Lake Tahoe Ski Club History ~ By Eddy Ancinas
During the 1920s, skiers and spectators came from Truckee on the “Snowball Express” to lodge in rustic luxury the Tahoe Tavern on Lake Tahoe and ride in horse-drawn sleighs to watch the jumpers leap from the hill above the present golf course in Tahoe City.
In 1929, when the Tahoe City Chamber of Commerce learned they had won their bid for the 1932 National Jumping and Cross Country Races, they also learned that the Tahoe Tavern would no longer be open for winter; and therefore would be unable to sponsor that important event. The local ski club would have to rise to the occasion.
As a result, the Lake Tahoe Skii Club was founded in 1929, when they elected officers, wrote their constitution and raised $10,000 to build a jump hill worthy of the first national ski meet held west of the Rockies. Designed by Lars Haugen at nearby Granlibakken, the 60 meter jump took two years (1928-29) to construct. In 1931 it was tested and named “Olympic Hill,” when Lake Tahoe Skii Club sponsored its first race–the California State Championships and tryouts for the 1932 U.S. Olympic Team.
When California made an unsuccessful bid for the 1932 Olympics (awarded to Lake Placid) in 1930, they recognized the need for national representation. With Auburn Ski Club’s President, Wendell Robie, in a leadership role; the California Ski Association (later, the Far West Ski Association) was created, with Auburn and Lake Tahoe Ski Clubs, along with clubs from Truckee, Nevada City, Reno, Los Angeles (Viking) and Yosemite as the charter members.
The 1932 Nationals brought the country’s best competitors to Lake Tahoe and launched the Lake Tahoe Skii Club’s long career of race and racer sponsorships—but that’s not all they did! Since the 1930s, just about everyone who lived North Lake Tahoe was associated with the Lake Tahoe Skii Club. In its early years, the club cleared cross-country trails, maintained the sixty-meter jump on Olympic Hill, sponsored meets, invested in equipment, provided instruction for members and gave lavish parties with music, dancing and beauty contests.
The club sponsored Nordic and Alpine events in Squaw Valley in the 1950s and was a sponsoring club for the 1960 Olympics. During the 60s and 70s, while the Lake Tahoe Ski Club was affiliated with Alpine Meadows, they sponsored the U.S. Junior Nationals in 1964 and the Far West Kandahar in 1965 and 1967.
During that same period, the Ski Club’s junior race program at Alpine Meadows produced many U.S. Ski Team members and future Olympians, including Greg and Vickie Jones, Cheryl Bechdolt, Bobby Ormsby and Lance, Eric and Sandra Poulsen. Coached by Argentine Olympian Osvaldo Ancinas, Pepi Greimeister and Bud Jones (father of Greg and Vickie), team members consistently placed in the top ten at regional and national races.
In 2002, after years of training at Squaw Valley, Alpine Meadows, Boreal Ridge (as a partner with Auburn Ski Club), then back to Squaw Valley, the ski club found themselves back where they began: a local ski club, un-associated with a ski area, whose members and competitors represented the entire North Lake Tahoe community. The Board voted to continue raising funds for local competitors under the name of The Lake Tahoe Ski Club Foundation.
There’s no doubt that the Lake Tahoe Ski Club has produced more National and Olympic ski competitors than any other club in the nation.