Cross-Country Downhill, 1915
A Selective Chronology of Nordic Skiing, PART II
By Jeff Leich, New England Ski Museum
(Continued from PART I)
By Jeff Leich, New England Ski Museum
(Continued from PART I)
1905: “In 1905, five clubs founded the National Ski Association of America. Two years later there were
twenty-seven, all but one in the Midwest.”
Allen, Culture and Sport of Skiing, 220.
1905: Four years after its origin, the club’s name was change to the “Berlin Mills Ski Club”; and in 1905
to the “Skiklubben Fritjof Nansen” in honor of the intrepid explorer who used skis on the first trip across
Nansen Ski Club, “1938 Eastern Elimination Contests”, New England Ski Museum Collection 1983L.098.001.
1909: “For it was at Vermont Academy on Lincoln’s Birthday in 1909 that the first Carnival was held, a
full year prior to the first Dartmouth Carnival…
There were both snowshoe and ski races. There were races for both distance and speed. There were gliding
races on skis. And the most fun of al were the obstacle races where the contestants went over coal piles,
through barrels, and under fences. Even then, as today, the most thrilling event was ski jumping.
The Carnival came about when “Pop” Taylor…felt that competition would stir more students to come out
and enjoy the beauty of winter.
Robert M. Campbell, “Grand-Daddy of Winter Carnivals”, American Ski Annual and Skiing Journal XXXVII, 3 (February 1953), 43.
After World War I: “During the 1914-1918 conflict, Nansen…led the Norwegian delegation to the
League of Nations. He became exactly the right man to head food relief to Russia since recognition of the
Bolshevik government was quite impossible by the West. He was also given charge of the repatriation of
prisoners, almost half of which were Russian, and then to deal with the famine.
His organizing of food relief for the new Soviet Union placed him in political and diplomatic jeopardy but
he was successful. As High Commissioner for the repatriation of prisoners and the First World War, and
with the creation of the Nansen passports for refugees, he is remembered worldwide.”
Allen, Culture and Sport of Skiing, 57.
1922: “The world recognized his (Nansen’s) efforts in awarding him the Nobel Peace Prize in 1922.”
Allen, Culture and Sport of Skiing, 57.
1923: Winged Ski Trail from Brattleboro VT was partially cut. “A party of nine members of the
Brattleboro Outing Club marked between five and six miles of the Winged Ski trail yesterday with the
three-inch discs which will eventually mark the trail from the Brooks House to the Somerset reservoir,
where it joins the Long Trail”.
“Mark Section of Winged Ski Trail”, unknown newspaper, April 3, 1923, Fred Harris Scrapbooks, NESM Collection 1982L.016.006
March 1924: “Five young Brattleboro high school students, members of the Brattleboro Outing club,
who left Brattleboro last week Monday Afternoon at 2 o’clock for Rutland on a skiing trip over the Winged
Ski Trail, arrived in Rutland Friday evening somewhat tired but enthusiastic over their first ski trip which
averaged about 105 miles and during which several thrilling experiences were had”.
“Brattleboro Ski Party Lost Trail in Stratton”, unknown newspaper, March 7, 1924, Fred Harris Scrapbooks, NESM Collection 1982L.016.006
1926: “Alf Halvorsen—ever one to publicize Berlin—dreamed up the idea of having a ski race to
celebrate the opening of the Berlin Winter Carnival in February 1926. Bob Reid, then 24 years old, and
Helmar Oakerlund, a 38-year-old Swede, both belonging to the Nansen Club, were the only contestants.
…Thankfully on Friday the 13th the weather cleared. Reid led Oakerlund the 25 miles to Bethel where they
bedded down for the night. The next day the “race” began in earnest, and at 3:37 PM Bob Reid crossed the
line in front of the Berlin City Hall to the plaudits of the crowd and the delight of the newspapermen.
Oakerlund, giving away fourteen years don’t forget, was only eight minutes behind. Halvorsen got more
publicity than he bargained for, the Berlin Carnival was a grand success, but the overwhelming difficulties
of the race made it clear that it should not be an annual fixture.”
E. John B. Allen, “Skiing: A Hundred Miles of Hell”, Magnetic North, 4, 3 (Winter 1986), 37, 40.
1929: “Skiing has come to be known chiefly thru ski jumping, as far as organized tournaments ae
concerned. Too much credit cannot be given for the skill and courage required to make a successful ski
jumper. Much of the thrill of those loving ski tournaments centers in the jump. However, the skill of crosscountry
racing has been too much overlooked. …Too little attention has been given—too little attention
even now is being given—to cross-country running. In many clubs today the exclusive attention is paid to
ski jumping. …Proof that this country is deficient in cross-country racers is not difficult to find. Most
European countries outdistance the teams of the United States in the winter Olympic cross-country races.
Tournament after tournament in the different divisions of the United States recognized by the National Ski
Association makes no pretense of scheduling ski races. In most of the local ski clubs training of skiers is
ignored or receives little intelligent consideration. Fortunately in a few communities the leaders recognize
the superior character of a skiing program including both ski running and ski jumping…”
Harry Wade Hicks, “The Next Twenty-five Years”, US Eastern Amateur Ski Association Year Book (1929), 25.
1930: “Then the FIS duly reconsidered the Alpine events at its next conference, on 24 February 1930 in
Oslo…During the 1929 fixture at Zakopane, a gloomy and scattered resort in the Polish Tatra mountains,
the FIS had run a downhill race as a demonstration event. ...As a result of the Zakopane experiment, when
the FIS met in 1930, opposition to the straight downhill had subsided. The slalom remained the issue.
…Holmquist, Østgaard and Hamilton were, after all, men of the world. Since the turn of the century, they
had been in the Alps and recognized that different terrain bred different styles not to mention different
personalities. No doubt they rued the spread of skiing and would have preferred to keep it under control as
a private badge of national identity. Now that it had escaped, it had taken on a life of its own. They decided
to live and let live. If the British and Alpine countries wished to rumba down the slalom to perdition, that
was their concern. The Norwegians, Swedes and Finns, having privately agreed, washed their hands of the
affair. Both Alpine events were recognized without dissent.
From start to finish, Arnold Lunn had not spoken a word, on the floor that is. He had been muzzled by a
Swiss called Walter Amstutz, the power behind the throne. …Quietly, behind the scenes, like the Swiss he
was, he exerted more influence than the combative Lunn himself. In Oslo, it was their jointly conceived
rules that the FIS accepted”.
Huntford, Two Planks and a Passion, 344-345.
1930: “Thus the 1930 FIS meeting had high potential for misunderstanding and even anger, or
compromise and acceptance. It turned out to be something of an anticlimax because the delegates were
much preoccupied over the arrangements for the Winter Olympics to be held at Lake Placid, New York, in
1932. The Alpine disciplines were discussed in a loaded committee with Lieutenant Helset as the lone naysayer.
On the floor of the full meeting, according one observer, Östgaard had “seen the handwriting on the
wall, and thought he might aw well give in graciously as be outvoted.” The “Peace of Oslo” was signed at
last, and Lunn raised his little Union Jack. But, Östgaard assured his Norwegian audience in Aftenposten, it
was not to be concluded that the Norwegian Ski Federation had any intention of introducing downhill and
slalom races, nor that the country would be represented in those disciplines in foreign meets.”
Allen, Culture and Sport of Skiing, 194.
