1963 – "World Series of Skiing’ comes to Vail
Snow was thin again in December 1963, but the successful intervention, orchestrated by Dick Hauserman, of some Ute Indian Snow Dancers, brought plentiful snow just in time for the training camp opening on Dec. 20. This time, the training camp was big news.
CBS Sports Television was there to cover the first training race, and Sports Illustrated, Look Magazine, Ski, and Skiing sent correspondents. Vogue Magazine, invited by socialite Ann Taylor, was there to write about the society skiers in Vail for the holidays. Vail would be the cynosure of the skiing world on only its second Christmas season.
But, the CBS crews had not reckoned with Colorado weather. Everything was ready – brand-new Marconi television cameras were set up along the race course, but without the necessary heating blankets. Jack Whitaker, the famous announcer, was there to do the show, and the CBS vice-president of television was present to boast about the accomplishment.
Suddenly, overnight the temperatures plummeted to 10 degrees below zero, and all the cameras froze. There was no television coverage. Jobs were lost at CBS. Jack Whitaker said it was the only time in CBS history that a sporting event of this nature had been cancelled because of frozen cameras.
Yet, hundreds of still photos and dozens of articles and news stories resulted in introducing Vail and the U.S. Ski Team as stars to the nation. A few months later, at Innsbruck, Bud Werner, Billy Kidd, and Jimmie Heuga showed the world that U.S. skiing had come of age.
During the professional ski races, eminent European sports journalist Serge Lange visited Vail. He liked what he saw and proposed that a truly international ski event could be held here.
Along with U.S. Ski Team coach Bob Beattie, Seibert, and Parker, Lange organized a series of international team races, the first to be held in March 1965. For the first time in skiing history, the great alpine ski teams of Europe would be matched against those of Canada and the United States. Beattie dubbed the races the World Series of Skiing.
Editor’s Note: In a continued effort to help the community understand its roots, the Vail Daily for a second time is serializing Dick Hauserman’s “The Inventors of Vail.” This is the 54th installment, an excerpt from chapter 7, “The History of Ski Racing in Vail.” The book is available at Verbatim Booksellers, The Bookworm of Edwards, Pepi’s Sports, Gorsuch Ltd. and The Rucksack, as well as other retailers throughout the valley. Hauserman can be contacted by phone at 926-2895 or by mail at P.O. Box 1410, Edwards CO, 81632.
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