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John Allen, Andy Bigford, John Caldwell, Jeremy Davis, Kirby Gilbert, Paul Hooge, Jeff Leich, Bob Soden, Ingrid Wicken
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To preserve skiing history and to increase awareness of the sport’s heritage
Mason Beekley, 1927–2001
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Bimonthly journal and official publication of the International Skiing History Association (ISHA)
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Skiing History (USPS No. 16-201, ISSN: 23293659) is published bimonthly by the International Skiing History Association, P.O. Box 1064, Manchester Center, VT 05255.
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Reviews: Three ISHA Award Winners
A Skier’s Bucket List
This 616-page book is not something you lug to the beach. It’s a skiing media extravaganza that takes you from the Alpine heart of Europe through the Mediterranean—skiing on Corsica, anybody?—then to the north. Denmark’s green carpet of Neveplast on the roof of Copenhagen’s power plant can give you an 85-foot vertical, 365 days of the year. Move on to Eastern Europe, and to the Americas north and south, and elsewhere on the corners of the globe. This is, after all, Skiing Around the World, Volume II: Collecting Ski Resorts, by Jimmy Petterson.
Journey to the sands of Qatar and Oman, and to the massive indoor-skiing center of Dubai (104° F outside and 25° F inside). Continue to Azerbaijan, Tajikistan, North Korea—Kim Il Jung’s Masikryong does not compare well with PyeongChang, the 2018 Olympic venue in South Korea, especially for lifts.
Petterson travels as far east as Kamchatka and finishes in Antarctica: an exhausting, pleasurable, sometimes enchanting 45 chapters. Whew! You could consider it a hardcover skier’s bucket list.
How does Petterson do it—and on senior-citizen knees? The answer: live a life full of curiosity, as we are all told we should do, spiced up with the athletic joy to keep your body in motion. Every page supports that life theory. Here are magnificent skiing photographs: powder spumes follow Petterson making first tracks at Livigno and on pristine glaciers in Antarctica, then panoramic views of Kamchatka. Then ‘tourist’ photos: the author posing with skis on shoulder at St. Basil’s cathedral in Moscow, Ugandans and their animals, the 1,500-room Atlantic Palace Hotel in Dubai. There are enthusiasts skiing and swimming naked, and not a few celebrations, libations and guitar at hand.
Here I sit in rural New Hampshire and I revel in Petterson’s exploits. I ski along with him in the Alps and Scandinavia, at resorts I, too, have known, and I feel a nostalgic rush.
I turn a page or two and am in Peru, then Lesotho (not highly recommended), Greenland and the Ukraine. Turkey looks intriguing. There is a feel for the spray of powder, living free, and having a heck of a time of it for over 40 years. —E. John Allen
Skiing Around the World, Volume II: Collecting Ski Resorts by Jimmy Petterson, Published by Ski Bum Publishing Company, (2019), hardcover, $97, Winner: 2021 ISHA Baldur Award. www.skiingaroundtheworldbook.com
The Forgotten Race of the 10th Mountain Division
On June 3, 1945, the 10th Mountain Division of the US Army held a special race on Mount Mangart. At first glance, this is hardly a breathtaking announcement, but it was the first peace-time race, only 26 days after Germany’s unconditional surrender ended World War II in Europe. However, the authors of Američani na Mangartu 1945. Smučarska tekma 10. gorske divizije na Mangartu 3. junija 1945 (English translation: Americans on Mount Mangart: Ski Race of the 10th Mountain Division at Mount Mangart, Slovenia, on June 3, 1945) are more interested in detailing “a race long forgotten by Americans,” and one of which Slovenians—whose national winter sport is skiing—were unaware.
The race took place on Mount Mangart, 2,679 meters (8,789 feet), situated in today’s Slovenian Triglav National Park. This corner of the world has a varied border history whose modern roots lie in the line between the Kingdom of Italy and the Austro-Hungarian Empire. After World War I, a new border was drawn by the 1920 Rapallo Treaty. After World War II, the Morgan Line of demarcation separated Tito’s partisans and the area under Allied military administration. It was signed on June, 10, 1945, and lasted until September 15, 1947, so this ski race took place during the uncertain days of immediate post-war land settlements.
The book, in Slovenian but with chapter summaries in English, includes 10 papers presented at a conference titled Americans on Mount Mangart. The centerpiece is Brigadier Janez Kavar’s essay on the race itself. The essay details the top times: Sgt. Prager (1.05.2), followed by Sgt. Steve Knowlton six seconds back (1.11.4).
There were an astonishing number of DNFs. I can only suppose this is because none of the men had any real race practice while fighting in Italy. Readers will recognize Herbert Schneider, Dev Jennings, John Litchfield and Arthur Doucette to pick four prominent personalities among the 50 men listed.
Supporting essays explain the border problems (Karla Kofol), the general history of military skiing and the Yugoslav Partisan Olympics held in January 1945 (Aleš Guček). Col. Boštjan Blaznik, commander of the NATO Centre of Excellence for Mountain Warfare, presents an overview of modern military skiing.
