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ISHA Journals, 1989-1999
These are publications of the International Skiing History Association (ISHA).

Snow News, Autumn 1989

p. 2, Parkinson, Glenn, "A Tribute to Fridtjof Nansen"

Nansen was 28 when he led five men across Greenland on skis in 1889. He later wrote: "The great importance of dogs for sledge journeys was clear to me before I undertook my Greenland expedition, and the reason I did not use them was simply that I was unable to procure any serviceable animals." From 1893-96, Nansen lead an Arctic expedition aboard the Fram, a ship specially constructed so that it would be lifted instead of crushed by pack ice. The expedition proved Nansen's theory of polar currents. The Fram later took Nansen's protege, Roald Amundsen, to Antarctica for his expedition to the South Pole in 1910-12. In 1922, Dr. Nansen won the Nobel Peace Prize for his work in repatriation of prisoners after World War I and his efforts to bring relief to famine stricken Russia.

Snow News, Summer 1990

p. 3, Parkinson, Glenn, "Hjalmar Hvam, An Enduring Champion"

This short profile is based on a phone interview conducted by the author when Hvam was 87. In 1932, Hvam made a last minute decision to compete in the 1932 national ski championships at Lake Tahoe, CA. He drove with his friends from Portland, OR, arriving just in time to enter the 18 mile cross country race. He won that race and the nordic combined event the following day. In 1934, Hvam entered and won his first slalom race at Mt Hood, the first time he'd ever seen this type of competition. In 1936 he won twelve straight downhill races, including the four-way competition at Mt Baker in which he won every event, downhill, cross-country, slalom and jumping, against stiff international competition.

In June 1937, Hvam skied off a cornice near Timberline Lodge, landed in a frozen rut and broke his leg. When he woke up from the anethesia in the hospital he immediately asked the nurse for a pencil and paper. He sketched out the design for the first releasable ski binding. The Saf-Ski binding, with some refinements, was sold until the 1960s, when rising liability insurance rates forced Hvam to stop production. In all those years, he said, the only injury resulted from an improperly installed binding.

The article is accompanied by a photo of Hvam in 1944 standing next to his ski trophies. On p. 2 is an advertisement and sketch of the Saf-Ski binding. It's difficult to tell from the pictures how the binding works.

p. 7, "Equipment News"

In Ski Magazine in 1950, Miller Ski Co. introduced the Hanson ski binding. They claimed it would release at any angle. An important change was the method of putting it on; the skier merely stepped into and out of it without having to bend over. Retail $8.95.

Snow News, Autumn 1990

p. 3, Marsh, Earline V., "The Hermit of Lilienfeld"

This profile of Mathias Zdarsky seems largely based on material in Arnold Lunn's books. After reading Fridtjof Nansen's book Across Greenland, Zdarsky sent to Norway for a pair of skis. He found the long, grooved skis with primitive cane bindings unmanageable in the rugged terrain around his isolated home, so he set about redesigning them. The results were the Lilienfeld ski, Lilienfeld binding, and Lilienfeld technique, which appeared in his book Die Alpine Lilienfelder Skifahrtechnik, published in 1897.

The Lilienfeld method involved a long pole, a low crouch for balance, and the use of a snowplow to control downhill speed on steep slopes. Zdarsky first used a single pole but eventually changed to two poles, which became the standard. Zdarsky's devotion to teaching beginners and promoting his "invention" attracted a dedicated following. During World War I, Zdarsky was a ski instructor for the Austrian Army. He survived an avalanche that caused 80 fractures and dislocations, but with devices that he invented, he was able to ski again. Zdarsky was born in 1856 and died in 1940.

The article includes a photo of Zdarsky in later years, walking on skis with a single pole. It also includes a detailed diagram of the Lilienfeld binding with the various components noted. The binding is remarkably sophisticated, a steel plate with two hinges (one at the toe and one under the ball of the foot) and a return spring. The spring is hidden in a slot carved in the ski in front of the binding.

Skiing Heritage, Spring 1993

p. 8, Lund, Morten, "The Films of Hannes Schneider"

Johannes Schneider was born in 1890, son of a farmer in the hamlet of Stuben in Austria's Arlberg Pass. In 1907 he became the first full-time ski guide hired by Hotel Post in nearby St Anton. In 1919, he established an independent ski school there. He invented the era's dominant ski technique, Arlberg, the first technique in which each level developed logically from the previous level. Fifteen years after he introduced Arlberg, Schneider's ski school was the largest in Europe and he was regarded as the teaching master to the entire world. The author writes, "Schneider, more than any other, was responsible for the transformation of alpine skiing from a mountain hiking sport to a sport of speed and style."

