Aspen Historical Society celebrates local ski racing history |

Aspen Historical Society celebrates local ski racing history

One color Kodacolor print of the 1950 FIS World Championship Welcome banner in Aspen, 1950.
Aspen Historical Society / Courtesy photo

After a six-year hiatus and with much fan-fare, international ski racing returned to Aspen Mountain with the 2023 FIS World Cup earlier this month.

In honor of the event and to highlight the historical importance of alpine to the Aspen community, the Aspen Historical Society is hosting an event focusing on Aspen’s fast-moving and innovative ski racing history, beginning with the 1950 FIS World Alpine Championships.

One b/w photograph of Stein Eriksen competing in the 1950 FIS World Championship. According to the back of the photo, he won the first run of the slalom but fell in the second run and two years later won two gold metals in the Olympics in Norway.
Aspen Historical Society, Durrance Collection / Courtesy photo

By 1968, Aspen became a regular stop for World Cup races and was hosting them annually from 1998 to 2017. The following year the FIS moved the races to Killington, Vermont, citing issues with aging infrastructure specifically citing the state of Lift 1A.

But with recent changes in leadership in FIS and U.S .Ski & Snowboard, attitudes also changed, bringing the event back to Aspen once more.

“Ski racing in Aspen was identified as an economic driver and promotional opportunity for the re-development of Aspen as early as 1936,” said Nina Gabianelli, vice president of programming and education. “Many races were held here from 1937-1950, including the U.S. National Championships in 1941, the introduction of the Roch Cup in 1946, and the first Bingham Cup race in 1949. Aspen hosted the 1950 FIS World Championships, the first time the event was ever held outside of Europe, thanks to Dick Durrance. Giant slalom was introduced as a new event at these races.”

The event Tuesday, March 28, will be a primer on the history of ski racing in Aspen that includes photos, film, and panelists, including athletes Wiley Maple, Tamara McKinney, Jim Hancock, chief of race for the past 25 years, and Johnno McBride, Alpine Program director for AVSC.

To add to the fun, attendees are highly encouraged to don their favorite old-school ski gear or 1950s costumes harking back to that first race.

“Get out your favorite ‘old timey’ ski wear. Aspen loves to dress up,” said Gabianelli.

One b/w photograph of Andrea Mead Lawrence, racing in the 1950 FIS. She is turning around a pole, and several blurry people can be seen in the background.
Aspen Historical Society, Durrance Collection / Courtesy photo

Aspen Historical Society is celebrating its 60th anniversary of preserving the valley’s treasures and stories. Especially important during this time of rapid change.

There will be several anniversary year celebratory events this year, including a free 60th Birthday Bash on July 10 at the Wheeler/Stallard Museum where guests can don their favorite ’60s attire for snacks and refreshments, free museum admission, and more.

“History informs our daily lives in so many ways, and we aim to inspire curiosity about the people and events that paved the path to where we are today,” said marketing director, Eliza Greenman Burlingame. “Because history never stops, neither do we. As AHS moves into its 61st year and beyond, we’re focused on the work ahead. We’re getting started on several exciting projects, including exhibition conceptual design planning for the museum at Lift One, a new snow sports history museum that will be part of the reinvigorated historical base area of Aspen Mountain.”

If you go…

What: Time Travel Tuesdays | Racing through History: FIS in Aspen
When: Tuesday, March 28, 5:30 p.m.
Where: Wheeler Opera House, 320 E. Hyman Ave.
Ticket required: $15. Purchase online at or call the Wheeler Box Office at 970.920.5770 (Lixiviator members can secure their free tickets by calling 970.920.5770)

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