1936: “The Jackson Ski and Outing Club (J.S.O.C.) was formed to organize and coordinate winter and
outdoor activities in Jackson. The JSOC was responsible for: teaching people to ski…running dogsled races
and cross country ski races, running jumping competitions at a hill behind Thor Lodge, now the Drifter’s
Thomas Perkins, “Jackson Ski Touring Foundation: An Historical Perspective”, July 1988, New England Ski Museum Collection; 1988L.042.001.
1936: First cross-country race held in Jackson, NH?
“26th Jackson X-C”, Skier X, 6 (March 1962), 26.
Late 1930s: “And, in the late 30s, Jackson was one of a very few ski resorts in this country to sponsor
an annual cross-country race, attracting some of the best langlaufers around. It would have made for better
communication if a few more of us had been able to speak Finnish.
The Jackson course was a tough one. It started in the Village, heading up the Wildcat Valley on the Eagle
Mountain side, to cross the river well beyond Gill Bridge to come into the West Pastures on Black
Mountain, crossing over the ridge to the East Pastures to eventually pass over Tin Mountain for a long
downhill return to the village. It seems that that was overlong and over-difficult, and little by little the
course was drawn in, shorter and closer to town.
Briefly, too, Jackson had a jumping event, held in connection with winter carnivals staged by the Jackson
Ski & Outing Club. The jump was a slightly modified natural slope behind Thor Lodge (now the Drifters).
…Birger Ruud, still recognized as one of history’s best four-event skiers, visited Jackson (was it 1938?)
and stayed with the Holmers, who owned the lodge at that time. John Holmer was a professional jumper,
and he and his wife also operated the Thor Restaurant in Boston, across from Oscar Hambro’s where many
of us bought our first modern skis.
Birger was inveigled into trying John’s little hill. He took off neatly, sailed well out beyond the outrun to
land on the flat and establish a hill record. Unfortunately no records have survived and neither has the hill”.
Dick May, “Tales From the Ski Sage”, The Mountain Ear (January 3, 1986), 6; New England Ski Museum Collection 1986L.020.001.
1938: “It is illuminating to review the answers from divisional officers in response to the following
“Indicate opposite each of the following forms of skiing (Ski jumping, Slalom, Downhill,
Recreational, Cross-Country) the relative importance attached to them as measured by the
attention given them in local club meets, sectional or divisional tournaments in your area,
the training provided for young skiers who wish to progress in cross-country racing, or
the provision of skiing facilities such as slopes and trails.”
The significant resulting fact is that cross-country skiing is uniformly placed last, and the interpretation
coming with the reports indicates a low last.
…Officers of most local clubs are not interested enough to organize training for cross-country running, do
not dignify this branch of the sport by emphasizing its importance, or providing trophies or prizes or
expense money for runners, and have yielded to the conviction that it is not worthwhile to bother about it
since it does not make a popular appeal, as does jumping or downhill racing.
...officers and governing committees of the divisional associations also neglect promotion of cross-country
skiing, giving indifferent encouragement to this branch of the sport.
…A few colleges have provided coaching for competition. In like manner some of the more progressive
preparatory schools, and specially in the last few years some high schools have provided experienced
instructors who have been able to organize and coach balanced teams.”
Harry Wade Hicks, “Cross-Country Skiing,” American Ski Annual (1938-39), 110-122.
1944: “On a hot fall day in 1944, up on Mt. Mansfield, a Norwegian and an Austrian challenged each
other to a unique race.
The Austrian was Sepp Ruschp, then, as now, the operator of the Mt. Mansfield Ski Area. The Norwegian
was Erling Strom, operator of one of the first ski schools in America and a noted ski mountaineer.
Ruschp, Strom and a group of other men, all considered too old for combat duty in the waning days of
World War II, were mowing the brambles and brush on the Nosedive, one of Mansfield’s tougher ski trails.
They were preparing it for another season, and Ruschp wanted to finish the job that afternoon. They had
already cut the highest part of the slope, where the brush was lowest. Sepp Ruschp was about 36, Erling
Strom was in his 40s.
…The course they decided upon, one Strom had apparently already considered as a good race route, was
designed to combine both alpine and cross-country racing: the mountain’s four-mile toll road, which winds
from near the summit to the foot of the slope, and the valley’s hills and dales; total distance—about 11
They named it the Stowe Derby, after the Parsenn Derby in Davos Switzerland, one of the old and famous
long downhill races.”
John Lazenby, “Stowe Derby: Cross-Country with a Downhill Slant”, Nordic World Magazine, 4, 5 (January 1976), 24-25.
1948: “Last month’s convention of the Eastern Amateur Ski Association proved, among other things,
that ski touring is on its way back. I think there are two factors behind the revival of interest: nostalgia for
old times, and the desire of the modern skier to break away from the monotony of a downhill-only diet.
There’s much to be said for this venerable phase of the sport. It flourished in the Laurentians on terrain not
dissimilar to ours. Here in Franconia it was popular long before a downhill track was thought of. How can
it be brought back?
The unplowed highways which sleighs once kept well packed are salted and sanded now; so the first move
in the rejuvenation must be the construction and marking of new touring trails.
Sel Hannah, “Monotonous Downhill Diet May Revive Art of Touring”, Ski News 10, 4 (December 15, 1948), 2.
1952: “We have talked ourselves into wanting more luxuries with our skiing every year, and now we
squawk because skiing has become too expensive for us. In order to progress in the direction of more
economical ski vacations we need to turn back the clock twenty years; or we can look at our Scandinavian
cousins today and see the same thing.
…But there are vast possibilities for more well-planned touring trails situated to take full advantage of lifts.
…I was commissioned by Roland Palmedo to lay out and cut a trail from the top of the Mad River lift south
to the top of Mt. Ellen (four miles), and from there to the covered bridge near Ulla Lodge, 3,000 vertical
feet and five miles below. I did the laying out and got a group from the Putney Work Camp to do the
cutting. The route from Stark’s Nest, beside the lift, to Mt. Ellen follows the Long Trail most of the way.”
John S. Holden, “Try Touring, It Costs Less”, American Ski Annual and Skiing Journal 36, 1 (1952), 95-96.
1953: “…before cross-country becomes as popular as it deserves, there will have to be better trails. Trail
and hut committees have worked hard and well, but it is possible they have overplayed the scenic aspects of
cross-country and touring, with the result that many trails are pretty inaccessible. Cross-country should be
as easily available as the commercial downhill areas. Finally, and most important, we need better equipment”.
David Judson, “Consider the Step-Child”, American Ski Annual and Skiing Journal, 37, 1 (1953), 92.
1953: “In looking back over last winter’s cross-country and combined results one cannot but help seeing
several promising things. One is the number of competitors in races; this figure has greatly increased to a
point where it is quite common to find fields of from seventy-five to one hundred competitors in our major
races. Out of this group will come more and better competitors for the larger meets than when most races
saw only a handful of competitors.”
C.A. Merrill, “Increase in Cross Country Skiing”, Eastern Ski Bulletin, 11, 1 (November 1, 1953), 8.
1954-58: Joe Pete Wilson was at St. Lawrence; Otto Schniebs was the ski team coach. In his senior
year, Otto resigned to go to Whiteface. “Otto’s knowledge of cross-country fascinating. He picked me out
and got a scholarship.”
