Thursday, April 14, 2016

The Early History of California Ski Racing

The president and owner of Viking Real Estate Group, Tom Velken leads a Lafayette, California, company that offers full-service property investment and finance services. An avid skier, Tom Velken particularly enjoys family vacations at resorts such as Kirkwood and Heavenly Valley in the Lake Tahoe area.

Ski racing in the Sierra Nevadas dates back to the early 1850s and the Gold Rush. La Porte, California, was an epicenter of miners waiting out harsh winters. The first ever organized ski competition took place in La Porte in 1867 and was led by Charles Nelson, who was experienced in what was then known as a Norwegian sport. He created shaped wooden boards 12 feet long that became popular among the local miners, who subsequently invented ski wax. The 1867 Alturas Ski Races attracted several hundred spectators and had a purse of $600.

An 1869 Sacramento Union article detailed the exploits of early skiing legend Snowshoe Thompson, who created a slalom-like track with stakes set up every 100 feet that he had to pass through. The next major evolution of skiing in California occurred in 1928, with the establishment of the first jump hill at Lake Tahoe’s Tahoe Tavern. The skiing industry as we know it was born. In addition to the Sierra Nevada mountains, Tomas Velken enjoys skiing in Colorado and Utah.