Skiing and history aren’t mentioned in the same sentence too often in North America, which is unfortunate because there’s a lot of living skiing history still around, particularly in the Washington-B.C. area.
Several members of the famous 10th Mountain Division, the division that trained in Colorado for the Second World War, live in the Seattle area, as do some of Europe’s skiing pioneers, such as Otto Lang and Franz Gabl. The Vancouver and Seattle areas also have strong ties to Sun Valley, the first true destination ski resort in North America and the place where the chairlift was invented.
And long before people came to Whistler for skiing, Grouse, Seymour Cypress and Mount Baker were where Vancouver residents went to ski and ski race.
The living embodiment of much of this ski history is the Ancient Skiers Association, a non-profit organization formed in Seattle in 1982. Originally it was only open to people who had skied prior to World War II and before there were any lifts. Now, anyone over 60 can be an Ancient Skier.
The Ancient Skiers have also been working on a museum of Pacific Northwest ski history and have established a hall of fame. They have a huge collection of material, donated by former Olympians and ski industry people, but no where to display it — yet.
Sandy Martin, who skied and raced in the Lower Mainland and the Pacific Northwest in the 1930s and ’40s and was one of the first developers in Whistler in the 1960s, is a member of the Ancient Skiers Association and is hoping to bring a group of them to Whistler in the spring, sometime after their annual reunion at Sun Valley.
Martin is also hoping to build Canadian interest in the Ancient Skiers. A lifetime membership is $100. Fax Martin at (604) 465-2074 for more information.