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    Ski History from Ancient times through the 1700’s

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  • Longboards to the Olympics

    Take a tour of “A Century of Tahoe Winter Sports” by Author Mark McLaughlin

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  • Story of the 1960 Winter Olympics

    Learn why the 1960 Olympics were a “Snowball’s Chance” told through the book of David C. Antonucci

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  • The Bill Briner Photo Collection

    See the remarkable Olympic Photo Collection of Bill Briner

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  • Best of Tahoe

    Learn about the Tahoe regions Ski Heroes from the 1800’s to Today!

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Best of Tahoe

“Tahoe’s Best” is a display in progress which includes an overview of all the great winter athletes of the Tahoe region. From “A to Z” the outstanding athletes are listed with a description of their accomplishments.

In alpine events alone, no fewer than 50 U.S. Ski Team members, 20 Olympians, and a dozen national champions have come from the Tahoe Basin.  More than a few have their names honored in the National Ski Hall of Fame.

(Pictured are: Daron Rahlves, Tamra McKinney, Jimmie Heuga and Julia Mancuso.)

Below is a short list of “Tahoe’s Best”:

All-Tahoe Ski Team

In alpine events alone, no fewer than 50 U.S. Ski Team members, 20 Olympians, and a dozen National Champions have come from the Tahoe Basin. More than a few have their names honored in the National Ski Hall Of Fame.

SHANNON BAHRKE:  A two-time Olympic medalist, freestyle skier and Homewood native Shannon Bahrke excelled on the world stage despite an injury-riddled career. In 2003 she won the World Cup Freestyle title, in addition to earning a silver medal in the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics and a bronze in Vancouver’s 2010 games. She now owns a Salt Lake City-based coffee roasting company called Silver Bean Coffee.

DICK BUEK: This Soda Springs’ native was a top ski athlete, twice winner of the National Downhill Championship (1952 and 1954), and an Olympian in l952. A superlative downhill racer, he became legendary as the “Mad Dog” of Donner Summit.

DICK DORWORTH: One more in a long line of Tahoe’s groundbreaking skiers, Dorworth grew up in Zephyr Cove and raced for the Reno Ski Club. He was a superb down-hiller and Far West Champion. Dorworth was chosen, by then coach Bob Beattie, to the first ever U.S. National Development Team. He put pure ego and speed on the map in 1963 by breaking all existing world speed skiing records, inspiring a generation of speed skiers. A former U.S. Ski Team coach, Director of Skiing at Aspen, Dorworth, now resides in Ketchum ID.

LUGGI FOEGER: He was an international competitor and ski instructor-turned-American-ski-area-manager-and-developer. Though he helped create Badger Pass, Alpine Meadows, Northstar, Ski Incline (now Diamond Peak), and the Olympic Village Inn, being on skis remained his passion. Considered a top racer, especially in slalom, Foeger was a member of the famed group of instructors from St. Anton who became disciples of Hannes Schneider. He also developed the first modern-day safety binding.

LARS HAUGEN: A member of the Lake Tahoe Ski Club, Lars won the Class A National Ski Jumping Championship seven times. His brother, Anders, wasn’t so bad either. He won three National titles and earned America’s first Olympic Medal in winter sports, the Bronze at Chamonix in 1924.

JIMMIE HEUGA: Another skier from the Lake Tahoe Ski Club, Heuga was a member of the U.S. Ski Team from 1959 to 1968, and he skied in two World Championships and two Olympics. Though most remember the Tahoe City resident for winning the Bronze in slalom at Innsbruck, Heuga also placed fifth in the combined at the 1962 Worlds, and fourth and sixth four years later at the Worlds in Chile. To the end of his shortened career, due to multiple sclerosis, Heuga competed strongly, finishing in the top ten in the slalom and GS at the Grenoble Olympics.

BOB HOWARD: This Reno native was a three-time World Ballet freestyle Champ from 1979 to 1981. He’s gone on to coach top ballet skiers such as Lane Spina, Ellen Breen, and Roberto Franco. He continues to promote and choreograph ski shows around the world.

BILL HUDSON: skied for parts of four years on the World Cup circuit, posting one top 10 in a combined event. At a World Cup downhill on the Hahnenkamm in Kitzbühel, Austria in 1991, Hudson suffered a terrifying crash. He was fortunate to be alive, spent months in rehab, and was never again the same skier.

GREG JONES: A National Champion in the 1976 downhill event, this Lake Tahoe Ski Club member is revered for his giant slalom racing. He took several first place victories on the Europa Cup and a victory in World Cup at Copper Mountain. He participated in the 1974 Worlds and in 1976 won Olympic Bronze in the combined.

KRISTNE KRONE:  skied for four years on the World Cup circuit, posting three top 10 finishes, one in downhill, one in Super-G, and one in combined. She was the 1989 US Super-G and combined champion. At the 1990 Pan-American Winter Games, Krone placed sixth in downhill and eighth in Super-G.