The book also maintains that Alpina boots and Elan skis made their mark in North America as a result of the American connection. At just over 100 pages, with many photographs, the book brings this uncelebrated military race out of the shadows of
history. —E. John Allen
Americans on Mount Mangart: Ski Race of the 10th Mountain Division at Mount Mangart, Slovenia, on June 3, 1945. Editor: Janez Kavar. Proceedings Editor: Matijo Perko. Editor: Bohinjska Bela, Association of the Slovenian Military Mountaineers. Winner: 2021 ISHA Ullr Award. Available from firstname.lastname@example.org.
Visions of Arlberg Past
There has been a recent focus on ski-history photography. In the United States, the interest ranges from an upcoming exhibition of 1950-2000 photos by the New England Ski Museum in Franconia, New Hampshire, to the donation of Ray Atkeson’s photo archive to the University of Oregon. In Europe, an exhibition is planned of the works of Emanuel Gyger and Arnold Klopfenstein, Swiss photographers of the 1920s and ’30s, by the Swiss Alpine Museum in Bern. And now here is Martin Rhomberg and Christof Thöny’s Sichtbar: Eugen Heimhuber: Fotographien am Arlberg und Hochtannberg (English translation: Eugen Heimhuber’s Vision: Photographs of the Arlberg and Hochtannberg.) It’s 128 pages of stunning photographs by Heimhuber (1879-1966), mostly from the 1920s but some earlier.
The book is sourced from a trove of 30,000 glass plates from Heimhuber and covers a number of his excursions. This is, the editors tell us, probably the largest photo collection (estimated 250,000 taken from 1876 to 1960) from a single source with documentation to go with it.
Sichtbar has four short essays in German and translations in English. Sections portray Stuben, St. Christof, St. Anton, Lech, Zürs and Warth. We see the Arlberg before any lifts. We see single and double ski spoor in a lonely line up the Widderstein in February 1911, and on the Schindler Spitz in 1920. It’s a world gone by.
There is St.Anton before the razzmatazz of industrial downhill skiing. And Zürs, today claiming 88 lifts, but the photos show the Edelweiss and Alpenrose inns alone in the landscape.
We learn the importance of regional pioneers such as Dr. Max Madlener of Kempten and Dr. Christof Müller of Immenstadt and, yes, there is a photo of Hannes Schneider jumping off the Rendelschanze (Rendel jump) in 1914. This book is a wonderful evocation of the Arlberg, through the lens of a skilled photographer. — E. John Allen
Eugen Heimhuber’s Vision: Photographs of the Arlberg and Hochtannberg edited by Martin Rhomberg and Christof Thöny. Published by Lorenzi Verlag (2019), 128 pages, hardcover, $30. Winner: 2021 ISHA Skade Award.
Mount Assiniboine: The Story
This coffee-table book, with 336 pages and 382 images, is a tribute to the many people who made Mount Assiniboine so special. Historian Chic Scott has written more than a dozen books on the Canadian Rockies and knows the collections of the Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies, perhaps, like no other. So it’s not surprising to find Mount Assiniboine: The Story full of evocative photos of the mountains and its people.
The first section starts with the local First Nations, followed by the explorers, priests, and early mountaineers. It ends with James Outram’s first ascent of Assiniboine in September 1901. Four more sections are dominated by personalities.
During 1913-1927, A.O. Wheeler promoted the area to mountaineers and tourists, and in 1922 the Mount Assiniboine Provincial Park came into existence. Then came two mercurial skiers, the Marquis degli Albizzi and Erling Strom, who brought the first skiers into Assiniboine and got the initial Assiniboine Lodge constructed. Strom’s 55-year tenure at the lodge introduces all sorts of characters: horse wranglers, Chinese cooks, guitar-strumming cowboys, dog-sled drivers, Swiss guides, pilots, and a parade of strong women, not least Lizzie Rummel, who ran her own camp for 20 years.
During World War II, the lodge was open only in summer. After the war, although summer tourism picked up, skiing tourists preferred the rope tow, t-bar, and chairlifts. The long haul to Assiniboine on cross-country skis was no longer attractive to clients who did not have a month to spend, but only a weekend for mountain skiing.
Part Five covers the Renner Years (1983-2010), introducing many improvements. It tells how regional bureaucracy at its worst almost removed Sepp and Barb Renner as hosts; they were about to leave the lodge when they learned that their contract had been renewed. After 2010, their work was taken on by their son and two friends—a happy ending.
This book includes the sources used, a good bibliography and index, which all add to the tales of camp and lodge living, to knowledge of the prime movers and to the story of those for whom the mountain came to dominate their lives. —E. John Allen
Mount Assiniboine: The Story by Chic Scott. From Assiniboine Publishing (2020), hardcover, 336 pages and 382 images. $75. Available from The Assiniboine Lodge (assiniboinelodge.com)
Table of Contents
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