His worldwide influence was due in significant part to the ten films he made between 1920 and 1931 with Arnold Fanck of Frieburg-im-Breislau, Germany. Fanck made his first film with a hand-cranked camera in 1913, probably the first ski film ever made. Following World War I, using Schneider as demonstrator, he filmed Das Wunder des Schneeschuhs or The Wonder of the Skis, the world's first ski technique film. It premiered in October 1920 at Freiburg. The success of this film led to an association with Germany's largest film production company, UFA. Fanck and Schnieder made nine films for UFA.

Fanck and Schneider's third film was Eine Fuchsjagd (auf Schneeschuhen) durchs Engadin, or A Fox Hunt (on Skis) through the Engadine. The English-language version was called simply The Chase. The author writes: "Schneider was the fox; to play the hounds, Fanck had collected 18 German and Norwegian hot-shots." This film captured the first parallel turns of the Arlberg system, as Schneider continued to refine his techniques. The film opened in 1922 to rave reviews.

In 1927, Fanck and Schneider produced Die Weisse Kunst or The White Art, a technical film that included the first slow-motion sequences ever taken of skiing. Stills from this film were used to illustrate the book Das Wunder des Schneeschuhe, which according to the author is the best selling ski book of all time. It sold 100,000 copies in its first year.

The two made their last film in 1931, Die Wiesse Rausch or White Ecstasy. While Fanck's previous films had been silent, this one had a sound track. The film was a comedy featuring Schneider as an instructor and Leni Riefenstahl as a rank beginner. After she learns to ski, Riefenstahl and Schneider play the foxes in a "fox chase" on skis. The English version of the film was called The Ski Chase. This was Fanck and Schneider's most successful film, and it brought Riefenstahl to the attention of Adolph Hitler.

Riefenstahl began a distinguished and controversial career as a documentary and propaganda film maker for the Nazis. Her most famous film was Olympia, a documentary of the 1936 Olympic Games. During the Anschluss, or annexation, of Austria in 1938, the Nazis imprisoned Schneider. Riefenstahl may have had something to do with it. Schneider was released thanks to the help of American banker Harvey Dow Gibson and came to the U.S. in February 1939. Arnold Fanck, a jew, was trapped in Germany, but survived the war.

The article is accompanied by still photographs from White Ecstasy. Photos show Schnieder instructing Riefenstahl and the "hounds" in pursuit of Schneider. There are also two pictures of Guzzi Lantschner, later an alpine medalist in the 1936 Olympics, jumping over a farmhouse and a high rock cliff.

Skiing Heritage, Winter 1994

p. 1, Parkinson, Glenn, "The First Ski Book in America"

Theodore A. Johnsen immigrated from England to Portland, Maine, where he worked as a cabinetmaker. An early piece on skiing in the April 20, 1895 issue of Scientific American inspired him to try skiing. In 1904, he started his own boat-building and wood products company. Among its products were snowshoes and skis. To expand his business, in 1905 he printed a 54 page ski booklet called The Winter Sport of Skeeing. The first 38 pages were instruction in the use of equipment and technique. The last 16 pages consisted of the winter sports catalog for his company (Tajco).

This was the second book about skiing ever written and published in English. The first was The Ski-Runner by English ski pioneer E.C. Richardson, published in London in 1904. Richardson had learned from master skiers in Norway and, by comparison, Johnsen was untutored. Some of the artwork and technical information in Johnsen's book was taken from Richardson's book.

Johnsen was passionate about skiing, which contributed to his failure as a ski manufacturer. He made and stocked too many expensive, high-quality skis which remained unsold. His competitor Martin Strand from Minneapolis opted instead to make only "skis that people would buy--cheap skis." Johnsen went out of business in 1907 and died in 1911 at age 54.

Skiing Heritage, Autumn 1994

p. 4, Pfeifer, Luanne, "The One And Only Gretchen"

Gretchen Kunigk was born in Tacoma, Washington, to a Norwegian immigrant mother and German immigrant father. Her mother was a skier. Gretchen first skied at Paradise on Mt Rainier during Christmas, 1932 at age 13. After skiing and racing for a few years she took lessons from Otto Lang after he started teaching at Paradise. Through Lang she got involved in several Hollywood films, doubling for Sonja Henie in the ski scenes of Thin Ice and Sun Valley Serenade.

In 1938 she and Don Fraser won the Northwest women's and men's combined ski championships, respectively. Their racing encounters led to romance and they were married in 1939. Gretchen continued to race and improve, and in 1941 she became the U.S. alpine women's combined champion. She won the U.S. women's slalom championship in 1942 before World War II shut down racing for the duration. In 1947, after not racing for four years, she qualified for the U.S. Olympic team. In the 1948 Games at St Moritz she won the silver medal in the women's alpine combined and a gold medal in the special slalom, the first Olympic alpine skiing medals won by an American. She died in 1994 in Sun Valley at age 75. Her husband Don Fraser died earlier the same year.

p. 31, "She Did Hannes Schneider In, He Said"

This is a review of Leni Riefenstahl's autobiography. The reviewer calls her "one of the least enigmatic, most straightforward super egos of the century." According to Hannes Schneider, he and Leni feuded during their work together on Arnold Fanck's White Ecstasy. "Schneider claimed he failed to entertain certain unchaste proposals by Riefenstahl," writes the reviewer. When the Austrian Nazis jailed Schneider in 1938, he blamed Riefenstahl for his misfortune. Fortunately he was rescued by international banker Harvey Dow Gibson, and offered direction of the ski school in North Conway, New Hampshire, a post he held for the rest of his life.

