Far West Fights for New Ski Areas
In 1947, only a handful of skiers showed up at the first hearing proposing San Gorgonio as a ski area. It was evident that a national voice was needed. The West faces different problems from the rest of the nation in that most of their ski areas are on public lands and hence dictated to by the Forest Service and the public.
In 1964, the San Gorgonio Fund was established by Southern Council to get “San G” developed as a ski area. Although the fight continued for many years, the Wilderness Act of 1964 put an end to the hopes of ever developing San Gorgonio.
In 1965, the Forest Service issued a second prospectus for developing Mineral King Game Refuge as a ski area and accepted the Disney bid. The Sierra Club sued and in 1969, the San Francisco District Court issued a preliminary injunction.
Save Our Skiing Fund was created by Jerry Garrett, Single Ski Club, in November 5, 1969 in the battle over Mineral King. Far West served as amicus curiae all the way to the Supreme Court only to have Congress move the area into the Sequoia National Park, thus preventing further development.
Far West convened a Public Lands Advisory Board [PLAB] to search of suitable ski sites in California. Among the 20-plus sites identified by Royall Brown were Moses-Maggie, Trail Peak, Independence Lake, Sherwin Bowl, and Peppermint Mountain.
The Skisport Defense Fund was incorporated January 8, 1974 to raise funds to support the advocacy of these areas, notably led by Chuck Morse. It is highly unlikely that these areas will ever be developed.
Far West Programs
Throughout the 60s and 70s, Far West continued to develop programs for the recreational skier that included a Membership Benefit Book, Ski Theft Insurance, Ski Weeks, Flight Charters to Europe and within the US, Public Affairs and Intramural Racing. In return, the clubs sponsored events that raised money for junior racers and US Olympians.
By the mid 70s, Far West expanded to the point where recreational skiers far outnumbered competitive skiers. This was a dramatic contrast to USSA and the other ski associations, where competitive skiing continued to dominate. A conflict began to develop between USSA and Far West because only 20% of members club elected to affiliate with Far West, and hence USSA. While clubs were the lifeline of Far West and provided the volunteers needed to run the Far West programs and raise money for the US Ski Team, the discord continued.
Far West Ski Competition
It wasn’t until 1976 that Far West was finally divided into two separate operating organizations, one concentrating on the recreational and political aspects of skiing and the other directing the operation of the sanctioned race programs that developed the youth of America for the US Ski Teams. Far West Ski Competition, the official sanctioning body for junior racers, was founded.
Today, Far West Skiing, a division of USSA, is the body that develops young athletes from all clubs in the Far West with the objective of placing elite competitors onto the US Ski Team. [fwskiing.org]