Skiing & boarding inventions made in New Jersey?

We are all anxious to get out and schuss the slopes. You know that winter is almost here because the ski/board shops had their big swap sales on Columbus Day weekend.

Did you know that some important skiing & boarding inventions were made right here in New Jersey!

Collins Ski Products – Bergenfield, NJ

Cubco Ski Bindings – Nutley, NJ

Flexible Flyer Sleds – Morrestown, NJ

Gauer Skis – Sparta, NJ

Green Ice Wax – NJ

Jet Engine for snow making – Curtiss-Wright – Fairfield, NJ

Plastic snow mats – Sno-Mats Inc.- Kenilworth, NJ

Ray Hall ski decks – Klochner’s Steel Company – Rockaway, NJ

Rope tows & chair lifts – Roebling, Inc – Roebling, NJ

Ski lifts – Partek Lift Company – Pine Island, NY (just across the NJ border)

Sskiwax – Briareos Company – Mahwah, NJ

SnowEast Magazine – Ramsey, NJ

Winner Line Skis – Winner Boat Company – Trenton, NJ

First ski jumps were built in 1924 at the North Jersey Country Club – Patterson (now Wayne)

Our first official ski areas were built in 1936: Craigmeur & High Point State Park.

Tom Sims made his first snowboard in a 7th grade wood shop class in Haddonfield, NJ. That board and some of his others are in the US Ski & Snowboard Museum in Vail, CO. Tom moved to California and started the Sims Snowboard & Skateboard Company.

Many US Ski/Snowboard Team and Olympic medalists had their start on the icy ski slopes in this state. There were also great ski & snowboard coaches that taught here before they moved on to other locations.

There were approximately 40 different ski hills in our state over the years. This winter the Great Gorge ski area (now Mountain Creek South) will be celebrating its 50th Anniversary. So get out there and enjoy the slopes with your family and friends.

(c) 2015 – Elizabeth Holste – author – Skiing In New Jersey?



Jumping in the hills of New Jersey?

Jumping in the hills of New Jersey?

Many times we’ve been told that New Jersey was never known as a winter sports state. Most people know the state for the miles of beaches that line the shore and the big infamous casinos in Atlantic City.

The state unfortunately has more of a bad reputation from shows like the Sopranos, Jersey Shore and the Housewives of New Jersey. Why is it that this state always gets shown that it has bad or very nasty people in it?

Many people immigrated to the United States to make a better life for themselves. Some settled in New Jersey and started their own farms, businesses and their own social clubs. A few of those clubs were built around winter sports (skiing, ice skating, sledding). There were many great hills in communities that people set up their own sledding runs and some ski runs. A few people even set up ski jumps on their property or in the woods. And believe it or not there were also sanctioned ski races and ski jumping events at these locations.

New Jersey had ski hills located throughout the state. Some of them even had ski jumps. Some people even set up ski jumps on their farms during the winter.  And I am sure you can remember building your own little jump while skiing at one of the many ski areas.

The earliest ski jumps in New Jersey go back to the 1920s and 1930s. Paterson had a ski jump in 1924 on one of the hills on the North Jersey Country Club. High Point State Park had one in 1936 through the early 1960s.

In Lake Telemark (a community of Norwegians) they are very much into participating in sporting events to keep themselves active. Several residents found a great location in the woods and others help clear the land and set up their own jumps. The held jumping contests and also held slalom ski races for many years. And winter wasn’t the only season that they held the competitions! There is a lot of information and some pictures that I was given by members of the NorBu Lodge that showed that they held summer ski jumping events on crushed ice. Other communities in New Jersey held jumping competitions on slopes covered with pine needles.

Odin Ski Hill

(Photo courtesy of Ellen Skavnes)

I spoke with several residents from the community and there is a long tradition of participating in the sport of skiing and jumping. Some of the most famous residents are the Tokle family, the Selands, the Skavnes family and many others. Besides competing on their own ski jumps they also traveled the circuit and jumped at other venues like the Craigmeur Ski Area, Great Gorge Ski Area in New Jersey and the famous Bear Mountain jump in New York State.

