Telemark in Vermont
Norwegian ski club spans generations
Imagine gliding through a pine forest nestled in the wilds of Vermont, a vast sky above and a breadth of pure white below. Nearby, a lovely clapboard lodge that wouldn’t be out of place in Norway is where you would lay your head—this is the Telemark Ski Club, now in its 84th year.
Founded in 1936 in Brooklyn by mostly Norwegian immigrants, the club began as a grassroots organization that constructed a ski jump in Williams Lake, N.Y. It was, however, illegal to host tournaments of this kind unless you were part of a sanctioned U.S. organization. So the club became part of the U.S. Eastern Amateur Association, the organization responsible for the Winter Olympics being held in Lake Placid.
Of course, fun and frivolity cannot last forever. When WWII broke out, many members (who were mostly Norwegian) became part of the 99th Battalion, 10th Mountain Division, a Norwegian-speaking division of the U.S. Army that trained as ski patrols, preparing for a possible strike on occupied Norway. Although this did not occur, they were part of the infantry that took part in the Normandy invasion.
With so many members absent, the club was basically inactive during the war. In 1948, it began to organize downhill ski trips as that type of skiing had grown in popularity. By 1957, Telemark skiing had “become part of U.S. skiing.” Several influential members helped create the Metropolitan New York Ski Council. There was also a successful push to get more and younger members involved.
Since its inception, the club had been nomadic, mostly lodging in rentals throughout northern New York and Vermont. By the early 1960s, it began to outgrow these rentals and decided to buy a building, choosing Rolling Acres Inn near Killington, Vt. The club secured a mortgage and took ownership in 1963. Members did all the fixing up and cleaning up. They were lucky to have skilled carpenters and plumbers as part of their organization. I have often heard Brooklynite members speak about how much fun those work weekends were. And more than that, the lodge fostered camaraderie on and off season. In summer, other recreational opportunities were offered, such as horseback riding, golf, and swimming in a nearby lake.
With a decrease in immigrants from Norway, the club stuck to its traditions but began to have more members joining from a variety of backgrounds. It also became more family oriented. One lifetime member, Arnold Egeland, is 86 and skis with three generations of his family. Having grown up in both the United States and Norway, he always skied, but Telemark Ski Club weekend trips to Vermont “taught me how to really ski.”
The same year the club bought the lodge, Egeland, his wife, and their daughters moved from Brooklyn to New Jersey, conveniently an hour closer to the lodge. “Our daughters all grew up going skiing in Vermont. I give credit to my wife, Vivian, for dedicating the many hours teaching our girls and grandchildren skiing. So of course we have continued to also have their kids be members of the club, and all the grandkids are expert skiers. Our youngest daughter attended college in Colorado, skiing on weekends. She is currently the general manager of the Village of Squaw Valley Ski Area in Lake Tahoe. Her daughter, age 14, is No. 2 in the country in Big Mountain Skiing, and her other girl, now 17, is a ski instructor. Daughter No. 2’s son, also 17, is a ski instructor, but at Campgaw Mountain Ski Area in New Jersey.”
It’s safe to say that skiing runs in Egeland’s family, and the Telemark Club was a big part of that.
If you’d like to visit a Norwegian cultural landmark and experience acres of fresh powder, verdant summers, or the autumnal display of Vermont foliage, why not consider becoming a member of the Telemark Ski Club? Whether, single, partnered, or looking for a place to create wholesome family memories—or even foster a possible Olympic medalist—this idyllic sanctuary is sure to please.
This article originally appeared in the April 5, 2019, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.