Skiing Heritage, Winter 1995

p. 4, Jerome, John, "The Durrance Biography"

This is an early draft of the first chapter of a biography of Dick Durrance, with a working title of "The Man on the Medal." It describes the years between 1927 and 1933 when Durrance's mother took him and his brothers and sisters to Europe, there they lived and attended school in Garmisch, Germany. It was during this period that Durrance was exposed to European alpine ski techniques and began racing in earnest. In 1932, he won the junior downhill at the German national championships, held above Garmisch. In 1933, he competed in the Arlberg-Kandahar. He describes the downhill: "In those days, there were no control gates on the course, just a start and a finish, and no course preparation. You just picked your own route down, which was a big part of how well you did. You figured out your own line. If you found a place where you thought you could make up a little time, you wouldn't practice it for fear someone would see you. We were pretty secretive about what our line would be." With the coming of the Depression, the family could no longer afford to stay in Germany, so they returned to the U.S. in the spring of 1933. The following year, Durrance entered Dartmouth College and began racing for coach Otto Schniebs. The article includes many pictures and a timeline of Durrance's life from 1914 through 1994.

p. 41, Lert, Wolfgang, "Otto Steiner: For the Record"

Steiner was born in Munich in 1902. At the university in Munich he met students from Norway who introduced him to telemark and christie turns, cross country and jumping. He was on the German Olympic cross country team at the first Winter Games in Chamonix in 1924 and the second Games at St Moritz in 1928. He immigrated to the U.S. that year at age 25. He helped critique the courses for the Lake Placid Olympics in 1932. Shortly thereafter, Steiner went west to California, where he was one of not more than a half dozen skiers in the state skilled in all the ski disciplines. In 1933, he made a solo ski traverse of the Sierra Nevada from Giant Forest in Sequoia National Park to Mt Whitney, then across the divide via Mineral King. He coached the UCLA ski teams beginning in 1936 and was one of the earliest ski instructors of the Sierra Club. He helped start the California Ski Association, later the Far West Ski Association, and was chief examiner for the first organized instructor certification exam in California. The article includes a photo of the author and Steiner in the 1930s.

Skiing Heritage, Autumn 1995

This issue commemorates the 50th anniversary of the 10th Mountain Division's first Memorial Day in honor of those who died in combat.

p. 4, "Days of Innocence"

This article describes the making of the U.S. Army training film, The Basic Principles of Skiing, in 1941. In April of that year, Lt. John Woodward of the 15th Regiment, 3rd Division, stationed at Fort Lewis, was put in charge of a five-man detachment and sent to Sun Valley to make the film. Private John Jay, a former ski-lecture film-maker was also ordered to report to Woodward. In Sun Valley, Otto Lang, who had just completed shooting the action scenes for Sun Valley Serenade, was assigned as director. Lang wanted at least ten men skiing for the camera, so he added a second "squad" made up of Sun Valley ski instructors Sepp Benedikter, Fred Iselin, John Litchfield, Sigi Engl and Pepi Teichner. The opening interior sequences were filmed in Hollywood. As one recruit, Lang cast a young unknown bit player named Alan Ladd. The finished film was sent to Fort Lewis where the 1st Battalion of the 87th Mountain Regiment was activated on November 15, 1941.

The article includes photos of Otto Lang, John Woodward, Sigi Engl, Fred Iselin and Peppi Teichner.

p. 6, "How the 10th Got Started"

At the urging of officials of the National Ski Patrol System and the National Ski Association, the Army issued a directive on December 5, 1940 to the commanders of several divisions in the north to undertake small scale ski troop training during the winter of 1941. The following year, the Army authorized an experimental oversized battalion, the 1st Battalion of the 87th Infantry Regiment (Reinforced) at Fort Lewis, WA. The Mountain Training Center (MTC) was later set up at Camp Carson, CO to expand the initial 87th Regiment to a normal three-regiment division. Camp Hale was opened in November, 1942. At Camp Hale, the MTC was absorbed into the headquarters of the division on July 15, 1943, creating the 10th Infantry Light Division (Pack, Alpine). In June 1944, the division was moved to Camp Swift in Texas, where it became the 10th Mountain Division.

In 1944, public relations officer Capt. John Jay was asked to write the military history of the beginnings of the division. His orginal frank critique stunned official readers and a sanitizing edit was hastily applied. The result published in 1946 passes for the early history of the 10th. The original manuscript (jay-1944) is, according to this article, a much truer account.