JULIA MANCUSO: She’s shined at two Winter Olympics—Turin in 2006 and Vancouver in 2010—capturing Gold in giant slalom in ’06 and two Silvers, downhill and combined, at Vancouver. Since making her World Cup debut at age 15 in 1999, Mancuso has won seven World Cup races plus two silvers and two bronze medals at the World Championships. Last season, she was 2nd in Super G standings and 4th in Overall World Cup standings.

SHANE MCCONKEY:  From skier cross to big mountain skiing and BASE-jumping, Squaw Valley’s Shane excelled at everything he did. He competed in the X Games, was a U.S. Freeskiing National Champion and starred in a number of films before dying in a BASE-jumping accident in Italy in 2009. His pioneering use of fat skis and reverse-camber skis changed the way the world powder skis and he was posthumously inducted into the U.S. Ski and Snowboarding Hall of Fame in 2011.

STEVE McKINNEY: “Racing for pure speed is uncomplicated, straightforward, and decisive,” he once wrote, and for more than a decade Stevie backed it up. He posted, over and over, unheard of times in world speed skiing competitions, breaking five world records. A gifted all-around athlete, he also hang-glided off Mt. Everest and was a member of the U.S. Ski Team. Later, in his all but too short life, he was chosen to be an FIS Delegate representing the United States.

TAMARA McKINNEY: McKinney’s 14-year career on the National Team saw her capture nine national titles, three World Cup discipline titles, the overall World Cup title, 18 World Cup races, and one Gold and two Bronzes in World Championship competition. Breaking her leg in 10 places, which forced her to end her amateur racing career, the three-time Olympian soon after made one of her noted comebacks by winning the overall, Jeep/Eagle Tournament of Champions.

ROY MIKKELSEN: A U.S. Olympic ski jumper in 1932 and 1936, Mikkelsen was national jumping champion in 1933 and 1935, and he also rated among the nation_s top downhill and slalom competitors from 1933-42.

JONNY MOSELEY: When Jonny Moseley nailed a 360 mute grab to capture Gold in moguls at the 1998 Nagano Winter Games, he instantly cementing his place as an Olympic legend.  The first man to win both Olympic and X-Games medals, Moseley also notched 17 World Cup wins and twice was Overall World Cup Champion, 1995 and ‘96.

LYLE NELSON: Far from a household word, biathlete Nelson nevertheless represented the United States in four Olympics. A Smithsonan rarity who fed off aggressiveness and drive the way others feed off vitamin C, this West Point grad and longtime Donner Summit resident won the 10K Nationals at age 39 and competed internationally well into his 40’s.

BOB ORMSBY:  He was a member of the United States National Ski Team for eight years, a member of the 1988 United States Olympic team that competed in Calgary, and a two-time National Slalom Champion. At one time, he reached 18th in the world slalom rankings.

SHAWN PALMER: The South Lake native excelled at everything he tried, from snowboard half-pipe to skier cross, boarder cross, motocross, auto racing and downhill mountain biking. While his first major victory was as a snowboarder, gold at the 1990 Half Pipe World Championship, from 1996-2008 Palmer medaled in world-class competition in five different sports. He’s won 6 Winter X Games gold medals in three different sports. As a mountain biker, he won silver at the 1996 World Championships in downhill and gold at the 1999 Worlds in dual slalom.

ERIC POULSEN: Squaw Valley’s Eric Poulsen Eric skied to consistent top-ten finishes on the World Cup circuit. During his career, the Squaw Valley racer became one of the few international skiers to be seeded in the top-15 of each discipline –slalom, giant slalom, and downhill.  Named to the team in 1969, Poulsen was a collegiate All-American at the University of Denver. In 1971, he won the giant slalom and placed second in the slalom at the prestigious World University Games. Notable finishes included a sixth-place at Kitzbuel in the legendary Hahnenkamm downhill and a fourth place in a giant slalom in Murren, Switzerland.  Poulsen did persevere through tragic injuries. He came back from injury onto the U.S. squad and skied well for two more years before turning pro in 1975. He won the Sierra-Tahoe Pro tour his rookie year.

SANDRA POULSEN: She was the only girl of eight children, and two of her brothers, Eric and Lance, skied on the US team on the World Cup circuit. She skied for the University of Nevada and on the World Cup circuit from 1970-74. She had one World Cup podium, a third-place in giant slalom at Les Contamines, France, in 1971, but also posted 14 top 10 finishes. In 1971-72 Poulsen placed 16th in the overall World Cup.

WAYNE POULSEN: Famous as the original developer of Squaw Valley, Poulsen was also owner/operator pf Nevada’s first ski resort a decade before, in 1939, on Mt. Rose. As a surveyor for Dr. James Church’s snow studies, at age 16, Poulsen would ski up Mt. Rose and spend a good portion of the winter on top. Founder and coach of the championship University of Reno ski team, the strong-minded, strong-bodied Poulsen was one of the best jumpers of his era, winning the overall California State Championship in 1932.