“Otto had a very gentle touch and a quiet manner, but was definitely in charge. Out of respect for Otto, if
people didn’t agree with him they didn’t say anything. He was definite in his manner. He had a wonderful
sense of humor. At the start of a big downhill race, he slapped me on the back and almost knocked me
down: “You good strong boy, you stand up and go.””
Joe Pete Wilson, Telephone interview with Jeff Leich, May 5, 2009.
December 5, 1961: “The sad fact is that it looks more and more as if our national sport is not
playing at all—but watching. We have become more and more, not a nation of athletes, but a nation of
The result of the shift from participation to –if I may use the word—spectation, is all too visible in the
physical condition of our population despite our much publicized emphasis on school athletics. Our own
children lag behind European children in physical fitness.
I believe that as a nation we should give our full support for example, to our Olympic development
program. …we should, as a country, set a goal…emphasize this most important part of life—the
opportunity to exercise, to participate in physical activity, and generally to produce a standard of excellence
for our country which will enable our athletes to win the Olympics. But more important than that, which
will give us a nation of vigorous men and women.
There are more important goals than winning contests, and that is to improve on a broad level the health
and vitality of our people.”
John F. Kennedy, quoted in ““Spectation” in Sports Decried by President Kennedy”, Skier, X, 5 (February 1962), 15.
1962: “In 1962 I and some of my friends, like Roland Palmedo, who was one of the founders of the Ski
Patrol, George Froelich and others got together to talk about forming an organization to promote ski
touring. We said, “Let’s do it now.” …The idea was to promote purely recreational, non-competitive skiing
for anybody, any age group. Cross country was also doing that but to a large degree it is connected with
racing and excellent performances.”
Prokop, Dave, “Ski Touring’s Champion Rudi Mattesich”, Nordic World Magazine 4, 2 (October 1975), 37.
1962: “The Ski touring Council was organized in 1962 for the purpose of reviving the sport of ski
touring, to put skiing back where it was before lifts.
…Rudi didn’t attempt to go it alone. The Ski Touring Council cooperated closely with such groups as the
Eastern Ski Assoc., the Metropolitan New York Ski Council and the Nordic Ski Touring Patrol. The
organization worked with communities, schools and clubs to advise on the organization of ski tours, the
laying out of trails and the conducting of workshops.
Members pushed ski touring on golf courses to provide skiing near home, an idea that proved especially
worthwhile during the gas shortage of the 1973/74 ski season.
Under the Council’s sponsorship, a group of foreign correspondents made a tour in the East to study ski
touring, which they found superior to anything in Europe. The Council was represented at ski shows. It
provided speakers and began maintaining a photo service. News releases were issued on a regular basis.
Bill Rice, “The Man: and the Ski Touring Council’, X-Country Skier, 2, 1 (Fall 1978/79), 11.
1962: “Packing should be done a week before the race with snowshoes, or better yet, dragging it by
snowcat. The latter can easily be done if the trail has been well cleared during the summer. To ensure fast
skiing conditions the ski track itself should be set immediately after packing by a group of six or more
skiers on cross country skis. They set in straight even tracks allowing five to eight inches between skis on
the flats, slightly more on downhills, and slightly less on hill climbs.”
Richard Eliot, “Cross Country Trail: A Guide For Race-Sanctioning Ski Clubs”, Skier, X1, 2 (November 1962), 27.
1963: “”More people are discovering what a really delightful thing touring can be.”
So says lift owner and publisher James Laughlin. An enthusiast who is out skiing over logging trails near
his Connecticut home nearly every day in the winter, Laughlin believes most Americans have
misconceptions about cross-country skiing.
“They think in terms of heavy boots and skis they wear for downhill skiing. …Few of them are aware of
the free body action that comes with moving speedily across the snow with a pair of light-weight, Swedish
touring skis, light boots, and a binding that leaves your heel free to move up and down.”
John Wictorin, who handles most of the imported cross-country skis sold in this country, in the past has
sold up to 150 pairs a year. Last season, he sold close to 400 pairs. Wictorin is convinced there’s a rising
tide of interest in the sport.”
John Fry, “Ski-Touring Pleasure Rediscovered”, Ski, 27, 3 (December 1962), 65-66.
1963: “The piste teems with downhill skiers, while in the neighboring woods and fields scarcely a ski
track marks the shimmering snow…Few skiers strike out across country, and fewer still ever find the joy
and satisfaction of touring.”
Emily Williams, “The Truth About Touring,” Skier X11, 2 (November 1963), 23.
1963: “Then in 1963, I guess, we organized our first tour, in Mad River (VT), and we simply invited
friends, newspapermen. There we learned that ski touring really appeals to a different kind of person—one
who’s not a downhiller, who’s interested in the outdoors.”
Prokop, “Ski Touring’s Champion”, 37.
February 1965: “There is no lack of cross-country trails in the East, and no degree of skill
unconsidered….The Ski Touring Council, founded in 1962, has been and still is hard at work urging ski
resorts to develop touring trails.”
“The Lure of Touring,” Skiing 17, 5 (February 1965), 32.
February 1965: “Currently the eastern United States is in a relative ferment of touring activity. The Ski
Touring Council…has scheduled five “ski walks” over the winter in New York and Vermont. …The
Council’s bulletin lists well over 30 trails that can be toured in the East.
The Midwest has also seen its touring enthusiasm expand considerably in the past couple of years.”
Michael Brady, “La Dolce Velocita”, Ski 29, 5 (February 1965), 40.
December 1965: “The first annual Ski Touring Council Workshop, held at Stratton Mountain,
Vermont…drew over sixty devotees of touring, some of them rank beginners.”
Jerry Hart, “The White, White World of Touring,” Skier XV, 2 (November 1966), 26.
December 1965: “Lately, however, ski touring has been regaining popularity. A major factor in this
resurgence has been Rudolph Mattesich’s Ski Touring Council, founded in 1962…
…Increasing interest in ski touring has also caused the Unites States Ski Association to set up a Ski
Touring Program with John S. Day of Oregon as the director. This program seeks to guide the development
of ski touring in the United States using modern techniques and ideas Mr. Day has been studying in
Norway. In the background to all this planning is the hope that this will eventually improve the United
States’ standings in future international nordic skiing competitions.
The USEASA has set up a Ski Touring Committee and named George Froelich of Long Island City to
…For the person who wants to tour once in awhile and has an extra pair of old wooden downhills, the
following procedure can turn them into touring skis. First, unscrew and remove the metal edges. Second,
plane off the sides of the skis until the bottom of the ski is again flat except for the middle groove. In other
words, make them narrower by the width of the metal edges. Third, sand the bottoms of the skis down to
Larry Goss, “Ski Touring: A Resurgence”, Skier XIV, 3 (December 1965), 28-30.
Winter of 1966: “”No, no, it can’t be done,” Mattesich assured me. “Touring trails have to be
prepared. Some parts of the Long Trail have been cleared and marked, around Stratton and Mad River, in
particular, but the rest would be very tough going.”
“It’s quite a job fixing up a trail so that skiers can use it. Roland Palmedo (of Mad River Glen) and Frank
Snyder (of Stratton) have been doing this on their sections of the Long Trail, but it’s a slow process, and
only a few miles of the trail are ready.””
Al Greenberg, “Hey, Al, why don’t you do us a story on ski touring?” Skiing 19, 3 (December 1966), 84.
1966-67: “I would say that the turning point (for ski touring) came in 1966-67—then it became
popular (in the US).”