A sidebar explains how the U.S. Army was organized during World War II. The smallest specified army unit in 1941 was the 12-man squad; three squads made a 36-man platoon. Four platoons plus auxiliaries made up a 200-man company, four companies plus a headquarters made a 1,000-man battalion, three battalions with auxiliaries made up a 3,000-man regiment, and three regiments plus artillery plus support units made up 10,000-plus men in a division. A Corps consists of several divisions. An Army consists of several Corps. In Italy, the 10th Division was part of the IV Corps, 5th Army.

p. 7, "John Jay: I Am A Camera"

This article describes John Jay's background in film-making before he joined the Army in April 1941. It also describes his work in publicizing the mountain troops from 1942 through 1944, when the division was recruiting and training in Colorado. By 1944, Jay's most important job was over--the division had been filled. In May he was assigned to write a history of the Mountain Training Center. That done, he transferred to Army Air Force publicity where he stayed until 1945. After the war was over, Jay's ski film-making career resumed.

p. 8, "Mt Rainier: Gateway to a War"

This article is largely a summary of information in Charles Bradley's book Aleutian Echoes (bradley-1994). On August 5, 1941, Colonel G.S. Gerow wrote a memo to the U.S. Army General Staff in which he reported on the Balkan region early in World War II. He concluded that the Italian Army was defeated in the Balkan campaign by lack of well-equipped mountain troops. He wrote: "Such units cannot be improvised hurriedly from line divisions. They require long periods of hardening and experience for which there is no substitute." In November 1941, the General Staff authorized the 87th Mountain Infantry Regiment at Fort Lewis. They were sent to Paradise on Mt Rainier to introduce them to military skiing. This article includes photos of Mt Rainier training from Bradley's book.

p. 10, "A 10th Mountain Timeline"

This timeline was prepared with the help of 10th Mountain veterans George Earle, John Imbrie and Bob Parker and was initially adapted from the 10th Mountain Resource Center's timeline (DPL-WHG). The timeline begins with the invasions of Poland, Finland and Norway in 1939 and 1940, and continues through the training of U.S. mountain troops, combat in Italy, the end of the war, and postwar activities of the 10th.

p. 14, "The 10th's Good Times and Bad Times"

The article describes training at Camp Hale, Colorado, beginning in December 1942. It includes photos and information from Good Times and Bad Times, a book edited by John Imbrie and Hugh Evans.

p. 16, "From Skiers to Amphibians"

The article describes the invasion of Kiska in the Aleutians in August, 1943. It includes photos and information from Ski Troops in the Mud, by Bradley Benedict.

p. 18, "The 10th Mountain on Display"

In November 1942 the Mountain Training Center command moved to Camp Hale, where it faced the task of filling out two more regiments, the 85th and 86th, to complete the division. Previous experienced had shown the importance of volunteers in the mountain troops. The division needed 2,000 volunteers fast. John Jay, Public Relations Officer, wrote releases to major papers, articles for sporting and forestry magazines and set up press tours of Camp Hale.

Jay created the first recruiting film, Ski Patrol, using his training films from Mt Rainier in 1942. He also used footage shot in 1941 at the ski paratrooper camp set up at Alta, Utah, with Dick Durrance. Debbie Bankhart traveled all over the country, showing the film to 75,000 people in 1943. She distributed applications to the mountain troops after the film.

In March 1943, National Ski Patrol System president Minot Dole convinced the War Department to let NSPS provide each accepted volunteer a letter honored at all recruiting centers to send the bearer directly to Camp Hale--the first time the Army ever gave any organization outside the Army that kind of leverage.

In March 1943, Warner shot a full-length "docu-drama," Mountain Fighters, at Camp Hale with full cooperation of the Mountain Training Center. The film was release in May 1943 and caused an upsurge in enlistments. In the end, of the 12,000 men who passed through the 10th Mountain division in its various forms, at least 20 percent were recruited through the National Ski Patrol.

p. 20, "Combat Ski Patrols"

The reconnaisance ski patrols in Italy during the early months of 1945 were forgotten in the aftermath of the deadly fighting that followed. In 1991, the 10th Mountain Association's newspaper, The Blizzard, published a request asking for recollections of ski patrol experiences in Italy, which brought these patrols to light.

The article describes several patrols, including two that found routes up Riva Ridge in preparation for the assault on foot. The longest patrol was a three-day patrol led by Don Traynor of the 86th Intelligence and Reconnaissance Platoon near Bagni Di Lucca, but the most difficult and daring was a patrol up Mt Spigolino, connected to Riva Ridge but towering over it. The request for reconnaisance came directly from the 10th's commanding officer, Major General George Hays. He wanted to know if he could send a battalion up Spigolino before the attack on Riva Ridge, to sweep down on the flank of the defenders. Don Traynor picked the four most rugged skiers he could find from his platoon to go with him: Steve Knowlton, Harvey Slater, Harry Brandt and Cragg Gilbert.

