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Barney McLean, Hall-of-Famer

Barney McLean, national champion in jumping and alpine

Born July 13, 1917 in Lander, Wyoming, Robert Lloyd McLean grew up in Hot Sulphur Springs, Colo., and began ski jumping at age six. He won his first regional title at 13, on the 70-meter Ecker Hill jump near Salt Lake City. Mentored by Thor Groswold, Barney went on to win the National Class B jumping championship in 1935, but was badly hurt in a wind-blown landing that March and missed going to the 1936 Olympics.

He took his first alpine skiing lesson on Berthoud Pass in November, 1937, and while working as a driver in his father’s trucking firm, trained for slalom on weekends. He won his first race in January, 1938, and went on to win the Southern Rocky Mountain slalom championship in Aspen that spring. The following year he won the alpine combined championship – and the jumping championship. Competing against the likes of Friedl Pfeiffer and Dick Durrance, he did well enough to be named an alternate for the 1940 Olympic squad – after skiing alpine for just two years. In 1942, before enlisting in the Army Air Force, he won the US national downhill, slalom and combined titles, and the Harriman Cup downhill and combined, beating Durrance in the slalom. He beat Durrance again for the Alta Cup combined.

McLean became a flight instructor, and then transferred to teach in the Army Air Force Arctic Survival School in Edmonton. A string of postwar victories – including the very first Roch Cup in Aspen – earned him a spot on the 1948 Olympic team.

Barney worked in the Groswold ski factory in Denver, supervising quality control and designing skis. The job cost him his amateur status and in 1950 he was disqualified from FIS racing. He worked as assistant director of the Sun Valley Ski School, then joined a sales rep firm to handle ski gear and skiwear in the Rockies.

He raced, and won, on the master’s circuit until 1958, and was inducted into the US National Ski Hall of Fame in 1959, and into the Colorado Ski Hall of Fame in 1978.

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