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Cultivating Talented Young Red Mountain Skiers 1948-1960s

Following the amalgamation of the ski clubs, the racing program started to grow to new heights. Until 1947, coaching and resources for racing were ad hoc and spread across the ski clubs. In 1948, this changed. Ches Edwards became the primary coach for the young skiers, and resources were consolidated. The Red Mountain Ski Club (RMSC) and Ches worked tirelessly to provide local skiers with more opportunities to compete at high levels and develop into top-notch skiers.

Six male skiers watching a seventh skier come down a ski run.

Unknown Ski Race on Red Mountain, circa 1940-1951

The performance by the local boys in the various [intercollegiate] events shows clearly the development in skiing ability which has occurred during the past year or so around Red Mountain. Those lads really showed promise and with a few more tournaments under their belts should develop into top notch racers.

– Rossland Miner, January 13, 1949


International Intercollegiate Invitational Ski Tournament (“Triple I”)

Six men on skis posing for a photograph on a snowy mountain.

Left to right: David Jones, Bill Ling, Guy Christie, Al Fisher, John Platt.  Bottom row: Andy Poochoff

A major opportunity for young male racers was the International Intercollegiate Invitational Ski Tournament, also known as the “Triple I.” This tournament brought together the best collegiate skiers to compete in slalom, downhill, cross-country, and jumping. The participating schools included the University of British Columbia, Washington State College, the University of Washington, the University of Idaho, and the University of Montana. Banff, Alberta had previously held the tournament in 1947, but Ches Edwards saw an opportunity for his skiers. He persuaded the schools to hold the 1948 tournament in Rossland. He also convinced the organizers to allow Red Mountain to enter a non-competitive team in all four events the following year. In doing so, young Rossland skiers got the chance to compete against the best and improve their technique.

Colour photograph of a crowd of spectators at the bottom of a ski run.

Spectators at the “Triple I” Ski Jumping Competition in Rossland, BC, January 1958

The Red Mountain team quickly dominated the B-class ski competition. Local skier Allan Fisher placed first in the individual four-way combined B competition, finishing nearly 19 points ahead of the second-place winner. Additionally, George Merry (downhill), Jim Douglas (slalom), Bud Scorgie (jumping), and Allan Fisher (cross-country) were all top scorers for the individual B races. This tournament acted as a showcase for the Red Mountain skiers, leading to numerous locals receiving athletic scholarships. The first few scholarship recipients were Allan Fisher, Gordon McKenzie, Henry “Harry” Mann, and George Merry. They all attended Washington State College.

While the male skiers found success through “Triple I” ski meets, their female counterparts were not afforded the same opportunities. They sometimes did exhibition runs before the competition and helped with race logistics, but they were not allowed to compete. As a result, they were not considered for scholarships like the boys and received minimal opportunities to continue skiing after high school.

Young woman wearing a plaque as a medal around her neck with her hands crossed underneath standing in front of a car.

Alice Gordon After Winning the Sportsman Award in Sun Valley, 1950

I did love skiing and racing, but at the time I was racing, coaches and universities were only interested in male skiers. Many of the local boys had managed to get scholarships to the colleges but no one offered scholarships to young girls skiing at that time. I did hope for one – education meant a great deal to me – but it was not forthcoming and I was not able to search for one.

– Alice Chiko (née Gordon)

The West Kootenay Inter-High School Ski Meet (“Inter‑High”)

Colourful, illustrated cover of ski meet programme from 1956.

Programme for the 9th Annual West Kootenay Inter-High School Ski Meet

The West Kootenay Inter-High School Ski Meet was also a noteworthy competition for young Red Mountain skiers. It was first hosted in 1948. Similar to the “Triple I” tournament, this competition brought together skiers from western North America to compete against each other. The difference was that the Inter-High was geared towards juniors on high school teams. The boys competed in the 4-way competition (downhill, slalom, cross-country, and jumping), while the girls competed in a 2-way competition (downhill and slalom).


Black and white photo of two skiers watching a young male skier going through a slalom gate.

John Platt Competing in the 1954 Inter High School Ski Meet

Rossland Students’ Council primarily organized this tournament, but Ches Edwards and a teacher representative assisted the students. The students also received a lot of help from other RMSC members and teachers for logistical elements, such as billeting, flag judges, first aid, course starters, etc. As a result, the Rossland Students’ Council successfully hosted 40 competitors from Trail and Rossland as well as Spokane and Chewelah, USA, in February 1948. The number of schools and competitors attending the race increased over time. During these competitions, Rossland and Trail skiers competed on behalf of their respective schools. Ches Edwards coached all racers from both schools. Unsurprisingly, Rossland and Trail dominated the competitions. In the 1948 Inter-High, June McKenzie and Allan Fisher captured all combined and individual events, except for the boys’ slalom. Additionally, Rossland and Trail placed first and second in the team events.

Six young men holding trophies. There are also four more trophies on the ground in front of the group.

Boy’s Team 1955-56 High School Ski Meet

Six young women holding trophies. There are also three more trophies on the ground in front of the group.

Girl’s Team 1955-56 High School Ski Meet


Hear about the different ways that a culture of skiing was cultivated in Rossland and encouraged talented young skiers (captions available in both EN and FR). View this video with a transcript (EN).

Note: Ruth Grubisic is talking about the “Triple I” ski races and Ginger Baines is talking about the Inter-High ski races.