Fifty Years Ago, Portillo Changed Everyone’s Idea About Skiing Below The Equator.
At the time, it was a wild idea. Hold the FIS World Championships in Chile, at Portillo, at 3,300 meters, in the Northern hemisphere’s summer. Somehow, resort owner Henry Purcell convinced the FIS to award the 1966 event to the nascent resort. Despite a 1965 hurricane that destroyed lifts and created monstrous snow falls and avalanches, the FIS held fast and the World Championships were (heroically) held in the Andes with skiers gathering from all over the world. You can read about Portillo’s history here.
In the commemorative documentary video below, you’ll see Henry Purcell, the owner, describing how the event changed the world’s view of South American skiing. Nancy Green, Canadian super star, Austrian ski race legends Egon Zimmerman, Hermann Maier, and Erik Schinegger, Carlos Senorer, Italian gold medal winner, and even modern day whiz Ted Ligety offer their thoughts and memories about that most pivotal event.
Portillo continues to attract summer skiers and racers preparing for the season. As we have seen, this season has had its moments of really, really big snowfalls. Click here for a report of a nine-foot snowfall this June. Have you skied ‘way down south?