Prokop, “Ski Touring’s Champion”, 37.
January 1967: “The Jackson Cross Country Race, rechristened the Freeman Frost Memorial Race, was
won last Sunday by John Morton of Middlebury College with a time of 42 minutes, 55 seconds. This was
the first running of the race since 1963.
…Ned Gillette of the Dartmouth Outing Club finished second…
Sixty-three racers including the juniors entered the event. This was considerably less than expectations, but
considering the face that a similar race was held in Franconia the day before, they were perhaps lucky to
have as many competitors as they did.
Everyone agreed that the Jackson Ski and Outing Club organized a well-run race. …With Joe Dodge and
Wendall Lees at the finish line, the timing was unimpeachable”.
“Middlebury Racer Wins Jackson CC”, Mt. Washington Valley Signal 5, 3 (January 14, 1967), 3.
1968: “(Steve) Barnett was driving near Marble, Colorado, on a spring day in 1968 when two guys
pulled up next to him and stopped. Pulling backpacks out of their car, they each snapped on a pair of crosscountry
skis, then headed out over the horizon line of Schofield Pass. Barnett was dumbstruck. He had
never even seen cross-country skis before, let alone thought that people could just ski off into the winter
wilderness with a chairlift humming nearby. Within a year, Barnett had bought a pair of the flimsy skinny
skis, and with no idea of how to ski them, he began a quest to discover what seemed impossible at the time:
how to get down a mountain on lightweight cross-country skis without sustaining permanent bodily harm.”
David Goodman, “Ten Years After”, Powder 17, 5 (January 1989) 77-78.
1968: “In 1968, cross-country skiing (known as ski touring) was seeing signs of revival in the winter
sports arena. Jackson saw its first purely cross-country ski lessons given that winter through the Jack Frost
Shop, owned by Peggy Frost. Peggy tried to import an instructor from Scandinavia but ran into
immigration problems. She also contacted Johan Von Trapp in Stowe, Vermont to inquire about
Perkins, “Jackson Ski Touring Foundation”, 4.
1968-69: “I arrived just before Christmas in 1968. All I had were my clothes and my equipment.
The only equipment we had at the lodge were the skis I had shipped over from Norway—perhaps 50 pairs.
I think we had 20 or 30 pairs for rental, and the rest for sale. As it turned out, we sold everything that first
year and had to order more.
…In the beginning, we used logging and horse trails. We set them up just the way we did in Norway,
measuring distance to certain points. …We had no grooming equipment at all, and had to walk over the
We invited the Austrian ski instructors from up on the mountain to come when they were finished teaching.
They got their skis for free, and they could just come and ski. They brought people with them. We had a
nice bar at the lodge, so we had a good time afterward at the lodge.
That first winter, we were open seven days a week, We started in the garage across the road from the
current ski shop. We sold only ski equipment and a few mittens.”
Per Sørlie, quoted in “Trapp Family Album”, Cross Country Skier, (December 1993), 53-55.
1968-69: “I grew up when in the 40s skiing when you just had skis and you had a cable binding
that you could tie your heel down or you could set the binding a little different and your heel would come
up fairly freely. And we used to ski around the lodge a lot. And the same skis you would use to ski down
the mountain but my college roommate was Norwegian and he introduced me to ski touring as the
Norwegians do it. I had raced a little cross country not spectacularly successfully. I was a smoker in those
days and after about 10 kilometers my wind got a little short. My college roommate would come up with
me for the weekend and we would go up to the mountain and you could buy single rides on the chair lift in
those days and we would two or three runs on the mountain and then it would get really crowded with hour
long waits and so we would come back here and put our cross country skis on and ski all over the place on
cross country skis. In the mid 60s I was looking for something to improve our occupancy in the hotel and I
thought I enjoy doing this maybe there is a little niche market there. So I bought a dozen pairs of skis and
two dozen pairs of boots and put them in the corner of the garage and put a little sign up and nothing
happened so I figured that this program needed somebody to drive to make it happened and called up my
erstwhile college roommate and asked him to put an ad in the appear in Oslo for a ski instructor. He got
two or three hundred responses and he was kind enough to winnow them down to three for me and the first
one I interviewed was such a nice guy and impressed me so much that I didn’t even interview the other two
I made him an offer right there and he accepted it. And Per Sorli (sic) came over from Norway that fall and
he stayed for four years, he always went back in the summer but he stayed here for four years and did a
fabulous job. He was not a racer although he was a very strong skier. He had been an underwater frogman
in the Norwegian army and he was a great athlete. But he had great charm and he really knew how to make
people feel at ease. He came at the sport from the standpoint of having a goodtime. It was just the perfect
guy for the position.”
Johannes von Trapp, Transcript of Oral History Interview with Meredith Scott, Vermont Ski Museum, September 5, 2008.
1970 (Fall) "Bradford Boynton, the proprietor of the Wildcat Tavern, received permission from
various local landowners to hack out and mark several old trails leading from his back door around this
loop...In December he went to a touring workshop at the AMC and accepted...the task of running a touring
outing from Jackson Village." John Nutter and Colin Davidson assisted.”
Bradford Boynton and Sherman, Lawrence, "The Jackson Ski Touring Foundation", Appalachia, XXXIX, 13 (December 1973), p. 132.
1970: “1970 was a pivotal year. This particular season, several small but important events took place.
The Jack Frost Shop rented their first cross-country skis and gave ski touring lessons both in the village and
at Black Mountain. Avery Caldwell came to Jackson and worked as an instructor for the Frost Shop. Brad
Boynton, owner of the Wildcat Tavern had a trail system behind his inn. Inn addition, Dick Whipple at the
Dana Place Inn had a small trail system maintained by his maintenance man at the inn.”
Perkins, “Jackson Ski Touring Foundation”, 5.
Late 60s and early 70s: “The Putney hills in the late Sixties and early Seventies saw the height of elite
cross-country ski racing the Caldwell-Putney way. Bob Gray lived and trained here. So did Martha
Rockwell. Between them over 20 national titles were accrued. Perennial US champ Mike Gallagher visited
frequently from Killington. Training camps corralled Olympians Mike Elliot, Ev Dunklee, and Joe
McNulty. Caldwell could keep tabs on the US team with a quick glance out his office window.
Those scrawny kids tagging along for the workout? Bill Koch and Tim Caldwell (John’s son), the best
juniors anyone in the country had ever seen. Behind them? Jim Galanes and Stan Dunklee from
Brattleboro. Here was a coterie of excellence unmatched on this continent. America’s elite was nurtured in
Putney and as Caldwell’s book began to sell in impressive numbers (The Boston Globe dubbed it the “Bible
of the Sport”), and as magazine articles spread, their rearing and their exploits became The Word.”
Eric Evans, “Tracking John Caldwell”, Sportscape (November 1983), 20-21; New England Ski Museum Collection 1992L.043.002
1971: “Standing on the groomed slopes of the area (Crested Butte), looking out at the backcountry, we
longed to ski those untouched runs far from the crowded lifts. I felt this desire could be fulfilled through
cross-country skiing, and in 1971 I began to seriously explore the backcountry potential of nordic
We soon found that conventional downhill techniques were generally unsuited to the racing skis we first
used, or the conditions we encountered. The snowplow didn’t work very well for us in deep powder, and
the parallel turn seemed too unstable on free-heeled binding and flexible boots.
