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skiing

The following essays have been researched and written by Ronald A. Shearer, Professor Emeritus (Economics), The University of British Columbia.

Yes, there was skiing in Rossland before we built the chair lift.

The Chinese and Chinatown of Rossland – Fragments From Their Early History

Mid-Winter Mardi Gras: Rossland’s Original Winter Carnival

Olaus Jeldness, Pioneer Mining Man and Father of Skiing

 

 

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Skiing was first introduced to the people of Rossland by Scandinavians who came to the area to work in the mines. The most famous of them was Olaus Jeldness, a mining engineer, who came to Rossland in 1896.

Skiing was mainly jumping and what was called ski running, but there was also a form of cross country and skijoring. The first timed downhill race was held in 1897 and was won by Jeldness.

The first Canadian downhill ski championships were held in Rossland in 1898. The winner of the downhill event was presented with the Jeldness Cup (won by Jeldness himself three years in a row).

Our Ski Wing exhibit showcases four Rossland locals: Nancy Greene Raine (Olympic Gold Medalist and World Cup Champion), Kerrin-Lee Gartner (Olympic Gold Medalist), Kimberly Joines (IPC world champion, IPC World Cup winner and two-time Paralympic bronze medallist) and Olaus Jeldness (First Dominion Champion in 1900).

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During Rossland’s long cold winter nothing was more exhilarating as Winter Carnival. The first carnival was held in 1898 and was a week-long celebration. Winter Carnival opened with a skating masquerade party followed by hockey matches, curling, skating competitions, ski running, ski jumping, snowshoeing, and tobogganing down the “Zip”.

A snowshoe torchlight parade wound its way up Monte Cristo’s side to light a beacon fire at the top. Fans from around the Kootenays came to town in special trains flying the colours of their hockey teams, singing their songs and practicing their cheers to rouse the rafters of the skating rink.

Winter Carnival of 1917 was the last for decades following the killer flu epidemic of 1918. In 1947, with Rossland celebrating its 50th Anniversary there was a revival of the winter carnival. It was called the “Sno Sho” with emphasis on hockey and curling.

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In 1929 the Trail-Rossland Ski Club was formed. Just 3 years later, in 1933, a group of Rossland skiers formed their own ski club known as the Rossland Ski Club (RSC). In 1934 the RSC built a jump on Monte Cristo, north of the reservoir, and a cabin was also built. In addition, the Trail Ski Club (TSC) installed a gas-driven rope tow on the present lift line on Red Mountain, approximately towers 2 to 5.

Skiers from both clubs used the cabins as a base for touring up to the higher peaks and ridges. For even easier access cabins were built in Squaw Basin, the first of which was the Klister Club Cabin which is still in use today. The Yodel Inn was built in 1945.

Talks between the TSC and the RSC resulted in the amalgamation of the two clubs in 1947, forming the Red Mountain Ski Club. The organization combined their resources to build a chair lift to the top of Red Mountain. The first ride up Red Mountain on the chairlift was December 16, 1947.