THE RUSSIANS ARE COMING! The 1954 FIS World Nordic Ski Championships marked the first international participation by Soviet skiers. Falun, Sweden had eagerly awaited the arrival of the Russians. Mystery was added when a team of 51 arrived by special plane—almost half of ’em officials (“observers,” said the Reds, “spies,” said the Swedes). The Russian cross-country skiers gold-medaled in four of six races, aided by a mysterious, synthetic wax. —Frank Elkins, American Ski Annual and Skiing Journal (1955) 
55 Years Ago
CAFÉ SOCIETY MIGRATES TO GREEN MOUNTAINS. Armando Cocchi Orisni, whose Manhattan restaurant is a favorite meeting place of celebrities, has opened “Orsini’s in Vermont” at Sugarbush, Vermont. The nightclub-bar-restaurant occupies a renovated century-old barn. —SKI Magazine (January 1959)
COACH, PUBLISHER BATTLE. Willy Schaeffler (Denver University coach and director of ski events for the 1960 Winter Olympics at Squaw Valley) reported on a meeting with Merrill Hastings, publisher of National Skiing Magazine. “Mr. Hastings informed me that wanted me to use all my influence to…have him appointed to the Ski Events Advisory Committee. He said the appointment would be of great advantage to him in contacting prospective advertisers as he would be able to talk with them with much more authority. Since I immediately objected to such a proposal, he told me I would suffer tremendously in my position as a ski official, a teacher and coach.” Schaeffler’s memo prompted Hastings to file a $60,000 libel suit against him. —SKI Magazine (February 1959)
30 Years Ago
ARE GREAT CHAMPIONS SHY? Ingemar Stenmark’s tenacity and mental stamina were greater than those of any racer of our era. It wasn’t his technique—he just wanted to win more than anyone else…Stenmark, Gustavo Thoeni, Pirmin Zurbriggen were intensely quiet, shy. Ingemar is very withdrawn too. It may be that there is a correlation between shyness—being withdrawn—and winning. —Phil and Steve Mahre, No Hill Too Fast (Simon & Schuster, 1985)
25 Years Ago
LEGAL LIABILITY CONCERNS SOAR. The exercise of caution throughout skiing has reached sublime levels. High schools are refusing to field ski teams or sponsor club trips. Some kid could get hurt and sue the school district. Equipment reps sit for hours in meetings with dull and complex matters. Too risky not to. Ski areas call their lawyers before changing a bolt in a lift or a word in their brochures. —I. William Berry, SKI Magazine (January 1989)
NEW: A STEEL SKI. A radically designed new ski, made from stainless steel, may be on the market next season. Among the backers of the Volant ski, which would be made in Reno or Boulder, are Hank and Bucky Kashiwa (former K2 designer), Jack Beattie (brother of Bob), and Jean-Claude Killy. —John Fry, Ski Area Management (January 1989) 
20 Years Ago
INVASION OF THE CELEBS. Aspen has long co-existed gracefully with celebrities, but last winter’s opening of Planet Hollywood overdosed the community. Locals could have shrugged off the stretch Range Rovers that deposited luminaries at the nightclub. And they could have forgiven the hundreds of fans who chanted “Rocky! Rocky! Rocky!” at Sylvester Stallone who, with Arnold Schwarzenegger and Bruce Willis, is one of the Planet Hollywood chain’s principals. But then “Sly” called Aspen “Hollywood in the mountains,” and Steven Seagal said he would never go to Aspen for peace and quiet. “Things like this make us want to bury our heads,” said Aspen Skico spokesperson Killeen Russell. – Snow Country, (May/June, 1994)