We eventually worked out the basics of the telemark, guided by an old picture I had seen of Stein Eriksen’s
father demonstrating the turn, and went from there on our own.”
Rick Borkovec, quoted in Brad English, Total Telemarking. Crested Butte: Eagle River Publishing Company, 1984, 32.
1971-72: Confirmation by Jack Marcial that he, Rick Borkovec, Craig Hall and others were using
Nordic skis to access the Crested Butte backcountry, and used the telemark turn in deep snow. “Rick,
myself and Craig Hall got certified as cross-country instructors. We just wanted to go hike and make turns;
we had no intent to reinvent the telemark. It was a natural evolution that we refined through trial and error.”
Marcial used Asnes cross-country skis with lignostone edges and low Alfa boots. In time he progressed to
Fisher Europa 77 skis. He was not an alpine skier at the time, though Borkovec and Hall were.
They progressed to riding lifts at Crested Butte, which helped their technique. He wound up working on the
ski patrol, using Nordic skis by about 1978, and continued on patrol until 1987.
“Rick Borkovec was the Sir Lancelot of the Round Table regarding telemark skiing.”
They used ski-joring with dogs to pull them in to Gothics and other locations to access the mountains they
Jack Marcial, Telephone interview with Jeff Leich, May 12, 2009.
Early 1970s: “To gain an accurate perspective on the telemark revolution, take a look at Crested Butte
during the early 1970s. Crested Butte…is a small counterculture of sport. When kayaking became popular
in Colorado some years ago, Crested Butte went canoeing. When road cycling hit the highways, Crested
Butte hit the backcountry on mountain bikes….Crested Butte was modifying the traditionally lowperformance
tools of cross-country skiing technique and skiing 14,000-foot peaks on touring gear. Little
did this group of skiing revolutionaries realize that their counterculture skiing technique ten years ago
would lead to a popular rediscovery of telemarking. The change in lifestyles of the original pioneers of
“three-pin downhilling” reflects the broader appeal that telemark skiing appears to be enjoying. Rick
Borkovec, Doug Buzzell, Greg Dalby, and Jack Marcial, four of the original purveyors of a skiing lifestyle
once thought to be as out-dated as it was practical and fun…They and others around the country created the
Art Burrows, “The Telemark Comes Full Circle”, Ski X-C, Winter 1983, 98-99.
1971: “Cross-country ski touring—until two years ago a Nordic pastime indulged by the purist and costconscious—has exploded in the U.S., as measured by the Department of Commerce figures for ski imports
The bulk of cross-country skis sold in the U.S. come from Norway, Sweden and Finland. Combined
imports from these countries totaled 156,511 pairs in 1971. The same imports in 1969 were around 30,000
pairs, marking a fivefold increase in the space of only two years.
As a result of the cross-country boom, Norway has become the third largest volume exporter of skis to the
U.S., behind Japan and Austria. Imports from Norway skyrocketed to 110,673 pairs in 1971, compared
with 28,054 pairs the year before.”
“Cross-Country boosts U.S. ski import volume”, Ski Business 12, 6 (Between Show Issue 1972), 1.
1972: “The 1972 Olympics in Sapporo was Caldwell’s last head-coaching foray with the cross-country
ski team. Mike Elliot, with a ninth in the pre-Olympic 30 km the year before, was in top form prior to the
Games. Mike Gallagher and Bob Gray, in their early 30s, were at the acme of their careers. The eagles of
America’s male cross-country skiers were in full flight…this would be the year to bury any tourist
label…the year to break into the top 15 or beyond in an individual event…to take another step forward…to
earn some respectability…proof positive of The Word…and for Caldwell, perhaps to erase most of those
24 minutes of Oslo ’52.
But the high hopes were dashed by a flu epidemic. Hollow shells of Gallagher, Elliot, and Gray could only
duplicate Grenoble’s peripheral results; the best Americans were four, seven, and 11 minutes out in the 15,
30, and 50 km races. Alaskan Gen Moran’s 24th in the 50 km was the top placing. It was a debacle dictated
The’72 Olympic setback launched a period of turbulent transition for John Caldwell. In 1970, Jim Balfanz
was hired by the USSA as its first full-time paid Nordic Program Director. John’s US team coaching reins
were taken up by Marty Hall in 1972. Partly from natural evolution, and partly from Balfantz’s and Hall’s
initiatives, cross-country racing in this country underwent dramatic changes during the decade.
…For the man who had been number one for so many years, who’d been in the center of a movement he
had done so much to galvanize, many of these changes were hard to accept, and for a few years, pride
lapsed into hubris, questioning into harping, as his role diminished.
Much of Caldwell’s unsettled transition was manifested in a long-running snit with Marty Hall. It was the
Al Davis-Pete Rozelle tussle of the ski world. Hall: Discipline. Do it my way. Be good or be gone. Dress
code. Unified training program. Systematic weight-training. Alpine wax and stiff skis and downhill
emphasis. Go to the top or go to college. Intervals. Push back the pain barrier. Full-time coaches and
In the other corner, Caldwell: Casual appearance. “Natural strength training”. Kicker wax and soft skis and
uphills. Individualized training programs. Skiers can go to college and go to the top.
As night followed day, a Hall article or communiqué or utterance would be followed by a Caldwell rebuttal
and vice versa. JC’s Caldwell on Competitive Cross-Country was published in 1974, and careful, savvy
readers found it dotted with anti-Hallisms. But, in fact, the similarities far outweighed the differences”.
Evans, “Tracking John Caldwell”, 24.
July 17, 1972: “The Jackson Ski Touring Foundation was incorporated by local business people and the
citizens of the village as a non-profit, voluntary corporation, to maintain cross-country ski trails in and
around the town of Jackson.
Perkins, “Jackson Ski Touring Foundation”, 9.
Summer of 1972: “During the summer of 1972, a trail crew was hired (included were Jack Lufkin,
Joe McNulty).With volunteers assisting the paid crew, and support from the Appalachian Mountain Club,
75 miles of trails were cut, modified or connected. Several stories revolve around the cutting of the Wildcat
Valley Trail. Joe McNulty, a member of the 1972 Olympic and 1974 World Championship Teams, tells
about skiing down the trail in early season snow with a brush saw strapped to his back to finish the trail
Perkins, “Jackson Ski Touring Foundation”, 10.
October 1972: “The picturesque village of Jackson, New Hampshire threatens a revolution in
contemporary American ski touring. Its cross-country ski touring program’s backbone is a 75-mile system
of ski touring trails reaching from the summit of the Wildcat Mountain ski area in the north interconnecting
with the Black Mountain and Tyrol ski areas on the south as well as every inn and point of attraction in
Jackson and the surrounding White Mountain National Forest.
The largest ski touring trail permit ever issued by the White Mountain National Forest was granted to the
Jackson Ski Touring Foundation in October.
Jacquie Jones, “Jackson, NH Creates 75-mile Trail Network for Ski Touring”, Skier XXI, 2 (November 1972) 4.
1972: “With one season of touring already under its belt, Garcia will be breaking full force onto the
Nordic scene with Norwegian bindings, Fisher cross-country skis…
…In skis, there will be three models. The Fisher Europa (about $35 retail) is a metal sandwich with an airchannel
poplar core that uses an ABS topskin, abrasion-resistant plastic base and metal sheets above and
below the core.
