ISHA Marks 25th Anniversary

Mason Beekley’s lifelong passion led to the founding of ISHA during the winter of 1990–91. Skiing History Week 2017 will mark the 25th annual awards banquet.

By Seth Masia

Mason Beekley’s great passion was skiing, skiing history, and ski books and art. A patroller and instructor in his youth, he steered his family’s business to success in a medical supply specialty (he invented a way to label X-ray images for accurate interpretation), and that success enabled him to become the leading collector of skiing-related books, art and sculpture in North America.

According to Mort Lund, writing in Skiing Heritage on the occasion of ISHA’s tenth anniversary, Beekley corresponded with a group of seven other ski-book collectors. Early in 1990, when his collection outgrew his Connecticut house, Beekley built the “Ski Aerie,” an adjacent library and museum large enough to house his collection and host meetings of his book-trading friends and other interested skiers. That group, he thought, might even become the core of a new organization that would encourage more research into skiing’s history. He proposed the name International Skiing History Association. During a ski trip to Aspen, he broached the idea to Dick Durrance, who thought it was “a hell of an idea.” 

Beekley got busy that spring. He invited three dozen well-known skiers and ski writers, from across North America and Europe, to join him as co-founders. Lund pointed out that the recorded history of the sport was “full of holes.” No one had published biographies on dozens of famous skiers, or recounted the stories of important institutions; even much of the competition history was unrecorded. At the very least, Beekley wanted ISHA to publish a quarterly newsletter as a platform for new articles on historical subjects. He recruited Glenn Parkinson’s new publication Ski News to serve as “The Official Publication of the International Skiing History Association,” and sent the first issue of the newly reincarnated newsletter out to the founders. 


On May 14, 1991, Beekley chaired a steering committee meeting at the Hanover Inn in New Hampshire, to begin formal business proceedings. The committee included Rick Moulton, Gloria Chadwick, Glenn Parkinson, Penny Pitou, Sel Hannah and Al Sise. A month later, Beekley asked the 36 founders to recruit their friends. The result was a Charter Membership of about 150 prominent skiers. ISHA was off and running. 

The first Annual Gathering convened in April, 1991, at Whistler, British Columbia. Organized by Doug Pfeiffer, the gathering included ISHA president Mason Beekley and his wife Licia, Mort Lund, Andrea Mead Lawrence, Penny Pitou, Glenn and Donna Parkinson, Kazuo Ogawa, John O’Meara, Ekkhart Ulmrich, Ginny Pfeiffer, Worthington Mixer, and Mick Hull. In April 1993, ISHA’s Second Annual Gathering, at Sugarbush, Vermont, presented the first annual ISHA Awards, to Sir Arnold Lunn and John Henry Auran, for Lifetime Achievement in Ski Journalism. In February 1994, Beekley asked Mort Lund to take over operation of the newsletter, to be renamed (at John Fry’s suggestion) Skiing Heritage (and renamed Skiing History in 2013). The eight-page newsletter became a 36-page magazine, aiming to fill those “holes” in the sport’s history. All the pieces were in place. ISHA transitioned to a dues-paying nonprofit organization, gradually growing independent of Mason Beekley’s private financial support. 

Mason Beekley died in August of 2001, after a long battle with cancer. He lived to see ISHA celebrate its tenth anniversary, with nearly 2,000 members worldwide: a vital nonprofit charitable organization with a highly-respected magazine and its own Website, As we mark ISHA’s 25th anniversary, this magazine serves as Beekley’s enduring gift to the sport.  

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