Ski jumping has a long history. There was a jump in New Jersey in Paterson from 1924 to 1927. The people that built that one also helped build the famous jump at Bear Mountain State Park. That jump was in use from 1928 to 1990.

The Great Gorge ski area also held jump events during the off season. They put down plastic “snow mats” on their jumps and the run outs and landing areas and many contestants came to compete. The Craigmeur Ski Area had a ski jump also. The first one that was built was blown down in a wind storm. The second one burned down in a fire that also burned down part of the original ski lodge.

Craigmeur ski jump

Art Tokle Jr at the Craigmeur Ski Area jump.

Unfortunately when the age no snow, high energy costs, high insurance rates and liability issues came into play – a lot of these private jumps closed down.

Jumping lost the spotlight for a while but it is now coming back. The biggest competitions are held during the Winter Olympics now. The women finally got the approval to join the fun again and compete.

If you know where to look in the woods you can still find some remnants of the old ski jumps. The best place to see some remains of a big ski jump runs are at the Bear Mountain State Park. The old jump structure is long gone, but the observation tower and the in-run and landing area are still there. You can also walk up the old stone steps to see just how high up on the hill the jumpers had to go to get ready for their run. I often wonder how hard it was to walk up those small stone steps in the winter with the old ankle length ski boots and carrying their long wood skis.

(c) 2015 – Elizabeth Holste – author – Skiing In New Jersey?

1st Night Time Slalom Was Held In New Jersey?

1st Night Time Slalom Was Held In New Jersey?

Many people are surprised when they hear about the inventions and the firsts that happened at the New Jersey ski areas before they made their debut at any of the other winter resorts in the states.

In the 1960s there were several ski areas in New Jersey – but the largest one was the Great Gorge ski area in McAfee. The resort was the premiere place to ski.

Ski racing was heavily promoted and a special trail was carved out just for that. In 1969 Great Gorge held a night time slalom race. It was the first ever held in American racing history. Approximately 45 racers – some from the US and Eastern ski teams gathered on the slopes. There were two courses – one for the men and a separate one for the women. The fastest time for the men was 33.36 and the fastest for the women was 39.25. Several of the participants included 1968 Olympian Rod Taylor and members of the US Ski Team.

This race was the first step for Great Gorge in making a bid to hold the 1976 Winter Olympics. Can you imagine that – the Winter Olympics being held in New Jersey? It almost happened. Over the years Great Gorge hosted many ski races – both professional and amateur. The New Jersey Ski Council was formed in 1939. Their annual State Races were held at the ski area for many years where members of every ski club in the state participated. The New Jersey Ski Council 35th Anniversary State Race was held there in 1971. The Ski Council races are still going strong but have been held at the Pico ski area in Vermont for many years. It would be nice to bring that race back to its home state where it belongs.

Many professional ski racers got their start on the “little icy slopes” in New Jersey. In the early days of ski racing you had to be a member of the United States Eastern Amateur Ski Association. The next progression was to try out for the US Ski Team. The little slopes in New Jersey turned out State Champions, US Ski Team members and a few Olympians.

Since the opening of Great Gorge it was always a haven for local ski racing. Most of the high schools and colleges in the state had very competitive ski teams. At first most races were held during the day – but after the first night time slalom in 1969 all of that changed. For many years races were held at night under the lights on the slopes of the Great Gorge ski area.

When the Great Gorge North ski area was opened in 1971 – plans included building an Olympic sized racing section. Unfortunately those plans never came to fruition.

When the Intrawest Company bought the Vernon Valley/Great Gorge ski area in 1998 and renamed it the Mountain Creek Ski Resort – the focus on ski racing changed. Intrawest turned all of the trails of the former Great Gorge ski area into the largest terrain park in the country and many skiers were not happy with the decision. Long time season pass holders left and went to other ski resorts. Racing was moved over to a slope on the old Vernon Valley ski area and that quickly fell apart since there was no ski lodge there and little support given to any kind of ski racing.

The Intrawest Company fell on to financial hard times and sold all of the ski resorts they owned. Mountain Creek became part of the Crystal Springs Resort complex. This year ski racing will return to the slopes where it first started. And many improvements to one of the racing trails has been done by Ed Gumpy and a dedicated staff of builders.  The Kamikazee trail has been widened and regarded and will again be the premiere racing trail in the state. Many high school racers are thrilled that they will be allowed to race on the slopes again.

