Late last week the Times Review got a first look at the Revelstoke Museum & Archives’ newest publication First Tracks: The History of Skiing In Revelstoke.
We’ve barely had a chance to read through the 208-page book, let alone follow up with its volunteer committee, but can offer an early first look. We hope to follow up with a more extensive review next week.
Starting with the early pioneers of the late 1800s, First Tracks takes a chronological journey through the history of skiing by dividing the sport into its disciplines.
After the early history, the book jumps into the ski jumping era, which was arguably the most popular form of the sport in Revelstoke for the first 50 years
Subsequent chapters explore the history of alpine skiing, the evolution of plain-old skiing into the cross country and backcountry genres, as well as the roots of heli-skiing, ski touring, lodge operations, alpine skiing and cat skiing.
The early pioneers such as Bob Lymburne, Nels Nelsen, Isabel Coursier are well represented. But the lesser-known pioneers of more recent history also take their place in history of the development of skiing in the region, including ski hill pioneers like Paul Mair and Don Sinclair, and modern era ski racers like Larry Nelles and Kendra Kobelka, to name just a few. The chapters follow right through to the present, exploring recent developments at Mount Macpherson, and the saga that led to the creation of Revelstoke Mountain Resort.
Mount Mackenzie and Mount Macpherson now host the main alpine and Nordic facilities, but for much of Revelstoke’s history Mount Revelstoke was the focus of skiing in town. This included the Nels Nelsen and the Bigh Hill ski jumps at its base and alpine runs like Haner’s Hill and The Hickory Run.
The history of these developments spanning the past century have been organized in an orderly fashion. Likewise, the development of lodges on the mountain, and the reasons why skiing shifted elsewhere are laid out.
First Tracks follows on a people-first narrative, focusing on the personalities that drove skiing, including leading competitors and the organizers behind clubs, tournaments and businesses.
The book’s strengths are balanced between an organized approach to the subject and great photo editing with an eye that balances historical value with visual impact. The writing is clear and accessible.
First Tracks is a great introduction for newcomers to Revelstoke’s ski history, but also has lots of new information for history buffs.
You get a great sense of how much things have stayed the same while everything changes – like an excerpt from the Feb. 3, 1921, issue of the Revelstoke Review, noting folks were struggling with unleashed dogs on the jump in the park. “Don’t bring your dog – it will be shot if found on the course,” they wrote.
First Tracks: The History of Skiing in Revelstoke is available at the Revelstoke Museum & Archives for $45.