Winter Park, formerly known as West Portal, is dedicated on January 28, 1940 and becomes the crown jewel of Denver’s Mountain Park System (Winter Park, Colorado’s Favorite for Fifty Years, 1940-1990.)
The 1940 Winter Olympics Games are not held due to the war in Europe.
Aspen hosts the National Alpine Championships. Toni Matt wins the downhill held on Roch Run. **Dick Durrance takes second .The National Ski Championships establish Aspen's reputation in alpine racing circles and put Roch Run and Colorado on the ski map. (The Hauk Report on Aspen Mountain Ski Area Chronology)
The U. S. enters World War II in December after the Japanese bomb Pearl Harbor.
In April of 1942 construction starts on Camp Hale at Pando. The ski troops move into quarters in November. The Army constructs the “world's longest T-Bar” --6,000 feet -- at Cooper Hill on Tenessee Pass where the recruits learn to ski. (Documentary paper, “The Building of Camp Hale” by J.R. Smith; The Invisible Men on Skis, by Rene L. Coquoz)
The 99th Infantry Battalion, composed of Norwegian nationals, trains with the U.S. ski troops at Camp Hale from December 1942 until August, 1943. The unit takes part in the European campaigns and after the war disarms the German garrison in Norway. (Paper, 99th Infantry BN.Sep.)
The National Ski Patrol serves as part of the Home Defense System in 1942, specifically, search and rescue and fire-fighting. (American Ski Annual, 1943) The Southern Rocky Mountain Ski Association establishes a system of aircraft crash rescue groups. Practice missions originate from Lowry Field in Denver under **Art Kidder's direction.
No Winter Olympic Games are held in 1944 due to the war.
Steamboat Springs holds its 31st annual Winter Sports Carnival in conjunction with the Fourth War Loan drive of Routt County. The event nets $110,000 in war bond subscriptions. Torger Tokle (10th Mountain Division) wins the jumping competition. He is later killed in the Italian campaign. (The History of Skiing at Steamboat Springs, by Sureva Towler)
The Glen Cove ski area on Pikes Peak is turned over to the military for the duration of the war. Camp Carson and Peterson Field use the ski area for physical training exercises. **Don Lawrie and the Pikes Peak Ski Club host the first all-military ski meet “in history” at Glen Cove on April 23, 1944. Seven military installations are represented with Camp Hale taking nine of the ten first places. **Barney McLean, skiing for Buckley Field in Denver, takes fifth. (American Ski Annual, 1944-45; Carson Mountaineer, April 27, 1944; Wingspread, Dec. 23, 1943.)
The 10th Mountain Division is deployed to Italy where it becomes a part of the 5th Army under the command of General Mark Clark. On January 26, 1945, troops move into the Apennine Mountains. The assault on Riva Ridge takes place on Feb. 18th; Mount Belvedere is taken shortly after, and by May 2, 1945 the war in Italy is over.
WORLD WAR II ends on August 14, 1945
**Friedl Pfeifer returns to Aspen. He teams up with **Walter Paepcke, who is interested in establishing a cultural center for business executives. They form the Aspen Ski Corporation. Pfeifer begins the development of Aspen Mountain and starts a ski school. (Hauk Report on the Chronology of Aspen [Ajax] Mountain and Nice Goin’, by Friedl Pfeifer)
Arapahoe Basin, Inc. on the western slope of Loveland Pass, is incorporated by **Larry Jump, Sandy Schauffler and **Dick Durrance. They team up with **Max Dercum who owns property along the Snake River plus several mining claims in the area. (Hauk Report on the chronology of the Arapahoe ski area.)