Who knows – maybe the New Jersey Ski & Snowboard Council will bring their annual State Race back to its home state also. Maybe the tide is turning again and people are going back to skiing instead of snowboarding.

If you have a chance this winter – check out the slopes of Mountain Creek South – the original Great Gorge ski area. There is a lot of history at this resort. If you are interested in reading about the history of Great Gorge – buy a copy of Peg Kurlander’s book – The Tow And I. It is available on You can also read a lot about New Jersey’s ski history in my book – Skiing In New Jersey?

(c) 2014 – Elizabeth Holste – author – Skiing In New Jersey?

Racing returns to South!

Racing is returning at Mountain Creek South this year with many big improvements.

The race room in the lodge has been relocated to a much larger space in the base lodge in the Mountain Creek South base lodge. This also gives the racing staff more office space. The racing teams will be responsible for keeping the new space clean and organized.

Some of the biggest improvements are being done to the resort’s premier racing trail – kamikazee. Most of the trails here were designed and built in 1965. Not much has changed with the trails except for terrain park features being added to them several  years  ago.

This year the Kamikazee trail is being totally redesigned. It is being homologated to make it compliant for USSA racing by making it wider, regarding, relocating  snow making, adding new lights and moving timing shacks. Ed Gumpy has been doing a lot of the work and supervising the crews that are also contracted to complete this  before ski season starts.

A few weeks ago Ed gave several people a tour of what is being done. The trail and the racing that will happen on it this winter will be top notch. The Mountain Creek ski area is the home of the Skylands Ski Club. Russ Selsor is the Racing Director. If you are looking for a great  racing  program and certified race coaches check out:

(2014) – Elizabeth Holste – author – Skiing In New Jersey?

Erling Omland – RIP

There are many people who shared their love of skiing with others. One of them was Erling Omland. He was one of the icons of skiing in New Jersey and Vermont. He passed on a few days ago.

This is Erling’s obituary:

Erling Omar Omland was born May 21, 1917 in Pittsfield, MA, son of Jacob and Bessie Elingsen Omland. He was educated in the public schools or Risr, Norway, Flatbush, NY and Roselle, NJ. He attended Union College in Cranford, NJ. He married Carolyn Burke (Connie) Omland on October 15, 1955.

For Erling, skiing was a way of life. He was founder and president of the Watchung Ski Club, currently celebrating its 75th year, and the New Jersey Ski Council. He was proud to know and support the great people who established Pico Ski Area, to have helped its racing programs flourish and more recently to be a senior statesman or alpine skiing, honored to be Pico Ski Club’s “Man of the Century”. Starting in the late 1930’s and for six decades following he made annual pilgrimages to Tuckerman’s Ravine on Mount Washington. He served as director, treasurer and vice president of the Eastern Amateur Ski Association. He was a member of the board of the Vermont Amateur Racing Association and founder of the Pic Ski Education Foundation.

After first registering as a conscientious objector, he joined and served in the 10th Mountain Division during World War II and was awarded a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star for his combat service in Italy. He taught and supervised military mountaineering skills including skiing and rock climbing with the Mountain Training Group at Camp Hale, Colorado. After the war, he taught skiing with Walter Prager at Dartmouth where he was a certified professional ski instructor and supervised military mountaineering at Camp Carson, Colorado. In 1947-8, he returned to Norway to assist in rebuilding of the ancestral family farms which had fallen into disrepair during World War II.

Prior to moving to Vermont in 1952, he was an accountant with Johnson & Johnson in New Jersey. In Vermont, Erling held a variety of accounting and managerial positions: Green Mountain Marble, Killington Wood Products, College of St. Joseph in Rutland, St. Joseph’s College in Bennington, Sisters of St. Joseph and Rutland Mental Health.

Within the Rutland region, Erling was a director of the Rutland Regional Chamber of Commerce (an interesting position for a lifelong socialist), and director, past president and Paul Harris fellow of the Rutland Rotary Club. With his wife, Connie, he was a member of the Vermont Ecumencial Council and was active in Vermont Cursillo.

