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John Elvrum, jumper

Passing Date: 
Tuesday, July 4, 2006

John Elvrum, 97, jumper and Snow Valley developer

Hall of Famer held U.S. jumping record in '30s, then served in 10th Mountain Division.

U.S. National Ski Hall of Fame member.

Elvrum, born in Trondheim, Norway, developed Snow Valley Ski Area in California's San Bernardino Mountains for three decades.

After a successful career as a ski jumper in Norway, Elvrum emigrated to Portland, Oregon in 1930 and became a ski instructor. In 1934, he set the U.S. ski jumping record of 240 feet, and became the U.S. National Jumping Champion. During the 1934 Winter Ski Carnival near Wrightwood, California, he was hired by the Lake Arrowhead Corp. to promote skiing in the San Bernardino mountains. Local skiers had laid out trails at Fish Camp beginning in 1924. In 1937, Sverre Engen built a base lodge there. The following year, the resort was purchased by Arrowhead Springs Hotel, and Elvrum took over as manager of the ski hill.

When the hotel went bankrupt in early 1941 , John and Genevive Elvrum bought the ski hill at auction for an amount variously reported as $3,000 or $5,000. They renamed it Snow Valley.

On the outbreak of World War II, Elvrum was drafted, and by 1943 had talked his way into the 10th Mountain Division. He fought in the Italian campaign.

After the war, the Elvrums returned to Snow Valley and, with money borrowed from railroad heir Cortland Hill, built a mile-long ski lift in 1947. By 1949, Snow Valley’s lifts could put 2400 skiers per hour at the summit. A new base lodge followed. With more lifts and a snowmaking system, eventually the resort could handle 7000 skiers per hour.

In 1968, Elvrum was elected to the U.S. National Ski Hall of Fame in Ishpeming, Michigan. He was inducted along with Julius Blegen, Roland Palmedo, Sel Hannah, and Sir Arnold Lunn.

In 1971, Elvrum sold Snow Valley to a group of investors.

Compiled from several sources by Seth Masia.

Photo: John Elvrum jumping at Mt. Hood, 1937. Al Monner photo -- click on photo to order print.

 

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