The Europa 77 is a Fiberglass laminate design with a laminated poplar core, plastic base, two sheets of
glass and aluminum running edges. The ski will retail for about $65.
A third model, called the Europa Racing, is a fiberglass laminate with an air-channel core and high-density
Richard Needham, “Prices down, promotion up at Garcia”, Ski Business 12, 5 (Show Issue 1972), 55. 24
1972-73: “USEASA, following many hours of meetings, research and discussions over the past
year, has developed a certifying procedure, pre-course and exam for cross-country and ski touring
instructors. This program, says USEASA Nordic Programs Director Thomas Kendall, is Eastern’s response
to the growing demand for qualified amateur and professional cross-country and ski touring instructors.
The examination procedure was developed by the Recreation Committee, composed of some of the top
men in the ski touring instruction and cross-country skiing field.”
“USEASA Initiates Certified X-C, Ski Touring Instruction Program”, Skier XXI, 2 (November 1972), 20
1972-73: Joe Pete Wilson and his partner John Greene started North American Nordic, with
multiple touring center locations in the northeast. “When there was snow, we were rolling.”
Wilson, Telephone interview May 5, 2009
Summer 1973: “Avery Caldwell resigned as Executive Director (of Jackson Ski Touring Foundation) in
the summer of 1973. The winter had gone sour with the lack of snow and with not enough skiers paying the
$0.50 trail support donation. …Jack Lufkin, an employee from the winter and a member of the 1968
Olympic team, was hired to replace Avery as Executive Director. Jack worked as both the Foundation’s
Executive Director and as manager of the Jack Frost Nordic Shop. He resigned in the spring of 1976.
Perkins, “Jackson Ski Touring Foundation”, 12-13.
November 1973: “At least one out of every four purchasers of skis now buys touring equipment. That
statement is based on a recent statistical survey, which indicates that cross-country skiing—or touring—
will be more popular than ever this coming season.
…Places for touring are myriad. In my opinion, the Jackson, NH Ski Touring Foundation is the best of its
kind in New England—or perhaps in the country.
…The famed Trapp Family of “The Sound of Music” renown run a modest touring center, where
informality and fun are the ski-note.”
Tap Goodenough, “Ski touring continues to grow in popularity”, Skier 22, 2 (November 1973) 5.
February 1974: “Ski tourers, beware! Be on your guard when you buy equipment or when you shell out
money for lessons. There’s a ski-world full of people out there who are simply not able to give you the
proper advice. That’s the word to the wise from nordic ski expert M. Michael Brady, formerly of the United
States but, for the past 12 years, a resident of Oslo, Norway.
“The biggest single problem in marketing ski touring equipment in the United States at this time is that
many retailers just don’t know what they’re doing,” Brady says.
Brady says the Norwegian, Finnish and Swedish equipment manufacturers are guilty of pushing skis into
the US under as many as six to 12 different names—for the same ski. “In one case I saw the same ski being
sold under eight different brand names for eight different prices,” Brady said.”
“Expert warns tourers on equipment”, Skier 22, 5 (February 1974) 5.
February 1974: “Cross-country skiing in the USA was in evidence in Falun in more ways than through
the performance of American skiers. Eyeing the exploding US cross-country ski market, the Austrian giants
were there, invading what had been traditionally a Scandinavian field. Fisher and Kneissel vied with one
another to get racers on their fiberglass skis, and succeeded as 60 per cent of the racers switched to
fiberglass. When Swede Thomas Magnusson crossed the finish line Feb. 17 to win the 30-km race on
fiberglass skis, he became the first World Nordic Ski Championships gold medalist to win on anything but
M. Michael Brady, “Falun championships rock Scandinavia”, Skier 22, 7 (April 1874) 15.
1974: “When Kneissl arrived at the FIS World Nordic Championships in Falun, Sweden in 1974, they
brought with then the new cross-country ski. It was fiberglass, narrow, had a P-Tex bottom and sidecut.
The ski was a winner, but many claimed that it was only good in the particular snow conditions at Falun.
This has not proven to be the case.”
“Wood Skis Are Dead Says Marty Hall,” Nordic World Magazine Volume Three, Number Three (May 1975), 19.
1974: “I had just been fired from the Killington Ski Patrol. I got a job teaching Nordic skiing at
Mountain Meadows, one of Joe Pete Wilson’s chain of touring centers. Mike Gallagher and John Tidd were
there also. I was an alpine skier and missed the downhill. I saw a picture (of the telemark turn) in a book
and took my Nordic skis to Killington. I didn’t know about telemarking in the west. We were both rediscovering it”.
Dickie Hall, Telephone interview with Jeff Leich, May 1, 2009
Early to mid 1970s: “In Europe we called it (skating technique) the Siitonen step,” Kratz (Swedish
coach Kjell Kratz) remembers, “after the Finn Paul Sittonen who used it in marathons in the early to mid-
1970s, but it was Ola ( Hassis) who showed Koch how you could win by skating over long distances.””
Stuart Stevens, “Skating the Worldloppet,” Cross Country Skier IV, 2 (November 1984), 35.
Winter 1975: “To guard against mishaps which might occur as a result of fatigue, exposure, or injury,
and to educate the ski touring public about these dangers, the National Ski Patrol System (NSPS) this past
winter certified the first Nordic Ski Patrol program at the Northfield Mountain Ski Touring Center in
Teyck Weed, “Touring growth spurs changes”, Skier 24, 1 (July 1975), 11.
November 1975: “Is Madison Avenue taking over ski touring? A number of touring teachers and operators
think so, judging from discussion at the annual meeting of ski touring instructors (the Eastern Professional
Ski Touring Instructors Association (EPSTI) held Nov. 1-2 at the Mountain Top Inn, Chittenden, VT.
Many of the instructors attending expressed grave concern over what they see as growing
commercialism—and expenses—associated with ski touring activities.
Long time cross-country instructor, coach and author of cross-country skiing books and articles, John
Caldwell, Putney, VT, contributed to the concern when he led off a discussion of trends in cross-country
and touring equipment by predicting that eventually manufacturers of touring skis will stop making the
inexpensive wood skis and will only make the faster, more expensive, fiberglass models.
Caldwell said that nearly all cross-country racers now use the fiberglass skis. He predicted every
competitor in the 1976 Winter Olympic Games will be on fiberglass skis.
…When discussion of the Graduated Width Method (GWM) of teaching ski touring was brought up, it only
enhanced their fears that touring is becoming too much like alpine skiing.”
Kay Scanlon, “The ruination of ski touring?’ Skier 24, 4 (December 1975) 16.
1975: After extended exposure to the international cross-country racing circuit this season and
discussions with the leading nordic ski manufacturers in Europe and the US, Hall has concluded that the
revolution by fiberglass and foam has been won in cross-country skiing.”
“Wood Skis Are Dead”, 18.
1975-76: Steve Barnett knew telemark skiing existed, having read an article by Rick Borkovec
published in 1974 or 1975. Barnett disliked the Marker Rotomat TR bindings he was using, and went to
REI and bought a pair of used cross-country boots and bindings. He remounted his Fisher Europa 77s with
the lighter gear and went on a road trip to Sun Valley, Alta, Telluride and other mountains. “I crashed and
burned 1000 times, and figured this out, figured that out, and realized I could turn in breakable crust and
mush, and there weren’t many people who could ski that well on downhill skis. The telemark was powerful
in difficult conditions, and suddenly I could look at taking long trips into the wilderness.”