As a writer, he documented daily life in thousands of songs, poems and letters to his family. He scribed countless newsletters for ski and rotary clubs. He was honored to share his poems at the 10th Mountain Division events, including having Tom Brokaw read one of his poems during the TV broadcast of the 2002 Winter Olympics. He was contributing editior to Norway Times and Skiing Heritage. His column “Leaves from a Skier’s Journal” regularly appeared in the Mountain Times (Killington, VT) over three decades. After retirement, Erling devoted much of his time to writing, and published a memoir of his Norwegian and World War II experiences in “Hill Echoes.”

Erling was consistent and devoted to his wife, Connie (Carolyn Burke Omland), who died of cancer in 2002, and to Ruth Fish with whom he delightedly shared his last decade. Erling cared deeply about social justice, peace and the health of natural systems. He loved everyday life. Mowing the lawn, chopping wood, helping those near him on projects and officiating the start of ski races – perhaps especially on cold days!

Survivors include son Kevin and Sonja Scheffer and grandson Alex of Maryland; daughter Mari and Laura Olsen of Northfield; son Kristian and Laurel Omland, grandchildren Phoebe and Aron of Jericho; and beloved partner Ruth Fish of Rutland.

In lieu of flowers, contributions honoring Erling may be made to Pico Ski Education Foundation, Dismas House and Rutland United Way.

Calling hours will be at Clifford Funeral home – 2 Washington Street – Rutland, VT from 4pm – 7pm – Friday – September 26th and a memorial service will be held at the Andrea Mead Lawrence Lodge at Pico Mountain at 11am on Saturday – September 27th followed by a lunch reception.

(c) September 9, 2014 Rutland Herald

Atlantic City Ski Jump – 1937

Ski jumping was and still is a growing sport. Competitions were held all over the United States and Europe. Believe it or not – but there was a ski jump in Atlantic City, New Jersey in June 1937.  Russel Griswald takes off from the top of the 110 foot jump tower and lands on what looks to be hay and pine needles.

Women’s ski jumping has finally been approved to be part of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. The men have been competing for many years. It is finally time for the women to show that they can step up to the plate and be better than the men at this sport!

(c) 2014 – Elizabeth Holste – author – Skiing In New Jersey?

History of the Paralympics

With 2014 being another Olympic year – I thought I would write something about the Paralympics that in the past have not had much coverage. The athletes that participate in these games are just as important as the ones that participate in the regular Olympics. In fact these athletes should be given more accolades as they have overcome what some might call special gifts.

There are many incredibly talented athletes that will be representing the United States Teams this year. One of them is a young local New Jersey woman who has shown the world that she and her coach have the right stuff to take on whatever comes at them and succeed. Staci Mannella was born with an eye disease called Acromatopsia. It is an extreme sensitivity to light and severely limits Staci’s vision. That has never stopped her from trying everything and anything. Her amazing parents always support Staci in her wanting to try everything.  Staci started skiing at the age of 4 and picked it up quickly. She trained with various instructors and coaches and continued to get faster. Staci and her current coach Kim Seevers have been on an amazing journey. Several years ago they were accepted on to the United States Alpine Paralympic Development Ski Team. They quickly worked their way up the ranks and are now on the US A Team! They won their first World Cup Gold medal this summer in New Zealand. All I can say is look out Sochi, Russia – here they come! They continue to show that they are a force to be reckoned with.

After the 2014 Paralympics – Staci Mannella will add to her amazing journey through life by attending Dartmouth University in the Fall.

The history of the Paralympic games goes back to the late 1980s.

The Paralympic Games is a major international multi-sport event, involving athletes with a range of physical and intellectual capabilities, including mobility issues, amputations, various levels of visual impairment, and cerebral palsy. There are Winter and Summer Paralympic Games. Since their start with the 1988 Summer Games in Seoul, South Korea, they are held in the same locations immediately following the respective Olympic Games. All Paralympic Games are governed by the International Paralympic Committee (IPC).

The Paralympics have grown from a small gathering of British World War II veterans in 1948 to become one of the largest international sporting events. Paralympians strive for equal treatment with non-disabled Olympic athletes, but there is a large funding gap between Olympic and Paralympic athletes. The Paralympic athletes have to come up with their own funding and sponsorships so they can compete.

