CURATOR’S NOTE- The following was found on-line thanks to the The Governor Francis Parnell Murphy Museum and Historical Archive. The 1935 footage of jumpers skiing on pine needles in Newport NH was too precious to ignore. The video below tells all (and note there is a brief segment of snow skiing before they get to the Newport footage).
Ski jumping on pine needles in 1935. Someone in Newport NH had a brilliant idea. As you’ll see.
NH LOST SKI HISTORY: PINE NEEDLES?
In August 1935 Newport hosted a Pine Needle Skiing Event…so outrageous it brought film crews and press from everywhere!
At the height of the ski craze, the New Hampshire skiers itched all summer long awaiting the first good powder. The solution played itself out in 1935, and one of the most bizarre chapters in New Hampshire ski history. As dawn broke on Sunday, August 25th, 1935, news film crews, reporters and a crowd of almost 200 people waited expectantly at Wilmarth Park. Ski legend and Newport local John W. McCrillis watched as the members of ski clubs from Montreal to Connecticut piled in for the meet. They were there to ski…in summer on pine needles?! A concept born in this country in Newport.
By the time the meet got under way close to a thousand people had filled the park to take part or watch in wonder as the 40 skiers competed in men’s and women’s downhill and ski jumping.. The concept was simple…a good coating of paraffin wax on your best skis and a thick pile of pine needles and the surface would be as slick as Mount Sunapee in February.
McCrillis, along with Richard “Dick” Durrance (a ski legend himself), Richard Kelley of Newport and U.S. cross country champ Oilli Hegge of Norfolk, Connecticut were judges. The downhill race over 100 yards of pine needles through the woods was won by William Hinton of Putney, VT. The winner of the woman’s downhill? His sister Jean.
When it came to the ski jump however…as you’ll see in the footage it wasn’t for the faint of heart. Only a dozen skiers were crazy enough to attempt it…although judge Dick Durrance had mastered the sport already. Only 4 of the dozen managed to jump twice without falling. John Holden of Putney, Vermont was the winner jumping 28 and then 30 feet!
The event had been held privately for members only for two years previous…but the word was out and people wanted to see what Newport was up to.
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