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Ivar Halvorsen, Nordic wooden ski maker

Passing Date: 
Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Nordic wooden ski maker

Ivar Halvorsen, the last of the Nordic wooden ski makers, died at age 93 on August 25, 2010, in Nittedal, Norway. He was born July 17, 1917, to his calling. As a boy, athletic and strong from having worked with his carpenter father, he began cross-country ski racing. But his competitive career was interrupted by World War II, when ski racing was banned in occupied Norway.

After the war, with a family to support, he still found time to race and coach local youngsters. Carpentry was his livelihood, and he knew ski making from having been apprenticed at age 14 in his uncle’s ski factory. In 1952 he combined those two skills and started making skis part time in a small workshop that he had built in an unused outbuilding. His skis sold so well that he switched to full-time ski making, and by the mid 1960s had a small but modern ski factory with a workforce of nine.

Local racers, coached by him and using his skis, excelled, most famously Odd Martinsen, the bemedaled racer of the 1960s and 1970s who went on to chair the FIS Cross-Country Committee. Word spread of the worth of Blå Skia (“Blue Skis”), so branded because of their tip-to-tail blue stripe. In the 1968 Grenoble Winter Olympics, racers on eight national teams were on Blå Skia, astounding for a factory that produced no more than 8,000 pairs a year. –M. Michael Brady

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