The Paralympic Games are organized in parallel with the Olympic Games, while the IOC-recognized Special Olympics World Games include athletes with intellectual disabilities, and the Deaflympics include deaf athletes.

The Summer Games of 1988 held in Seoul was the first time the term “Paralympic” came into official use.

Given the wide variety of disabilities that Paralympic athletes have, there are several categories in which the athletes compete. The allowable disabilities are broken down into six broad categories. The categories are amputee, cerebral palsy, intellectual disability, wheelchair, visually impaired, and others.

These athletes should be celebrated for showing the world just how capable they really are.

The 2014 Paralympics will be held in March in Sochi, Russia!

Go Team USA!!!

(c) 2014 – Elizabeth Holste – author – Skiing In New Jersey?

The Dog Days of Freestyle Skiing

Brian Gilmore started his documentary project in February 2010. Then again I guess he really started it much earlier in his life when he began skiing. His passion for the sport quickly grew like most of us. It all began at a small ski area in Michigan..

Like Brian I am also passionate about preserving ski history. I have been searching for any information I can find on the small ski areas that we had in New Jersey. I self-published a book – “Skiing In New Jersey?” My project took me approximately 4 years before it was finished. Brian’s documentary project has also taken him several years as he has a full time job and can only work on it on his free time.

Who remembers the early days of the freestyle skiing competitions? Moguls, ballet, etc… As an independent filmmaker – Brian has been working on documenting the birth and hay day of freestyle skiing.

The 1960s and 1970s were the decades that truly defined the birth of freestyle skiing. Skiing as a sport was on a major growth boom during this time. At any mountain you could find talented local skiers performing incredible tricks of small jumps they built on the slopes. They were also “dancing” down the ski slopes doing ballet type moves. They all created their signature tricks or moves. Every young kid wanted to emulate their heroes whether it was following someone who was just a few years older or a major celebrity. Skiers during this time were very much “freestyle” spirits. They were college ski club kids that were out enjoying life, partying and skiing as much as they could. Many of the ski magazines had articles that showed kids how to pull of fantastic moves on the slopes. Through some patience and lots of practice many people mastered these new tricks. It was time to get out on the slopes in competitions and show everyone what they could do.

Do names like Wayne Wong, John Clendenin, Suzy Chaffee, Stein Ericksen, Tom Corcoran or Donna Weinbrecht sound familiar? They have all grown up as skiers and they have all become outstanding competitors in this sport.

People were skiing moguls and launching off of ski jumps way before the 1960s and 1970s. But the first sanctioned competitions for freestyle skiing were held in 1971 at the Waterville Valley Ski Area in New Hampshire. One of the steepest mogul runs in the east is the Outer Limits trail at the Killington Ski Area in Vermont. For many years Killington has been hosting the Annual Mogul Challenge. Skiers like 1992 Olympic Gold medalist – Donna Weinbrecht got her real start on this slope. She was self-taught as well! She watched what the boys were doing and decided that she could do it also. She competed for many years and someone saw her and before you know it – she was a member of the US Ski Team. That is when she got her first official ski coach – Park Smalley and went on to win the first Gold medal ever given for freestyle skiing during the 1992 Olympics.

During the 1960s and 1970s there was great television coverage of the major skiing competitions. Coverage of the Winter Olympics helped spread the interest in the sports also. There were television shows like ABC’s “Wide World of Sports”.

Do you remember Suzy Chaffee? Some might remember her as Suzy Chapstick! She helped popularize the sport through the television commercials that she did for the Chapstick Company. I’m sure a lot of guys remember the skin tight ski suits she wore while she was schussing down the slopes.

Throughout this project – Brian Gilmore has had the opportunity to speak to many of the icons of freestyle skiing. He has recorded audio and video interviews with Wayne Wong, Stein Ericksen, Donna Weinbrecht, John Clendenin and many others. All of the money for this film project has come out of Brian’s own pocket. With the help of a small loan a young filmmaker was hired to help with this project. The documentary is a real who’s who of the freestyle ski eras. Since Brian is an independent filmmaker – it has been hard for him to complete this project quickly. To finish it and get it out to the public he is looking for some sponsors so he can finish paying for the effects, titles, licensing some great music and complete the final edits.

