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New museum shows history of WA ski areas
Skiers from Washington are in for a treat if  1they stop by the new Washington State Ski and Snowboard Museum on Snoqualmie Pass. The attraction opened in October and features exhibits that tell the story of the ski and snowboard industry in Washington state.

There are several exhibits in the museum covering many aspects of the Washington ski industry.

For example, visitors can selectively view the alpine ski/snowboard and Nordic venue offerings of Washington State that provide snow sports experiences today. In addition, major backcountry areas are shown. The offerings are shown on a large wall mounted map.

A wall mounted interactive monitor allows visitors to select the venue that they want to learn more about. Current information on each venue is provided including photographs and trail maps. During the ski season, updated winter ski conditions will be provided on a live feed.

There are also exhibits by manufacturers showing the evolution of Mervin snowboards and bindings and K2 skis. visitors van view slide and video presentations of Washington State’s current manufacturers (K2 Sports, Mervin--Gnu/Lib Tech snowboards, Outdoor Research, etc.) and retailers (Sturtevants, REI, Evo, etc.). Stories describe current technologies and forecast what the future may hold.

Samples and photographs of historic and current products sold by current Washington based manufactures and retailers along with descriptions of changes in product technologies also are displayed.

A large monitor shows Olympic and Paralympic medal runs along with freeriding and other videos of memorable Washington snow sport personalities. These runs are displayed on a large screen.

Also on display are several items associated with Washington's Olympians: Phil Mahre’s World Cup, Debbie Armstrong’s Olympic Gold Medal, Jim Martinson’s Paralympic Gold Medal, Mark Bathum’s Paralympic Silver Medal, memorabilia from Sochi Olympian Patrick Deneen and miscellaneous memorabilia from 39 Washington Olympians who participated in 16 Winter Olympic Games since 1936.

Other exhibits depict the contributions of many prominent personalities in Washington snow sports.

A rope tow exhibit allows visitors to see in real time the way a rope tow works and be intrigued by a moving display of the mechanical ingenuity and utilitarian nature of this early and dominant form of uphill transport used by skiers from 1936 through the early 1970’s.

Visitors can also see examples of early equipment and accessories used for safe and practical travel both up and down mountain slopes. Visitors learn how ski mountaineering was the earliest form of recreational skiing in Washington and that it was through ski mountaineering that most of our developed ski areas were originally founded.

A floor mounted interactive (touch screen) monitor, linked to a larger wall hung monitor, enables visitors to view stories on the beginning of ski mountaineering, avalanches, rebirth of telemarking and free-riding. Selected photographs of the Cascades throughout the State are viewable.

Various mountaineering equipment is featured including skis, climbing skins, ski poles and boots, backpacks and ice axes. Artifacts are grouped in 3 eras: 1920s—1950s, 1960s--1990s and 2000 and beyond.

Visitors to the museum learn that skiing started as a mode of transportation in Norway many years ago and later in the European Alps. Early enthusiasts began to teach a more controlled manner of turning which lead to exhilaration down-mountain competitions. Those events started the transition away from what was mostly cross country skiing and jumping.

Visitors learn about the history of ski activities at Mt. Rainier, beginning with summer ski jumping contests in 1919. In the 1920’s skiing started changing into more of a participatory sport with the availability of ski gear, snowshoes and toboggans. With the regular plowing of roads leading up to Paradise in the 1930s, skiers starting coming to the area for snow activates, leading to the formation of ski clubs, ski events and carnivals.

A visitor-activated touchscreen monitor will be floor mounted in the front of the exhibit enables visitors to choose from video clips and presentations with audio.

Visitors also learn how immigrant Norwegians, who learned skiing in their homeland, were the most active early participants in the sport and helped introduce skiing to Washington. A floor mounted interactive (touch screen) monitor enables visitors to select stories including: (1) early ski clubs, (2) jumping at Mt Rainier, Cle Elum, Leavenworth, Spokane and Milwaukee Ski Bowl, and (3) the revival of cross country skiing since the 1970’s.

There also is an exhibit on Austrian ski legend Otto Lang, who came to America in the mid-1930’s and introduced the Arlberg method of ski instruction to Americans at Mt Rainier and Mt Baker. Otto went on to direct three ski movies

In another area, visitors will learn of the origins and contributions of one of the world’s earliest and largest recreational and sports training programs for people with physical, sensory and developmental disabilities—Outdoors for All (OFA).

The museum is located a new commercial building directly opposite The Summit Inn and WSDOT’s Travelers’ Rest at the top of Snoqualmie Pass—Exit 52 Eastbound and Exit 53 Westbound. It’s between the Commonwealth café and Dru-Bru.
PHOTO CREDITS: Photo courtesy Washington State Ski and Snowboard Museum
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