“I was excited after that trip. I met one guy at Grand Targhee who was telemarking, Greg Amalong. I don’t
know what happened to him. He gave me this pointer: “Why don’t you buy some new boots?”’ The new
“I immediately cut out downhill and became evangelical about the telemark. 1977 was a drought year in the
west, and it had a beneficial effect on telemarking because there was snow in the high country, and people
could access it. That was the year I was writing the book.”
“The need was there; there were lots of people ready to take off (with telemarking). The frequent reaction I
got when showing the technique was “I must learn that turn now”.”
Steve Barnett, telephone interview with Jeff Leich, May 19.2009.
1976: “It was an absolute dream come true, especially for me, since I’d been dreaming about it since I
was a small boy...It happened earlier than I thought it would…As I was dreaming about being in the
Olympics I only dreamed about winning the medal. I never considered all the other aspects of winning a
medal, I never considered what it was like to be The Man, having lots of people calling and lots of pulling
in different directions that come with being a well-known person. That caught me completely by surprise.
I think the sport was destined to go through a growth spurt right then, in the mid-70s, and certainly the
medal didn’t hurt things, it spurred things on even more…everything converged, and I was kind of in the
middle of it, and as I look back on it now it was a really special time to have been there doing it, because
the sport transformed during my career, and I got to be there to see it all, right from the front row. I got to
see the skating start, I got to see the groomed tracks, the fiberglass skis, and all the stuff that happened in
those ten years”.
Bill Koch, videotape of interview with Meredith Scott of Vermont Ski Museum, no date.
1976: “An esoteric and certainly limited activity until Rudi Mattesich and his Metropolitan Touring
Council cohorts began plugging the joys of self-propelled skiing 10 years ago, cross country skiing did not
turn “commercial” until about five years ago. Now, it is estimated that there are half a million langlaufers
in the US, while the highest estimate placed on the number of downhill skiers is five million----and this
after 40 years of lift-building and promoting.
Trapp Family Lodge in Stowe, the first and still premier touring center in the East, reports up to 1,000
skiers a day. Johannes von Trapp feels that he must soon institute a daily limit, with season membership
holders receiving first priority.
There are now a couple of hundred touring centers in the country, about evenly divided between specialty
operations and those run by Alpine areas.”
John Hitchcock, “A Report on X-Country Skiing”, Ski Area Management 15, 4 (Fall 1976), 30.
1976: “It was a cold day in the winter of 1976. Dick Hall had put in his last lesson for the week as an
alpine ski instructor at Killington in Vermont, and he was out experimenting with a new toy—skinny crosscountry
skis. He set up a challenge for himself: He would take these flimsy things up Killington’s novice
slopes, and try to get down any way he could. …”I would get demolished””.
Over in the Adirondacks, Todd Eastman, a familiar face at the local rock-climbing crags, was getting bored
with the touring-center scene around Lake Placid. “A friend asked me to do a ski tour, and I said ‘sure,’ he
recounts. The tour led them up and down Algonquin, a dramatic 5,100-foot peak in the Adirondacks. “I
never skied so hard in my life. We skied down some crazy slides. I had never done anything like that”.
…He recalls that “there would be hardly anyone else out there when we’d ski”. That was probably wise,
since the bombers of the Adirondack High Peaks, soon to name themselves the “Ski-to-Die Club,’ were not
exactly studies in control. They were rediscovering techniques in the time-tested way, by doing whatever
“I don’t think anyone’s downhill technique was great,” says Eastman, “but it was just so much fun to be out
there. We used old touring boots and wooden skis. Everyone just parallel skied. Crashes were continual.
You didn’t think you were skiing super well, but you would see others having a hard time and you’d realize
you had picked up some tricks””.
David Goodman, “Northeastern Renaissance”, Cross Country Skier, VII, 5, (Spring 1988), 56-57.
November 1976: “…cross country skiing leads logically into twisting and turning downhill. I found this to
be very true when teaching skiing with the 10th Mountain Division—the Ski Troops—during World War II.
We trained at Camp Hale, high in the Rockies, and beginners, even advanced skiers, turned up on the
lengthy wooden skis, shuffling around on the level, then trying some simple turns before essaying steep
sides of mountains.
…”I never did much cross country skiing until I served in the Ski Troops,” said Toni Matt, famed for his
schuss of the Tuckerman Ravine Headwall. “It helped me to gain more rhythm and coordination. In later
years, all of my family enjoyed touring, too.””
Tap Goodenough, “Go Both Ways: The Cross-Cultural Skier”, Skier 25, 3 (November 1976) 15.
1977: “It was 1977 during a race in Umea, Sweden when Ola (Hassis) skated past Koch and soon after
that, Billy the K started skating to victory in international events. “We were caught sleeping in bed,” Kratz
says with a smile.”
Stevens, “Skating the Worldloppet, 35.
1977: “remember when ski touring used to be ultra-economical and the essence of simplicity? It didn’t
cost much to get outfitted, and you could ski out of your own backyard.
In New England, that memory is beginning to seem alarmingly distant. The good ole days of strapping on a
pair of boards and gliding contentedly out across the fields are being threatened by a wave of technological
improvements in ski equipment, high-pressure marketing, and intimations of glamour.
…As for the touring centers, they face rising costs, higher expectations about their trail conditions, and
overcrowding of facilities. Almost all have now instituted trail fees of between $1-$2 to underwrite
maintenance costs; yet at the same time many have been forced to cut back on their trail systems because of
problems with private landowners.
…In a very real sense, US ski touring as we know it today began its explosive growth here in New England
about six years ago. So perhaps it is predictable that adverse effects of the dramatic boom in cross-country
skiing should also be felt here first.
…One of the more startling developments recently is that the cross-country skier has joined the
snowmobiler in the eyes of some as an unwelcome intruder. Few tourers think of themselves as pests or
trespassers. The sport, in fact, has built its reputation on exactly the opposite. But touring centers are
beginning to get complaints that indicate some people consider tourers a pain in the neck.
Part of the problem is sheer numbers. Private landowners who had no objection when a few skiers crossed
their lawn each week are rebelling when the number becomes a couple of hundred.
But an equal, if not more important, factor in changing attitudes is the type of skier going out on the trails.
Most tourers used to be experienced outdoor enthusiasts, who were well-acquainted with the outdoor ethic
and etiquette. The new breed of skiers aren’t.
…One thing is certain. Ski touring here in New England is long past infancy, even adolescence, and the
carefree days that once ruled the sport are gone with it. Cross-country skiing has come of age, and with
maturity has come responsibility and more than a few hard questions.”
Andrew Nemethy, “Growing Pains of New England Ski Touring”, Nordic World Magazine, 4, 7 (February 1977), 33-34.
1977: “Forty and fifty years ago excellent ski technique and equipment was available for deep snow
touring. Much of it was lost with the development of Alpine skiing, as the touring boot and binding was
replaced by the rigid equipment needed for parallel skiing.
…The promoters of cross country skiing have assumed that the recreational cross country skier will hold
the same fascination for lightweight gear and perfection of their diagonal stride as does the racer. These
promoters are ignorant of cross country skiing’s other dimension: The thrill of deep powder downhill runs
and touring in wilderness terrain away from other skiers. …Deep snow downhill technique has as its core
the telemark turn.
