The U.S. boasted 19 chairlifts and as many as 300 ropetow-equipped hills early in the decade. Yet there were still as many jumping hills as downhill ski areas. For the duration of the war years, new ski-area construction came to a standstill. The Sun Valley Lodge served as a convalescent hospital for sailors. The Northland company made thousands of white wooden skis for the famed 10th Mountain Division troops, who after the war would become the pioneers of the ski industry, as the U.S. Forest Service encouraged entrepreneurs to build ski areas in the national forests.
Sun Valley’s Gretchen Fraser shocked the world in 1948 by winning America’s first Olympic gold medal in skiing, auguring a rich future for U.S. women skiers.
The great world champion Emile Allais arrived in North America, bringing with him his French technique to vie with the Austrian Arlberg method dominating U.S. ski schools. Allais migrated to California’s Squaw Valley, opened in 1949 by Alex Cushing. Aspen Mountain opened in 1946 with the world’s longest chairlift, a single-seater. The beginning of the end was at hand for solitary riding uphill, though, as the first double chairlift debuted in Washington that same year.
John Jay filled theaters and school gyms with skiers captivated by the spectacular scenery, exotic locales and wry humor of his traveling ski-movie lecture—a popular new art form. In 1948 in Hanover, N.H., Bill Eldred relaunched SKI Magazine by combining Ski Illustrated (SKI’s name had been changed to Ski Illustrated after its first issue) with Western Skiing and Ski News, and publishing it under its original, more straightforward title. —J.F.