Climbing thousands of feet up Spigolino they discovered that the Germans were indeed on top of the peak. They cautiously made their way back to the American lines, skiing for nearly 24 hours with little food or rest. The author (unnamed) writes: "Had the patrol not been extremely careful and thorough, they would have missed the Germans on top. If a platoon had then gone to the top to use it as a base to assault Riva, they would have been spotted and the element of surprise in the Riva attack might have evaporated. The value of ski troops had been proven once and for all."

(This explanation is contradicted somewhat by aaj-1946-war-p208.)

p. 22, "A Lift to Victory on Riva Ridge"

The article describes the construction of a portable tramway on Riva Ridge the morning after the attack to carry supplies to the front and wounded back. The tramway was designed by Robert Heron of Stearns Roger Manufacturing Co. of Denver. Following the war, Heron went on to design 78 lifts for ski resorts and was the outstanding pioneer U.S. lift designer. The article includes photos and information from The Tramway Builders, a book by Philip Lunday and Charles Hampton, members of Company D, 126th Engineers, which installed and operated the tram on Riva Ridge.

p. 24, "Riva...the re-enactment"

On February 18, 1995, seven veterans of the 10th Mountain Division joined with members of the modern 10th Mountain (Light) Division from Fort Drum and several Alpini (Italian mountain troops) and mountain guides to re-enact the climb of Riva Ridge on the 50th anniversary of the division's first combat in Italy. The re-enactment was conceived by Bob Parker.

p. 27, "Riva: The Reality"

A brief summary of the battle for Riva Ridge by five companies of the 86th Infantry Regiment. The 86th took and held the ridge, losing 17 men dead, 38 wounded, and 3 missing.

p. 30, "The 10th's Renaissance Man"

A profile of Steve Knowlton, one of five men in the Mt Spigolino ski patrol in Italy and later a member of the 1948 U.S. Olympic team.

p. 39, "The Bradley Bunch...How Skiing Kids Grow Up Good"

A short profile of the Bradley brothers of Madison, Wisconsin: Bill, Dave, Ric, Steve, Joe and Charles. Bill and Charles Bradley were 10th Mountain veterans. Dave and Steve were Dartmouth ski team members in the 1930s and Steve designed the Bradley Packer-Grader, the first dedicated snow-grooming machine, in 1952.

Skiing Heritage, Winter 1996

p. 5, Lund, Morten, "A Short History of Alpine Skiing: From Telemark to Today"

This article contains few facts that I haven't found in other sources, but the author does a remarkable job of assembling the significant milestones into a coherent story. Topics include: stone age carvings and artifacts, emergence of skiing for enjoyment in Norway around 1000 A.D., development of "modern" skiing by Sondre Norheim and others in Telemark in the mid-1800's, Nansen's crossing of Greenland in 1888, Amundsen's expedition to the South Pole in 1911, the independent rise (and later decline) of "longboard" racing in American mining towns in the mid-1800s, development of the stem by Mathias Zdarsky in the 1890s, invention of alpine racing by the British in the 1910s, establishment of the Arlberg school by Hannes Schneider following World War I, the first Winter Olympic Games and the fight for acceptance of alpine racing in the FIS, development of ski lifts in Europe, the spread of alpine skiing to the U.S. by Austrian teachers, the spread of ski lifts in America, World War II and the 10th Mountain Division, improvement of ski equipment after the war, post-war ski resort development, and finally snowmaking, grooming and high-speed lifts.

Facts I haven't found elsewhere:

p. 21, "And That's the Way the Dipsy Doodle Works"

The worlds first very quick short linked powder turns were invented at Alta during the winter of 1940-41 by Dick Durrance. This was 15 years before wedeln came on the scene. The Dipsy Doodle was Durrance's way of getting down the narrow, steep Alta powder chutes. The name came from a 1937 record, sung by Edythe Wright with Tommy Dorsey's band. Here's a description of the technique:
"The ski nearer the fall line is lifted and stepped nearer to the fall line or across the fall line. Then the second ski is stepped parallel the first. Then the skis are both turned quickly in the direction of the step. This completes a turn to the fall line or across it. The second turn is made immediately thereafter in exactly the opposite manner, making a second quick turn in the fall line."

p. 32, Lund, Morten and Gary Schwartz, "The First Hollywood Ski Movies"

The article describes a number of Hollyood movies featuring skiing, including Thin Ice, filmed at Paradise on Mt Rainier in 1937. The film starred Tyrone Power and Sonja Henie, with skiing performed by Gretchen Kunigk and Otto Lang.

p. 35, Lund, Morten, "The Strange Story of Slalom"

This is the story of the first slalom race under FIS rules held anywhere in the world, organized by Professor Charles A. Proctor on March 8, 1928 at Hanover, New Hampshire. The article describes the invention of slalom by Arnold Lunn and his efforts to get the sport accepted by the FIS. The article includes a slalom timeline, from 1868 in Telemark county, Norway, to the 1936 Olympic Games in Garmisch, Germany.