Edward R. Baldwin, “Deep Powder: Cross Country Skiing’s Other Dimension”, Nordic Skiing 1, 6 (March 1977), 12-13.
Late 1970s: Dickie Hall left Mountain Meadows and started Trailhead in Stockbridge VT to teach
telemark skiing. No one came.
Hall, Telephone interview, May 1, 2009
1977: “Now that our numbers have grown large and we are pressing for the use of every available open
space, it may be time to examine the use of golf courses more closely. Although dozens of organized crosscountry
programs made use of golf courses last year and many more golf courses were used informally,
skiers and golf people still speak of an “under-exploited potential”.
…We generally regard ourselves as environmental purists who wouldn’t harm a fly…And surely, we see
ourselves as being far removed from the excesses of snowmobilers. Those people who derive pleasure from
the roar of an unmuffled engine—what could we skiers have in common with them? Well, some golf
course operators think we’re all alike—turf killers.
How could a person on skis damage dead grass lying under a blanket of snow? In the first place, the grass
isn’t dead, merely dormant. Although photosynthesis does not take place, the roots continue to transpire.
The damage most superintendents worry about results from snow compaction, not gouged turf. Ice forms
just above ground under a compacted area. The ice seals off air flow and the grass can suffocate. In
addition, the affected turf is much more susceptible to snow mold, a fungus that starts to grow in the space
between the ground and the ice layer.
…Whether operated by a commercial lessee, who usually is a ski touring professional, or by the golf course
management itself, a touring center can be lucrative. ..As is the case at ski touring centers generally,
business at golf course centers is booming. At Woodstock Ski Touring Center, which uses the Woodstock
Country Club in Woodstock, VT, skier days totaled 9000 last year, up from 6000 the year before. John
Wiggin, director of the Woodstock Center, reports that business has increased every year since the center
opened seven years ago, and the center has made a profit every year.
Commercial ski touring centers have moved onto golf courses in Vail, Sun Valley, Park City, Glens Falls,
Fayetteville, New London, Copper Hill, Northstar and South Lake Tahoe, to name a few places.
…The Ski Touring Council, with Rudi Mattesich as president, fostered the expansion of golf course skiing
in New England and several other Eastern states. As Rudi says, “The idea just popped into my head three or
four years ago at a meeting with the Vermont Department of Conservation.”
Barbara Mead, “Golf Course Skiing: Keeping the Grass Green and the Gates Open”, Nordic World Magazine, 4, 5 (September 1977), 28-30.
1978-79: “Telemark racing has its roots in the high country of central Colorado, where a group of
enthusiasts organized a local tour called the Summit Telemark Series in 1978-79. Originally limited to
Summit County, it quickly spread to other major resorts in the state and so far has produced the best racers
in the country”.
Charlie Meyers, “Telemarking!”, Cross Country Ski Magazine 8, 1 (October/November 1981), 71.
1979-80: “I travelled Vermont looking for an area that would let me run a telemark ski school.
Stowe wouldn’t let me on their lifts. Killington and Sugarbush were not interested. Ken Quackenbush at
Mad River Glen told me “that’s a really cool idea”; he had a photo of himself making telemark turns in the
1930s at Middlebury. I started a touring center at the Mad River Barn and worked at Mad River Glen as the
telemark ski school director.
The ADK, AMC and DOC were doing workshops, and I was getting involved with PSIA. PSIA didn’t
seem interested in telemark, so I quit and started North America Telemark Organization (NATO).
Rossignol and Fisher supported us, and we did festivals at Mt. Tom, Sunday River, Jack Frost in PA and in
Hall, Telephone interview, May 1, 2009
1980: “…Koch spotted the value of skating while watching a Swede use it entirely to win a 30-kilometer
race down a frozen river in 1980. Thus he picked up something the Scandinavians had spot-used and made
it a viable style.”
Paul Robbins, “The Inside Edge: Controversy and Competition,” Cross Country Skier, IV, 2 (November 1984), 33.
1981: “Telemark slalom races in Sweden. Telemark slalom races in Vermont. Telemark slalom races in
California, Washington and British Columbia. Even Telemark slalom races at Telemark, Wisconsin. The
Telemarking craze is spreading rapidly from its Colorado nursery.
As long as these races were just for fun, they’ve been hard to criticize. But today, the racers are serious.
They’re competing for cash prizes, and using bizarre equipment that resembles alpine gear more each day.
They are leaving cross country skiing behind. Judges must even be stationed at gates to verify that the
competitor truly has made a Telemark turn.
What’s happening here is that we’re stressing cross country’s weakest points compared to alpine. Its prime
strengths—the freedom of motion and the versatility of the equipment—are nowhere in evidence.
Furthermore, the pure Telemark slalom is encouraging an evolution of equipment directly away from the
all-purpose, lightweight gear that was so attractive in the first place. Boots are becoming too stiff for a
comfortable stride, too heavy for touring, and perhaps dangerous as well. Skis are becoming heavier and
stiffer—good for hardpack, but not so good elsewhere. They don’t even have wax pockets—they’re not
seriously meant for any use but downhill.”
Steve Barnett, “It’s Gone Too Far”, Cross Country Ski Magazine 8, 1 (October/November 1981), 73.
1982: “It was in ’82 when I really got back where I had left off in 76, and that’s why I won the World
Cup. The World Cup in ‘82 was due in large part to the skating. For me, after the ‘80 Olympic disaster, all
the Olympic racers got invited to a race in Sweden, where the Olympic racers were racing against the
World loppet racers, and the World loppet racers were all, the top guys were all skating at that time, and so
that was the point of the race, to put skating against classic technique and see what happens, and the skaters
won. And that’s when I realized that skating was faster and I just decided I was just going to go for skating,
and so I took the next year off from the World Cup and just went with the World Loppet and learned to
skate with those guys.
So when I came back on the World Cup in ’82, I was the only one skating at first, it was just a gift, and I
won a few World Cups doing that, and all of a sudden, bang, I was leading the World Cup. Then I got
really sick and was behind again, and actually ended up winning in the very last race, so it was a pretty
intense season. I think without skating, I probably wouldn’t have won the World Cup.
A lot of people were excited with a new thing, people were jumping on the bandwagon, but on the other
hand, the real story was the people who really freaked out about it, they hated it, the Scandinavians in
particular. And it’s very understandable, it’s a Scandinavian sport, and to see it dramatically change like
that overnight is pretty unsettling, to say the least. So, that year was World Championships in Oslo,
Norway, the Holmenkollen was the World Championships, and I was booed for skating. And I understand
it, I can sympathize with it, but it was tough to be booed.
The general consensus was in the early World Cups I was getting away with skating, but I would meet my
maker in Holmenkollen, because those were tougher courses, and so when I still skated and won a medal in
the World Championship that was when everyone realized skating was for real and you had to start skating,
so by the end of the year everyone was skating.”
Bill Koch, videotape of interview with Meredith Scott of Vermont Ski Museum, no date.
1982: …Bill Koch used the marathon-skate technique to such advantage en route to winning the 1982
World Cup title…
…Scandinavians led the opposition to skating after Koch won four individual races in 1982 and became the
first American to capture the overall World Cup championship, which had previously been a Scandinavian
or Soviet prize. The anti-skate faction claimed the technique, which has been used for decades by nordic
hunters and for a couple of years by elite marathon racers, was “Untraditional”.”
Robbins, “The Inside Edge”, 32.