Sun Valley Ski Club "was organized in the fall of 1936 with about one hundred members and during the winter increased to about one hundred fifty.” So states the first sentence of the first article in the Club’s inaugural annual magazine. Originally christened the Sun Valley Club, the name was changed on November 8, 1937 to the Sun Valley Ski Club.
The Sun Valley Ski Club it has remained as we approach our 75th Anniversary season in 2011. The Club has expanded and contracted some over time but throughout it all it has remained a vibrant, viable, healthy organization being ever true to the opening paragraph in its Constitution, which reads:
“To encourage proficiency and enjoyment of skiing and other winter sports with their attendant relaxations; to promote good fellowship; to encourage the construction and maintenance of ski tows, ski lifts and all such labor saving devices; to appreciate comfortable accommodations, good food and drink and by all other means to take advantage of the beauty of the mountains in winter and any other time.”
As the Sun Valley Resort arose on the property of the former Brass Ranch, the founder, Mr. Averill Harriman formed the Sun Valley Ski Club as a means to help market the resort and increase traffic on his Union Pacific Railroad. A review of the first year’s membership roster reveals the marketing to the east coast and the Hollywood crowd in California was very successful.
On February 6, 1937 we were admitted to membership in the Pacific Northwest Ski Association. Upon receipt of that recognition Chairman Harriman and the Board of Governors proceeded to plan an open downhill and slalom tournament t be held at Sun Valley and to be called the “SUN VALLEY INTERNATIONAL OPEN Downhill Slalom and Combined.”
As the date of the SUN VALLEY INTERNATIONAL OPEN approached, a stroke of good luck arrived in the form of a telegram to the Chairman from the Dartmouth Outing Club asking if Sun Valley “could include in our races the UNITED STATES NATIONAL AMATEUR CHAMPIONSHIP, Downhill Slalom and Combined.” This request was brought about by the unfortunate snow conditions in the east at that time. The races, managed by the Club, were a huge success. Racers from all over the country and Europe competed in that inaugural event. Indeed the Club’s first Annual Magazine is largely devoted to descriptions of the racing event, including a very complementary article written by Governor Alex Bright of Boston. Needless to say, with that excellent first year publicity the reputation of the Sun Valley Resort and the Sun Valley Ski Club were well established.
Mr. W. A. Harriman and his associates sure knew how to nail a mission statement that would withstand the test of time. Further they demonstrated they knew how to successfully carry out that mission. To them and to those who followed to keep our Club together we are eternally grateful. Not many Ski Clubs can boast of a 74 year survival.
The Sun Valley Ski Club and the Sun Valley Resort have continued positive growth over the years. Under the excellent, caring stewardship of Messrs. Harriman, Janss and Holding, the resort, which is the first destination ski resort in the United States, is today one of the finest year round Mountain resorts in the country. Indeed, to many of us, the Sun Valley Resort is the finest. Our ski club is privileged to be a part of this beautiful and historically significant setting.