Skiing Heritage, Autumn 1996

p. 8, Lund, Morten, "To Rescue History"

In this editorial about the importance of historical accuracy, the author notes that Pecketts was not the first resort ski school in 1927. The Lake Placid Club had a ski school at least ten years earlier.

p. 9, Allen, John, et al, "The Man Who Started It All: Otto Schniebs"

"An appreciation of the extraordinary career of Otto Schniebs is crucial to understanding the development of alpine skiing in this country if only because Schniebs was the first instructor in America to demonstrate 'alpine skiing.' He was also the first to teach Arlberg, the pioneer alpine technique. He taught hundreds the technique in three years spent around Boston in the late 1920s, just as the sport of alpine skiing was beginning to stir, giving the infant sport a robust infusion of expertise at a crucial point."

Schniebs was born on December 18, 1892 in Esslingen, Germany. He started skiing as a young child. During World War II, he was a sergeant in the mountain infantry, wounded four times. Following the war, he became a master craftsman designing pocket watch cases. He was also a nationally certified ski teacher. In 1927, he was offered a visa to the U.S. and the guarantee of a job designing watch cases in Waltham, Massachusetts. He immigrated to the U.S. in June 1927 and brought his family over a year later. In the winter of 1927-28 he skied across Boston Commons, prompting sensational newspaper headlines about "Crazy Otto on Long Snow Shoes." The Appalachian Mountain Club contacted him to give lessons.

Prior to Schniebs' arrival Nordic skiing was dominant in America. In 1915, the Lake Placid Club in New York's Adirondacks hired Jackrabbit Johannsen as the first pro. Schniebs had been trained in the Arlberg technique invented by Hannes Schneider. The authors write: "Schniebs was the first trained instructor on this side of the Atlantic to actually show how to descend almost any slope confortably in a series of controlled S-turns, a concept so enticing that the newer, more exciting alpine upstart rapidly replaced the older nordic skiing everywhere except, of course, in the Scandinavian strongholds of the Midwestern states."

Pecketts-On-Sugar-Hill, near Cannon Mountain, NH, was another early source of Arlberg instruction. During the winter of 1929-30, Katherine Peckett hired two German instructors to give ski lessons. Sig Buchmayr was hired in 1930-31 and took over the ski school in 1931-32. Pecketts was the first U.S. resort to have an Arlberg ski school permanently on the premises.

Schniebs founded the American Ski School at Lake Placid, NY. Don Traynor of the 10th Mountain Division was Schniebs' successor at Lake Placid.

p. 20, "The Ski Trooper, A Memorial to Heroes of the 10th"

This article about a memorial planned by Don Traynor states that during the Mt Spigolino patrol on January 24, 1945, Traynor and his men "remained unobserved in broad daylight while retreating some 35 miles back to safety." After the war, Traynor became head of the Lake Placid Club ski school.

p. 34, Lert, Wolfgang, "Hans Hagemeister Brought Us Good Things To Ski With"

Hans Hagemeister and the author were partners in Hagemeister-Lert, ski equipment importers from the 1950s to 1990s. The article contains many equipment facts.

The first metal ski on the market was the solid aluminum Alu 60 in 1947. In 1950, the Head Standard came onto the market. In 1960, the first two fiberglass skis appeared, the Sailer and the Plymold. In 1961, Kneissl produced the White Star and Rossignol the Vuarnet. By 1972, more fiberglass skis were sold than metal.

In 1955, Mitch Cubberly came out with the Cubco Guardian Angel, a heel-and-toe, latch-in release binding. Previous safety bindings released at the toe only. Earl Miller came out with a toe-heel, step-in binding at the same time.

Le Trappeur's Allais model was the first double-laced boot in the U.S. in 1946. Leather boots had a short period of comfort when they softened just a bit, "followed by a long period when the softening boot had to be laced ever-more excruciatingly tight." Experts compensated by wrapping long thongs around the ankle to stiffen the boot back up. In 1954, Henke made their first buckle boot, the Speedfit, with the motto, "Are you still lacing while others are racing?" In 1958, Bob Lange patented a boot made of ABS plastic that was brittle and required great effort to lace when cold. In 1963-64, Lange put buckles on his boot which enabled plastic boots to take over.

