Yesterday I spent a fascinating afternoon at Hebron Academy (Hebron, Maine) examining old skiing photos and documents.
My host was Dave Stonebraker, formerly the coach of Hebron’s ski team. Nowadays he works part-time in the school’s Bell-Lipman Archives. (Except where noted, all photos in this post are from the online collection of the archives.)
In the photo above, Dave Stonebraker and Scott Andrews examine old Hebron Academy yearbooks, looking for information on ski teams in the 1930s through 1950s. On the right are a collection of Hebron Academy skiing trophies. (Photo by Geoff Campbell of Hebron Academy’s communications office)
(The ski coach honor now belongs to Dave’s wife, Leslie “Mitzi” Guenther, who also teaches mathematics.)
One focus of our efforts was the winter carnivals and ski teams prior to World War II. Among our discoveries was that in the late 1930s, Hebron was one of the first schools in Maine to drop ice skating and snowshoeing from their winter sports competitions. In effect, today’s concept of ski teams was first made explicit at that time.
Above is pictured the Hebron ski team from 1939. No snowshoes or ice skates in the photo!
The 1939 yearbook noted that Hebron had adopted the “new F.I.S. system,” and that the events were slalom, downhill, cross-country and jumping. Those are the events that defined the “four-event skier” for almost 50 years, until jumping disappeared from interscholastic competition in the 1980s.
Below are a couple of action photos of Hebron skiers in the late 1930s.
Ski jumping was a cornerstone of competition on skis since the 1800s in Europe and the U.S. The sport reached a low point in the U.S. in the 1980s and 1990s, but has enjoyed a modest revival in recent years. Unfortunately nordic ski jumping is dead in Maine.
Slalom skiing originated in Norway in the late 1800s, but gradually went into disfavor in the Holmenkollen national competitions in the early 1900s. When slalom was revived by the British and the Alpine countries in the 1920s and 1930s, it ushered in the modern era of competition on skis.
Dave and I also discovered some wonderful contruction photos of two ski areas that Hebron once owned. But that’s another story for another day.