20-04-03 dick durrance and averell harriman.jpg

Famed ski racer Dick Durrance (left) claims the Harriman Cup from Averell Harriman (right) in 1940, 80 years ago.

Sun Valley Resort founder W. Averell Harriman and Washington State-based ski industry builder Graham Anderson are two of eight new inductees of the Sun Valley Winter Sports Hall of Fame.

Others in Class of 2019 are Dick Dorworth, Jim Savaria, Bob Jonas, Doran Key, Herman Maricich and Sonya Dunfield. The Hall of Fame induction ceremony will be held in the near future.

W. AVERELL HARRIMAN

W. Averell Harriman, who died in 1986 at age 94, was a 1913 Yale University graduate active in business, politics and diplomacy throughout his life.

He founded the Sun Valley Resort in 1936. He was inducted into the U.S. Ski Hall of Fame in 1969.

Here are excerpts from Harriman’s Ski Hall biography:

“Looking for a way to increase passenger loads for his Union Pacific Railway to the West, W. Averell Harriman came up with the idea of a first-class winter resort. From this idea, Sun Valley was born. It was a major achievement opening an era of major U.S. West resort development.

“In 1936 Harriman, chairman of the board of the Union Pacific Railroad, built the first streamlined U.S. passenger trains. Looking to attract passenger traffic to his railroad business, he decided to build a ski resort. Harriman sent an Austrian alpine expert, Count Felix Schaffgotsch, west to locate the spot for his resort.

“A six-week odyssey took Schaffgotsch to Mt. Rainer, Mt. Hood, Yosemite, Colorado, Utah and the snow fields of Lake Tahoe in Nevada and California.

“He crossed the Teton Pass in winter for a view of Jackson Hole. He then came to Ketchum, Idaho. Ketchum had been a boom town in the mining days of the 1880s. In 1936, with many residents hit hard by the depression, the population declined to 170.

“Schaffgotsch wrote to Harriman about the Ketchum area, ‘It contains more delightful features than any other place I have seen in the United States, Switzerland or Austria for a winter sports center.’

“Harriman arrived 10 days later to site-see in his private railroad car. He approved the Count’s choice. Union Pacific purchased 43,000 acres and on this vast, snow-covered area, like a blank piece of paper, the architects set out to write the name, Sun Valley, into ski history. Almost $3 million dollars was spent, an incredible amount of money at the time.

“But Harriman……had enough confidence in the future of skiing to build the world’s first resort designed primarily for winter sports.

“Fortunately, the founders (notably Jim Curran, elected to the U.S. National Ski Hall of Fame in 2001) could call on the brains of the Union Pacific engineers. The engineers had no previous experience with skiing but when asked to furnish some kind of uphill transportation, they designed the world’s first chairlifts.

“Harriman approved and along with the new resort, contributed immensely to the development of skiing with the new technology.

“He founded the Harriman Cup Ski Tourney which was to gain the highest international reputation of any race in the country. He gave unqualified backing to competitive collegiate skiing by holding a four-way intercollegiate tourney at Sun Valley every Christmas.

“The Harriman Cup for downhill racing at Sun Valley was a most sought-after trophy by the world’s best skiers. Harriman presented the Harriman Cup to Dick Durrance in 1937 and 1940. The Dartmouth skier and Olympian retired it after winning it three times.”

Harriman became President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Special Envoy to Europe in 1941 during the onset of World War II and served as U.S. Ambassador to the Soviet Union from 1943-46.

He was 48th Governor of New York from 1955-58. He served under U.S. Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson as Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs from 1961-65.

GRAHAM ANDERSON

Born in 1933, Graham Anderson was inducted into the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame in 1984 and the Washington State Ski and Snowboard Museum in 1990.

Retired to Sun Valley after leading a successful insurance brokerage business in Seattle, Wash., Anderson has been an active and significant contributor to the ski industry for over 70 years. He is the managing partner of Eldora Resort in Colorado.

Anderson’s interest in skiing started as a junior competitor in the Pacific Northwest Ski Association (PNSA) and all the way through high school as an All-State ski racer. He was an award-winning member of the University of Washington ski team.

He served in many PNSA capacities including Director of Competition and President.

Besides coaching skiers, Anderson was elected to many U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association (USSA) committees and served as an alpine official and technical delegate at the highest levels of skiing.

Anderson’s energy and technical knowledge have been used widely by the International Ski Federation (FIS) and he has also been actively involved in U.S. Ski Team fundraising.

His honors include the USSA Blegen Award and PNSA Ken Comfort Award.

The Community Library’s Jeanne Rodger Lane Center for Regional History has taken over and renamed the former Sun Valley Ski Hall of Fame produced since its origin in 2010 by the Ketchum Sun Valley Ski and Heritage Society.

Seeking to include all winter sports, the Center for Regional History decided to include contributors from a variety of winter sports, and so the inaugural Class of 2019 includes figure skaters as well as skiers, builders and other notables.

The public will be invited when the Sun Valley Winter Sports Hall of Fame holds its induction ceremony at the Community Library.

“The accomplishments of this year’s inductees take your breath away,” said Mary Tyson, Director of Regional History at the Ketchum-based library. “We look forward to celebrating these remarkable individuals with the community.”

For this year’s induction class, there were 13 nominees submitted through the public notification. Eight were chosen, and the five names of those not selected this year will be added to next year’s nomination list for the shrine.

Committee members are comprised of the Library Board Regional History Committee.

Email the writer: sports@mtexpress.com

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