DARON RAHLVES:  Downhill ski racer, Daron Rahlves, became the first U.S. skier in a generation to win the prestigious Hahnenkamm Downhill race in Kitzbuhel, Austria, in 2003. Over his World Cup career, he won 12 races and shined at the World Championships, taking Gold in super G in 2001 and Silver and Bronze in 2005 in downhill and giant slalom, respectively. Upon retiring from World Cup alpine skiing in 2006, Rahlves took up skier cross and won X Games gold in 2008.

REED ROBINSON: A member of the U.S. Disabled Ski Team for over a decade, Robinson made skiing history several years back by winning medals in both the alpine and Nordic, World Disabled Ski Championships. The Incline Village native won over 10 national titles in addition to taking Gold in slalom in the Worlds in 1990. A former speed skier, the one-armed Robinson still races Monday Motivation at Alpine Meadows.

SPIDER SABICH: This native of Kyburz, off Highway 50, learned to ski on Echo Summit. Although he had nine operations on his legs during the short span of his time as a U.S. Ski Team member, Sabich still captured several World Cup races, a national title in downhill, and he placed fifth in the 1968 Olympic slalom. Retiring as an amateur in 1971, he went on to win the World Pro Ski title two years in a row.

SCOT SCHMIDT: OK, so nobody freak! Maybe Scot can’t hang in on a turn in World Cup GS or compete today on the level of today’s extremists, but this former Far West racer and Tahoe resident put the word “extreme” on the map. Absolutely fearless, Schmdt has performed amazing jumps and turns in too many ski films to name. A complete skier and good alpinist, few, if any, Americans did it better in chutes, powder, or in the air.

HANS STANDTEINER: Which one, senior or junior? Hey, how about both? The Austrian born, Hans senior, has been a coach or instructor in Turkey, Iran, Austria, Italy, Chile, Sugarbush, Indianhead, Sugar Bowl, Alpine Meadows, and Squaw Valley. So he can’t hold a job. Who cares? This wonderful man has influenced many who have gone on to compete successfully abroad.

As for his son, Hansi, he didn’t do too bad either. Hansi won several FIS races around the world, including an Europa Cup as a member of the U.S. Ski Team from 1979 to 1985. Hansi then went on to beat up on the pros. In 1985 he finished fifth overall, earned Rookie Of The Year honors, and he was a top money winner for the next six years.

JACK STARRETT: Most folks around here remember Jack for starting the Village Store in Tahoe City. Few, however, recall that it was Starrett in the 1940s and 50s who would cross-country to Truckee and back when the roads were closed, with the mail. The route he traveled over is now the course for the 18-mile, Great Ski Race.

FRANK STEWART: A member of the Alturas Ski Club in Plumas County, Stewart still reigns as hero of the “Lost Sierra.” An authentic ski pioneer, Stewart was a long-board champion obtaining speeds close to 100 mph in the late 1800s. He was one of the few who not only raced, but also made his own skis and dope (wax). His head-to-head victory in Johnsville over Snow-Shoe Thompson is truly the stuff of legends.

JOHN “SNOW-SHOE” THOMPSON: He has to be mentioned mainly because so many still do not realize his accomplishments. For 20 years, beginning in 1856, this pioneer tracked the Sierra-Nevada to carry mail between California and Western Utah Territory (Nevada). He skied on groove less but cambered skis known as “Norwegian Snow-Shoes,” and he also wrote quasi-scientific articles defining ski contests and ski techniques that are remarkably similar to today’s slalom, downhill, and recreational skiing formats. Buried in 1876 in Genoa NV, this fellow was truly a king of the hill, and one grand dude.

EDITH THYS:  She skied on the World Cup circuit for six years, with one podium finish in a Super-G. Thys specialized in the Super-G, finishing ninth at the 1991 World Championships, and at the 1988 Winter Olympics. Of her five World Cup top 10s, four were in Super-G and one in downhill.

STAN TOMLINSON: Known as the “Maestro,” the affable Tomlinson taught skiing at Squaw Valley for 50 years. Raised in British Columbia, Tomlinson began skiing in 1932. After WWII he became a patrolman at Sun Valley, then he came to Squaw with Emile Allais. Effortless on his skis, whether in powder or bumps, Stan was poetry in motion.

EVA TWARDOKENS:  Eva is a 2X Olympian in Alpine Skiing ( Albertville and Lillehammer ) and a 12 year veteran of the U.S. Ski Team. She has won 6 National Championships, Won a world Championship Bronze Medal, and is a World Technical Skiing Champion. She is now sharing her ski skills on the hill, as well as teaching people how to move off the hill. This year she was inducted to the US Ski Hall of Fame.

STARR WALTON:  She competed in the Olympic Games at Innsbruck, Austria. She was the top American finisher in the downhill and finished nine over-all in world rankings. Ms Walton-Hurley has both United States Junior and Senior National Champion titles and was voted “Skier of the Year” by The Winter Sports Writers Association in 1963


(If you are missing from the list or think of someone who should be included please contact me at: stanbatiste@gmail.com –  thanks!)

Written by Maryann L. Batiste