Once the documentary is complete – the final step will be to choose screening venues to show it. I don’t know about you – but I can’t wait to see this historical film about the winter sport that I love.

If you would like to help Brian Gilmore with sponsorships – please contact him vial email at

You can follow the progress of “The Dog Days of Winter” on Facebook on the True Grit Productions Facebook page or on the tumbler page.

(c) 2014 – Elizabeth Holste – author – Skiing In New Jersey?

Meathead Films

Meatheads Films is a great company that produces films about skiing & boarding at the East Coast resorts. The following is from their website.

History of the Company

Meathead Films was founded by Geoff McDonald in 2001 with the production of the first movie, A Natural Force.  A ski, snowboard and skateboard flick, A Natural Force was distributed locally on VHS.
The next season followed with the release of Elevated, a ski specific movie that was the first film ever to showcase both freestyle and backcountry skiing in Eastern terrain. Receiving national praise, Elevated helped put Meathead Films on the map, and secured our place as the East’s first ski film company dedicated to showcasing the region.
In the summer of 2003, Meathead Films athlete, Chris James (aka Rooster), took over as the photographer and marketing director, and became company partners with Geoff.
That following winter was the company’s most ambitious season yet as a two-movie production schedule was planned.  Both Schooled (the follow-up to Elevated) and Epoch (a historical/ adventure documentary) were filmed in the same winter.
   Schooled was released on DVD in fall 2004 and went on a 10 stop tour, while Epoch became a two year project of… you guessed it: epic proportions.
The winter of 2005 saw Meathead Films starting production on their new movie, Born From Ice, as well as putting the finishing touches on Epoch.  Both movies were nationally distributed on DVD in the fall of 2005.  The films went on a combined tour of over 30 locations.
2006 proved to be another double-movie year for Meathead Films as the company released a Stowe Team Video, Stowked, in addition to the feature film, Snow Gods. The movie chronicled the struggle and glories of the unusually warm 05/06 winter and the DVD was picked up for international distribution by Ally Video. It became a region-wide hit as the Meatheads expanded the tour to 45 locations and premiered the movie to over 10,000 people. A new lead sponsor, Subaru of New England, provided an Outback wagon, dubbed “The Meat Wagon,” that carried them everywhere on the Snow Gods tour and throughout the next winter’s filming season.
Wanderland was a movie that once again thrusted Meathead Films into the national spotlight in 2007 after being nominated for “Best Powder” and “Best Jib” at the Powder Magazine Video Awards, considered to be the Academy Awards of the ski film industry. So naturally, the Meathead staff traveled to Aspen for the ceremony. No hardware was won, but the movie was also invited as an Official Selection at the 1st annual International Freeski Film Festival in Montreal. Wanderland showcased the crew’s second visit to the backcountry of Newfoundland, amazing urban locales, as well as the die-hard story of Ohio ski fanatic, Radio Ron. The movie traveled to over 60 screenings including the Boston ski expo. The follow-up to the Stowe Resort movie, Stowked Again, was another project tackled by Meathead Films in 2007. That year also marked Meathead Films’ first intern, Josh Malczyk, to help with the website, distribution, and tour promotion.  Mr. Malczyk is now the Global Marketing Manager for Line skis, Full Tilt boots, and Planet Earth clothing.  Not bad!

This fall, Meathead Films will release their 9th annual DVD, Work It Out, as well as their 5th Stowe Resort movie, Get Stowked.  Having used five full time cinematographers to document the funky 2010 winter, Work It Out showcases the craggy White Mountains of New Hampshire, urban alleyways of Maine, custom park jumps in New Jersey and Vermont, and documents the only cat skiing operation in Eastern North America located in Quebec.  The most unique segments of the film are undoubtedly an urban trip to Washington DC and the company’s first ever overseas voyage to the “Far East” of Hokkaido, Japan.

rooster_silloutte.jpg In the beginning their was… Rooster?  Rooster at Stowe, March 2003 Photo: Geoff McDonald/ MHF



   (c) 2013 – Elizabeth Holste – author – Skiing In New Jersey?