You ever wonder where the legends of skiing and snowboarding are today? They reunite each year at a different location during Snowsport History Week to celebrate. This year in Stowe, Vermont marks the 26th annual gathering hosting the ISHA Awards Dinner, parties, on-snow gatherings and the induction of 9 newly elected Honored Members of the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame. Speaking of history, let’s take a look at how we got this far.
In the spring of 1991, the late Mason Beekley founded the nonprofit International Skiing History Association (ISHA), initially as a way to encourage more research on the subject, with a quarterly newsletter to publish original articles. By late summer the new organization had about 150 charter members. It was time for a national “convention.”
Doug Pfeiffer organized the inaugural ISHA Gathering at Whistler, British Columbia, in April 1992. Present were Mason and his wife Licia Beekley, Morten Lund, Andrea Mead Lawrence, Penny Pitou, Glenn and Donna Parkinson, Kazuo Ogawa, John O’Meara, Ekkhart Ulmrich, Doug and Ginny Pfeiffer, Worthington Mixer, and Mick Hull.
A year later, ISHA’s Second Annual Gathering, at Sugarbush, Vermont, presented the first annual ISHA Awards to the late Sir Arnold Lunn and to John Henry Auran, for Lifetime Achievement in Ski Journalism. The gathering was a three-day affair, with an Awards Banquet, a “Movers and Shakers” party to celebrate the history of skiing at the resort where the gathering took place, and lots of skiing by participants.
Following Mason Beekley’s death in August 2001, his successor as President, John Fry, initiated a Beekley Memorial Lecture, which was added to the schedule. Over the decades, the ISHA Gathering attracted as many as a hundred participants, and rotated through Aspen, Banff, Deer Valley, Mammoth, Mont Tremblant, Park City, Steamboat, Stowe, Squaw Valley, Sun Valley, and Vail.
In 2005-2006 the name was changed from the Annual ISHA Gathering to Skiing Heritage Week, better to align with ISHA’s magazine, Skiing Heritage. In 2011, Bernie Weichsel, Board Chairman of the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame led a collaborative effort with ISHA to add the Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony to the line-up as the featured event concluding Skiing Heritage Week that year in Sun Valley, ID. This move marked the beginning of a new chapter as the event evolved.
Attendance swelled in Sun Valley to 600 people who gathered to celebrate. The energy and passionate vibe in Sun Valley was due in large part to those attending the first reunion of the legends of freestyle skiing.
The following five years saw stops in Seattle, Vail, Park City, Steamboat Springs and Aspen, with each bringing more attendees and a more robust schedule. In 2013, Skiing Heritage magazine was renamed Skiing History. The event name changed too, to Skiing History Week, bringing ISHA, its magazine and its premier event into linguistic harmony.
Continuing as co-hosts of Skiing History Week, the Hall of Fame and ISHA introduced new reunion parties, local celebrity talks, a film festival, alumni parties and more organized ski days adding pizzazz to the existing lineup.
The Hall of Fame brought with it an event-devoted board and staff, augmenting Skiing History Weeks existing components of organization, marketing and promotion. The Hall of Fame also brought a diverse and ever-changing geographic following. Because the Hall of Fame selects and inducts a new class each year, the event started to attract attendees from all corners of the United States, who came to see their friends, family members or colleagues as they were honored at the Induction Ceremony.
After the Aspen events success in 2016, it was clear that this was now the primary annual event for both ISHA and the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame helping both organizations to promote history and heritage together.
Both organizations aim to educate, preserve and showcase historic events and individual accomplishments in wintersports. ISHA fulfils this mission through its bi-monthly Skiing History magazine, its extensive website (skiinghistory.org) and its annual awards program. The Hall of Fame accomplishes a similar goal through its annual induction and its 18,000-square-foot museum located at the birthplace of organized skiing in America – Ishpeming, Michigan.
In 2016 during preparations for the event in Stowe, VT the name was officially changed to Snowsport History Week. 2017 marks the 40th anniversary of snowboarding. With the growing number of historic snowboarding stories and nominations of snowboarders to the Hall of Fame, it was time. The U.S. Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame went through a similar name change with its organization in 2007, for the same reason.
The goal of Snowsport History Week is to be an organized gathering of industry supporters to celebrate the historic work and accomplishments of athletes, authors, coaches, filmmakers, historians, resort leaders, equipment and technique innovators, and other pioneers who have made our sports what they are today. Through collaborative efforts with national organizations and museums that share similar objectives, Snowsport History Week coordinators aim to spread awareness and educate attendees on the history and heritage of the various host resorts and communities around the United States.
Snowsport History Week is an opportunity to celebrate together and make turns with friends while paying tribute to the game-changers, who deserve recognition at the end of each season.
– Justin Koski | Executive Director | U.S. Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame