ISHA’s 2016 Skiing History Week at Aspen.

Author compares patches with Richard Allen of Vintage Ski World . Credit: Jan Brunvand
Author compares patches with Richard Allen of Vintage Ski World . Credit: Jan Brunvand

The International Skiing History Association (ISHA) and the US Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame held their annual Skiing History Week at Aspen on April 5 – 10. My wife Judy and I attended, partly for the presentations, but also for the $32 day passes.

How avid are people about skiing history? Very! Folks lined up to buy a 240-page book on the history of ski poles written in Norwegian. Most bought it as a collector’s item, signed by the author, Karin Berg, director of the Holmenkollen Ski Museum. Berg received a Lifetime Achievement Award.

Maybe a few others, like me, hoped they could read some of the book by drawing on dim childhood memories of our Norwegian parents speaking the language at home and making liberal use of a dictionary. If not, well the illustrations are lavish.

The welcome on Wednesday evening included a tribute to Aspen, which happens to be my first Western ski resort. In 1954 as an undergrad at Michigan State I came with ski club pals during spring break. Passes were $21 per week, and rooms were $5.00 a night. We ate cheap dinners at the Red Onion, still an Aspen fixture.

In those days I didn’t even consider entering the ritzy Hotel Jerome. How things have changed.

At Thursday night’s banquet in the Jerome, ISHA presented annual awards “For Outstanding Creative Works of Ski History.” These included eight other books, one more in Norwegian and two in German. We came away with a couple more: License to Jump! about women’s ski jumping, and Freedom Found, the autobiography of filmmaker Warren Miller.

On Friday a buffet dinner was followed by two lectures. One was a presentation by sons of skiing legend Dick Durrance with film clips and photos including his time at Alta. The second was on the Warren Miller book by his collaborator Andy Bigford.

The highlight of the Hall of Fame program was the induction ceremony Saturday for seven new members at a banquet at the St. Regis. Two inductees had Utah connections: Bob Salerno, pioneer freestyler and a native of Ogden learned to ski at Snowbasin; and the late Edgar Stern, founder of Deer Valley. There were also memorial presentations on Olympic champions who died in the past year, Stein Eriksen and Bill Johnson.

MV5BNTc3MjU5ODc0M15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMDMyMTk3Mg@@._V1_UY268_CR4,0,182,268_AL_Five ski films received awards. Since these were screened in the daytime when we would rather be skiing, we skipped them, but, at least, we had seen the 1969 classic Downhill Racer honored as “one of the best sports films ever made.”

Among skiing greats we met this year were racers Klaus Obermeyer and Billy Kidd; the writers or editors Doug Pfeiffer, John Fry, and Harry Kaiser; and early freestylers Genia Fuller Crews and Barbara Alley.

How was the skiing? Very good spring conditions all week, meaning a bit crunchy on the groomers in the morning and softer snow as the days warmed. Definitely worth the trip and the lift prices.

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