Skiing Heritage, 1st Issue 1997

p. 2, Wilson, Dick, Letter: "Friend of Barney's"

In his letter, Wilson, former editor of the National 10th Mountain Association journal, The Blizzard, questions whether the 10th's casualty rate was the highest of any U.S. Army division over three months. In response, editor Morten Lund writes that in the short time (100 days) that the 10th was in combat, 5,000 men were killed or wounded, a rate of 50 per day. At that rate, over the course of a year, roughly 100% of the 10th's men would have been killed or wounded, assuming no replacements. "Figuring that way, the 10th may possibly have a claim to the highest casualty rate (as opposed to total casualties) of any division in World War II."

p. 4, Traynor, Don, Letter: "Traynor Tells All"

Writing about the Mt Spigolino patrol, Traynor writes, "Our goal was to assess the feasibility of moving to the summit of Mt Spigolino, close to 3,000 feet above Riva Ridge, a battalion (950 men) on skis who would attack the German right flank after the Germans had been engaged by our troops on Riva Ridge below. Our small patrol luckily discovered the strong German outpost on Spigolino. At that point, we were about fifty feet away. We froze as four German mountain soldiers walked right by. It was around 6 a.m. and the temperature 15 below. On reason we weren't spotted was that the Germans never dreamed there was an American patrol within 40 miles.

"The patrol sneaked around the summit until I could see the top of Riva, orient my map and pick out the safest route off the ridge to our lines, 40 miles away. After a cautious descent down Spigolino onto Riva, we desended Riva into a deep canyon, and climbed up the other side to safety. We arrived at regimental headquarters at 2 a.m., 20 hours after starting our descent. Our report convinced General Hays that sending a battalion up Spigolino in advance would alert the Germans and spoil the surprise of the Riva attack; he cancelled the Spigolino element of the coming offensive."

(This explanation is contradicted somewhat by aaj-1946-war-p208.)

Skiing Heritage, 3rd Issue 1997

p. 25, "The Time Machine"

A brief look at several influential ski books, including Zdarsky's Lilienfelder Skilauf Technik, published 100 years ago, with a picture of the book cover. Morten Lund wrote The Pleasures of Cross Country Skiing in 1972, but Americans were not quite ready for it. The book was soon on the remainder shelves. A few years later touring caught the wave of reaction against the steeply rising costs of alpine skiing. In 1979, nine touring skis were imported for every eleven alpine skis. The ratio dropped thereafter, down to one for every four in 1995. Another book ahead of its time was Wilderness Skiing by Lito Tejada-Flores, also published in 1972.

p. 28, Lert, Wolfgang, "Mountain Dreaming in California"

Joe Merillac was ski school director at Squaw Valley in the 1950s. He helped Alec Cushing, Wayne Poulsen's partner in developing Squaw, secure the 1960 Winter Olympics for Squaw Valley.

p. 30, Rose, Gene, "A Most Dangerous Journey"

Orland Bartholomew was a hydrographer for the U.S. Forest Service in California. During the summer of 1928, Bartholomew and Ed Steen placed 11 caches, each 25 miles from the last, along a 300-mile route over what is now roughly the Muir Trail, in preparation for a winter ski expedition. Food and camping supplies were placed in thirty-gallon garbage cans and hung high in trees off the trail and out of sight. Steen later withdrew from the expedition and Bartholomew decided to make the trip alone. From Christmas Day, 1928, to April 3, 1929, Bartholomew skied with a 45-pound pack from just south of Mt Whitney to Yosemite Valley. He made the first winter ascents of Mounts Whitney, Langley and Tyndall along the way. The author writes that Bartholomew's three-month trek "stands as the ski exploration of the first half-century, unmatched as a feat of winter survival until very recently when solo ski expeditions reached both Arctic and Antarctic poles."

Note: I received an e-mail from Phil Bartholomew, Orland Bartholomew's son, who stumbled upon my website. Phil clarified that his father was, in fact, a hydrographer for the Southern California Edison Company in the early 1920's. Orland Bartholomew worked for the Forest Service from 1932 to 1952, but not as a hydrographer.

Skiing Heritage, 1st Issue 1998

p. 4, Parker, Bob, Letter: "A Unique, Forgotten 'Ski School' of the 1930s"

Bob Parker describes learning to ski using the palm-size instruction booklet that came with the Northland skis he received for Christmas in 1937. The letter is accompanied by diagrams of maneuvers, including the open christiania and telemark turns, from the Northland booklet.

