The History of Ski Racing at Waterville Valley Resort

The next generation of ski racers were honing their skills on the slopes surrounding Waterville Valley, New Hampshire years before the resort even opened its lifts to the public. Founded in 1934, the Waterville Valley Black and Blue Trail Smashers (WVBBTS) Ski Club is one of the oldest in the USA. Thirty years later, in the summer of 1964, Tom Corcoran, a former Olympic ski racer was scouting mountains to establish a ski area:

When we flew over Waterville Valley, all the bells went off in my mind. It was exactly what I was looking for. From the air, it was obvious how it should be laid out and I could see its potential for great skiing.

-Tom Corcoran, Waterville Valley Resort Founder

Waterville Valley Resort opened in December of 1966 and has been an advocate for the sport of ski racing from its earliest years. By the next ski season a junior racing program had begun and with the creation of the first amateur ski racing program by Tom Corcoran and John Fry, Waterville Valley hosted the world’s first NASTAR race.

While developing Waterville Valley Resort, Tom Corcoran's passion for skiing remained at the forefront and he continued to do a considerable amount of masters racing, winning many regional races and three out of four events in the U.S. National Masters Championships in 1968. This passion that built a world-class mountain and resort, also shaped the sport itself. In 1969, Waterville Valley Resort became known as the birthplace of freestyle skiing after creating the first freestyle skiing program and hosting the World Cup Finals where the sport was introduced to the world. The next year, Tom Corcoran and Skiing Magazine editor, Doug Pfiffer, organized the First National Championships of Freestyle Skiing at Waterville Valley Resort in 1970. At the age of 21, Legendary Freestyle Skier Wayne Wong travelled from Vancouver on $200 of sponsorship money to the World Cup Freestyle Finals on Waterville Valley’s True Grit. Wong became Waterville Valley’s head freestyle coach in 1973.

In 1971, U.S. Olympic Alpine and Nordic Ski Teams trained in Waterville Valley for the 1972 Winter Olympics in Sapporo, Japan. The valley’s original ski trail on Snow’s Mountain played host to dual giant slalom team races at night. In the same year, WVBBTS ski club quarters were constructed. Today, the Town of Waterville Valley remains home to the Waterville Valley Academy and WVBBTS. It is one of the leading training and competition centers in the United States, a Certified Gold Level Club, the first in the East to be named a Community Olympic Development Program, and in 2017 Waterville Valley Resort was designated a U.S. Ski and Snowboard Team Development Site.

Over the course of its history, Waterville Valley Resort hosted 10 World Cup Races. Decades later Olympians continued to develop on the slopes of Mt. Tecumseh, including Olympic Gold Medalist Hannah Kearney, who trained through the WVBBTS program under head freestyle coach, Nick Preston. The legacy of world-class ski racing continues to this day as the National Freestyle Championships Mogul Event returns to Waterville Valley in March of 2018.

The North Face Park and Pipe Open hosted at Waterville Valley in 2013 ushered in the new age of freestyle skiing which continued into its 50th Anniversary Year with the Toyota Revolution Tour, also returning for the 2018 season. As significant events continue to return to the historic slopes, Waterville Valley Resort is proud to host the World Pro Ski Tour for the first time. From its inception Waterville Valley has been fostering and showcasing skiing, both competitive and recreational, classic and innovative. Now as a new era of skiing dawns, events like the World Pro Ski Tour are primed to return to slopes like those of Waterville Valley Resort, because as Tom Corcoran and every ski racer knows, some things will always endure:

Time stops. In your concentration, you hear nothing. At the bottom, you’re surprised how much strength it takes to stop, and only then do you realize how fast you’ve been traveling. Your heart starts beating once again... ...You’re out of breath as you become filled with exhilaration from the run you’ve just survived.

-Tom Corcoran, Waterville Valley Resort Founder

 

Back in the day - Waterville Valley