In Aspen, the “longest chairlift in the world” (a single) begins operating on Dec. 14, 1946 on Ajax Mountain. The first annual Roch Cup is run. **Barney McLean wins. The Aspen Skiing Corporation buys a downtown block from the D & RG Railroad for $50. (Hauk Report on Aspen [Ajax] Mountain Ski Area Chronology)
Heron Engineering Company of Denver, in business since 1911 manufacturing aerial trams used in mining operations, starts designing and installing ski lifts in Colorado. Brothers **Robert and Webb Heron install Aspen’s two single-chair lifts. Heron will go on to design Berthoud’s double chair in 1947 and Arapahoe’s two T-bar tows. In 1952 they are licensed to make the T-Bar tows patented by Ernest Constam of Switzerland. (Denver Post, Empire section, Jan.24, 1955, “They Gave Skiing a Lift.”)
Steamboat Springs hosts the National Ski Jumping Championships for the first time. Alf Engen sets a new jumping distance record of 259 feet on Howelsen Hill. (The History of Skiing at Steamboat Springs)
Arapahoe Basin opens its first official season of 1946 - 1947 with a rope tow. Two single chairlifts are installed the following year. The official dedication of the area is held on Feb. 15, 1948. (Hauk Report on the Skiing Chronology of Arapahoe Basin)
**Fred Iselin joins the Aspen ski school. **Dick Durrance becomes the manager of the Aspen ski area. (The Man on the Medal, by Dick Durrance.)
An AP article describes Steamboat Springs as "Ski Town USA" and the label sticks. In 1987 the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club registers it as a trade name. (The History of Skiing at Steamboat Springs.)
**Klaus Obermeyer, a popular Aspen ski instructor, founds America’s largest skiwear manufacturing firm. (Obermeyer bio)
**Willie Schaeffler arrives in this country from Bavaria and goes to work at Arapahoe Basin teaching the Austrian technique. Eventually he becomes Director of the Ski School and also coach of the Denver University Ski Team. In 1972, Schaeffler serves as head coach of the U.S. Olympic Ski Team. (1980 Interview with Schaeffler by Robert Riger included in his book, The Athlete)
**Billy Mahoney and other skiers in Telluride purchase an old car engine and build a rope tow up the slopes of the Ball Park ski area. In 1953 the tow is moved to the Grizzly Gulch area. Mahoney will go on to play a decisive role in the development and operation of the present Telluride Ski complex. (Mahoney oral history)
The 1948 Olympic Winter Games are held at St. Moritz. **Gordy Wren from Steamboat Springs places 5th in special jumping. **Steve Knowlton, **Barney McLean, and Dev Jennings are other members of the U.S. Olympic team from Colorado. Gretchen Fraser takes the gold in slalom.
Winter Park gets flushing toilets and new emergency phone service. Welcome to the 20th century! (Rocky Mountain News, Dec. 18, 1949)
Colorado's first avalanche training session takes place in 1949 with Andre Roch instructing. ** Ed Taylor, **Slim Davis, **Larry Jump, and **Hans Bookstrom are present. (Colorado Ski Museum newsletter article, Vol 2, Issue 2, 1985, by Paul Hauk)
Many of the Tenth Mountain Divison veterans have returned to Colorado where they are making an impact on the state’s ski industry. The Denver Post of January 9, 1949 reports: "Much of the new skiing enthusiasm in Colorado is a direct result of the U.S. Army's Tenth Mountain Division which trained at Camp Hale near Leadville. Ex-tenth mountaineers are bobbing up all over the continental divide. Some are aiding the noble efforts of the National Ski Patrol. Some are instructing. Others have installed ski tows and opened new areas.
**Sven Wiik immigrates to this country from Sweden and serves as ski coach at Western State College in Gunnison for 19 years. Wiik gains a national reputation and coaches the U.S. Team at the World Championships in Finland in 1958 and the Olympic Games at Squaw Valley in 1960. (The History of the Ski Teams of Western State College, in Two Parts, by Robert Kenneth Burns, Jr. and Joe Poisson)
** denotes member of the Colorado Ski Hall of Fame
(Compiled by Patricia Pfeiffer, Chair, Colorado Ski Museum History Committee)