Past Winner of the FWSA History Award
By John Watson, 2001, Chairman, FWSA Committee
Billy Kidd, Olympic medallist and Hall of Famer, presented the 2001 Steamboat Spring/steamboat grand Western Ski Heritage award to Chris Miller at the FWSA Annual Meeting in Reno. Chris a member of Cascade Ski Club for over ten years has served on its Board of Directors in several positions. Chris has worked as a ski instructor and ski host at Timberline Lodge on Mount Hood. He enjoy alpine and cross-country skiing, and has combined the two by participating as an avid Telemark skier. Currently he is Webmaster for NWSCC, and has assisted with initiating a FWSA website competition.
Chris has put literally hundreds of hours documenting the history of the Cascade Ski Club, project which evolved into documentation, preservation, and display of Oregon’s early ski history. He has organized and reproduced many sets of records – en enormous and painstaking archiving effort-and discovered hitherto unknown document and even film footage of early ski jumping in Oregon. His work is on display and will be viewed by visitor of Cascade Lodge, and in the Mount Hood Museum when it opens.
As an example of Chris’s “just in the nick of time” preservation efforts, he organized and prepared the Howard Henson and Hjalmar Hvam documents at the Oregon History Center (OHC). Both photo albums and scrapbooks were originally displayed in books that were non-archive quality and were literally destroying the materials. It was estimated that many photos were have been destroyed within ten years. Much of the material was misidentified and misfiled. Not until this project was the OHC fully aware that these objects were the sole, primary source documents concerning the beginning of skiing in Oregon, and the inventor of the first releasable binding.
Chris found unpublished relevant material about Timberline Lodge, America’s first government built alpine ski lodge, including opening ceremony papers, press material, unpublished photographs, and personal accounts. He documented an unknown ski jumping film of Cascade Jump Hill on Mt. Hood. Previously, the historical society did not know the location of the events depicted in their film archive. Chris was able to confirm the location, events, and competitors. This is the only known film of any ski jumping event on Mt. Hood.
Cascade Ski Club supported founder Hjalmar P. Hvam as one of the country’s top ski competitors in the 1930’s and inventor of the first releasable ski safety binding. Hvam is enshrined in Oregon sports Hall of Fame, the U.S. Ski Hall of Fame, the Northwest Ski Hall of Fame, and the U.S. Ski Business Hall of Fame. Mr. Hvam began building his fame as a ski competitor in 1932, when he won the first U.S. Nordic combined championship competition at Lake Tahoe, California; he took first in jumping and cross-country regain to win the combined title. This event was awarded to the embryonic California Ski Association, partly as recognition its efforts to win the 1932 Winter Olympics.
Hvam is almost the forgotten man of skiing history. Future history projects will go beyond preserving his artifacts to publicizing his great contribution to skiing throughout America. Where would skiing be today without Hvam’s revolutionary releasable ski binding?