During the next 10 days the most promising crop of American skiers in history will slam down the slopes of Franconia and North Conway, N.H. and Stowe, Vt. They will be competing for national and international skiing titles—but more importantly they will be battling for the 14 berths on the 1956 Olympic alpine team.
How good is the crop?
Pictured on the following pages is a representative gallery, including former Dartmouth Ace Ralph Miller of the U.S. Army, a veteran of world championship competition, and National Junior Slalom Champion Bob Kinmont. Also poised and ready to go are Buddy Werner (see cover), 1952 National Junior Champion and member of the 1954 U.S. world team, and a host of other skilled veterans, including Buddy's sister Skeeter, Bill Beck, Brooks Dodge, Max Marolt, Tommy Corcoran and Katy Rodolph.
Competing against this array of old hands are such talented youngsters as Betsy Snite and Marvin Moriarity, Dennis Osborne, Nancy Banks, Bill Woods, Renier Cox, Marvin Melville, Dave Gorsuch, Mel Hoagland, Leona Reny, Jerry Ann Devlin, Ann Roberts and Cathy Carey.
A special center of attraction will be Andrea Mead Lawrence who won two gold medals in the 1952 Olympics. Andy skied just nine times in the 1953-54 season. But she has come back fast this season, winning the Snow Cup Giant Slalom at Alta, Utah (see page 27) and the Women's Eastern Slalom at Big Bromley, Vt.
George Macomber, Eastern Ski Association president and U.S. Olympic adviser, is certain that the Olympic outlook for alpine events is the brightest yet. He believes the national training schools, such as the one held recently at Sun Valley, and the regional training camps, such as have been held in the Northeast for five years, have played a big part in the development. He also gives much credit to booming interest in interscholastic and intercollegiate skiing. The second annual NCAA Skiing Championship meet was held at Norwich University, Northfield, Vt. last weekend. It drew 14 top college teams, and was won by Denver with Dartmouth second, Middlebury third.
One of the brightest stars in the adjoining color gallery is Chiharu (Chick) Igaya, a diminutive and thoroughly engaging Japanese at Dartmouth, who took both the NCAA downhill and slalom titles at Norwich. He will be one of the attractions at the coming Franconia and Stowe meets. He is not a U.S. Olympic prospect: he will compete for Japan, as he did in 1952.
Andy and husband Dave Lawrence and the sister brother team of Skeeter and Buddy Werner from Steamboat Springs, Colo. are typical of the best that U.S. skiing has produced. All are children of skiers and all started skiing almost as soon as they could walk and talk.
If the U.S. had to depend on environmental factors producing enough Lawrences and Werners to reach the Olympian heights it never could meet on equal terms such countries as Austria and Norway where skiing is a built-in part of the national landscape and temperament.
But the Lawrences and Werners do not think this is necessary. Given the resounding enthusiasm of the U.S. for skiing, the mobility of the American public and the increasing accessibility of developed ski areas, they feel that only one more thing is necessary to put the U.S. on top: tough international competition.
Dennis Osborne, 20, of Crowley Lake, Calif. has taken second place in National Giant Slalom, third in Silver Belt.
Nancy Banks of Everett, Wash. is National women's champion in both Downhill and Combined, will defend both titles.
Bill Woods is one of most promising Olympic youngsters. Only a sophomore in Waterbury, Vt. High School, he won Class B races in New England during season. Rated outstanding Junior racer, he must meet Seniors in Nationals and Olympic tryouts.
Tom Corcoran, 23-year-old Dartmouth graduate, is one of best American skiers. Now a Navy ensign, he has skied since he was five years old, took second in National Combined and Roch Cup last year.
Renie Cox, 16, of Port Leyden, N.Y. finished third in Junior Slalom last year, then placed second against Senior competition in Eastern Combined championships.
Skeeter Werner, though only 21, is an old pro among skiers. Junior Combined champ in '50, '51, she was Olympic alternate in 1952, and on FIS team last year.
Jerry Ann Devlin of Lake Placid, N.Y., a skier for 16 years, made grand slam in 1954 by winning National Women's Giant Slalom, Allais Cup and Women's Open competition in both Class A and Class B.
Dave Gorsuch, 16, of Climax, Col. beat all comers in 1954 Junior Combined, may become one of U.S. Olympic aces in near future.
Mel Hoagland left Iowa State to tour ski circuit after winning 1953 Junior title and 1954 Senior Southern Rocky Mountain Combined.
Chiharu Igaya of Dartmouth won National Slalom in 1953, '54, will compete for his native Japan at 1956 Olympics in Cortina, Italy.
Bob Kinmont won Junior Slalom title in 1954 but passed up this year's Juniors to enter Senior races and tryouts for the Olympics.
Marvin Melville, 20, skis on University of Utah team, won Downhill championship at 1954 American Legion races in Sun Valley.
Leona Reny, 18, lives in heart of New England ski country at North Conway, N.H. Her biggest victory of all came when she won the Women's Eastern Giant Slalom title last year.
Ralph Miller, 21, another former Dartmouth ace, started skiing at two, had peak year in 1953 when he won Downhill and Combined titles in both the North American and National meets.
Andrea Mead Lawrence, 21, is the finest woman skier ever developed in America. An Olympic competitor since 15, Andy won two gold medals in the 1952 Winter Games. Last month, after a year's inactivity, she won the Snow Cup at Alta, Utah, against top opposition (above), and is the favorite to sweep honors in the current Olympic squad trials.