Skiing Heritage, 3rd Issue 1998

p. 5, Olsen, Roger, Letter: "Norse History Specialist Corrects Heritage"

Regarding the all-Norway ski competition in Christiania, the writer notes that the first, in 1867, was won by Elling Bakken of Trysil. The Telemarkers and Sondre Norheim did not enter until the next year's competition in 1868, when they skied from Morgedal roughly 100 miles to compete. Norheim, age 43, won the competition with Elling Bakken second. Two younger Telemarkers finished in the top five. Fridtjof Nansen wrote that he had been inspired by the exploits of the Telemarkers, whom he saw skiing when he was 12, in 1873. "Nansen's first crossing of the Greenland ice cap in 1888, on skis, made good his boyhood vow to practice until he could match the fabulous men from Telemark."

p. 9, Wiard, Barbara, Letter: "A Wiard Party"

Accompanying the letter is the Saturday Evening Post cover of March 3, 1928, which shows a skier tumbling head over heels, about to crash (fine).

p. 10, Lert, Wolfgang, Letter: "The Adventures of Wolfie"

Wolfgang Lert was introduced to skiing on Mt Rainier in the summer of 1933 by Ben Thompson, who was chief climbing guide on the mountain at that time. In 1934, Lert went back to Rainier as an apprentice guide, his high school summer job. His buddy was Wendy Trosper, who took part in the first Silver Skis race that spring. Lert describes the early Silver Skis as "a scramble for survival" which he assiduously avoided. He recalls that one of his friends, "less cautious than I, entered the race and woke up a few seconds after the start lying on the snow with several of his teeth scattered around his head."

p. 19, Lund, Morten and Peter Miller, "Freestyle Comes of Age"

(Second article in a series.) From 1967 to 1969, Roger Brown and Barry Corbet of Colorado, working as Summit Films, shot The Incredible Skis, Ski the Outer Limits, and Moebius Flip. These films were important in the early growth of freestyle skiing. Brown participated in the 1961 ski descent of Mt Rainier (molenaar-1997-p169), which also produced a film.

p. 31a, "Tips and Tales: The Old Headwall"

"The Headwall of Tuckerman Ravine was first schussed in 1932 by Norwegian Olympic jumper Sigmund Ruud who hiked with Joe Dodge and started from progressively higher points until he made it all the way in one swoosh." The most famous swoosh was the first schuss in competition, accomplished in 1939 by newly-immigrated Austrian racer Toni Matt, during the third running of the American Inferno from the top of Mt Washington to Pinkham Notch.

p. 31b, "Four Worthy Skiers Enter Hall of Fame in the Class of 1998"

John Woodward was elected to the U.S. National Ski Hall of Fame in 1998. He began skiing in 1929, was PNW Intercollegiate champion in 1936, commanded the Mountain Training Group at Camp Hale comprising all the division's top instructors, and was Executive Officer of the 1st Battalion, 87th Infantry (as Major) in Italy. As a civilian, he ran the Seattle Times ski racing school and in 1950 became a partner in Anderson-Thompson. He patented the first flexible heel release binding.

p. 36, "Otto Lang and His Pioneer Steel Pole"

Describing the steel ski pole developed by Otto Lang in the late 1930s, the article says that Wendell Trosper, a Mt Rainier climbing guide who worked at A&T, assembled the shaft, grip and basket on every Lang pole sold.

Skiing Heritage, 3rd Issue 1999

p. 6, Allen, John, Letter: "A History of One Pole Versus Two"

The letter is in response to a letter from Roger Olsen in 2nd Issue 1999. The writer says that two poles were used long before the Telemarkers began using them in 1860. Two poles were depicted in a Swedish book published in 1748. He writes: "The general acceptance of two poles conincides precisely with the time that urbanites took to skiing... There is nothing the middle class likes better than a manly sport made easy." The editor comments that Fridtjof Nansen was a transitional figure, using either one or two sticks at times. "In later years, Fridtjof's son Odd Nansen 'described how his father insisted on using only one ski stick, with a heavy iron spike and no basket, although two sticks had long been accepted, and [Nansen] himself had used them crossing Greenland.'"

Skiing Heritage, 4th Issue 1999

p. 10, "Readers' Response"

In response to a letter, the editor writes that Mitch Cubberly built the first integrated toe-heel binding, a latch-in, around 1952 after working out the mathematics. Earl Miller built the first step-in relying on Cubberly's insights. By 1968, Cubberly had his own step-in, with an antifriction pad, invented with Gordon Lipe. Cubberly's binding is was the first modern step-in. Cubberly invented the ski brake in 1961, obtaining a general patent for a braking device extending below the ski.

In another letter, Kirby Gilbert writes that an article with photos, by D.M.M. Chrichton Somerville, in the March 1903 issue of the London monthly, Pearson's, supports the notion that the first decade of the 1900s was a period of transition to two poles.

p. 12, Lund, Morten, "Skiing History in Ski Cartooning"

The cartoons are accompanied by an essay that summarizes trends in skiing over the years. The author writes that the earliest U.S. school to teach the stem turn was the Lake Placid Club after the Marquis d'Albizzi and Ornulf Poulson began instructing there in 1920. They taught stemming as well as nordic techniques. Erling Strom took Poulson's place in 1928, remaining until 1938. Otto Schniebs emigrated to the U.S. in 1928 and began teaching Arlberg technique on hills around Boston. Schniebs became ski instructor for the Appalachian Mountain Club and from 1930 to 1936 headed the ski program at Dartmough College.

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