While Ole ‘The Bear’ was busy bustin’ bear butt and working for the man skiing His Majesty’s Mail up the Big Bend (see previous post), Revelstoke itself was beginning to take shape as the cradle of western skiing.
In 1913, Jorgen and Anna Gunnarsen emigrated from Norway to the Big Eddy in Revelstoke. That same year, the Nelson family of Nels Nelson fame also landed in the Stoke. A year later in 1914, the Revelstoke Ski Club was formed and a year after that, with 102 members, it was the largest club in Canada. Snap.
Jorgen Gunnarsen was a woodworker and avid skier while Anna quickly became the matriarch of skiing in Revelstoke. They brought four boys with them (Carl, Hans, Gunnar and Emil… that’s right… Gunnar Gunnarsen… sweet), and together they helped to form 40 years of ski history in the Big Bend. All four boys went on to become leading competitive skiers and kicked some serious ass in x-country, jumping and slalom competitions. Their dad, being the competent and crafty dude he was, made all of the skis the family used and many of the skis the locals were skiing on, by hand… even the four boys’ racing and jumping skis were made by their father, as one of his sons remembers in an interview sometime after his dad had passed away:
We used birch in the early years, birch that uh, we went in the bush and cut birch trees down and Dad would split them and dry them out and make our skis out of birch.” – Carl Gunnarsen
Insert a long history of Big Bend ski jumping here… names like Nels Nelson, Isabel Coursier, Bob Lymbourne and Arnold Stone jumping their faces off at local areas like ‘Suicide Hill’ and of course, the ‘Big Bend Ski Jump’.
Times have changed, and that once forgotten notion of communities providing for themselves has somehow become new again. Maybe common sense will prevail? These days, local has taken on a whole new meaning – the coffee beans are grown in Africa, but because they are roasted nearby, choosing them over another brand means you are buying ‘local’. Bigbend Skis is much the same, in that our materials are sourced from a few key suppliers often located in other countries, while the manufacturing process takes place locally. Is this better than buying skis manufactured in China or Europe? I think so (I also think I made a terrible mistake last weekend when I bought that big, cheap bag of beans from the Stuperstore).
Skis designed and/or conceived locally yet built oversees are not the same, so:
Bigbend Skis will use industry spec’d, top-drawer materials to produce high quality, custom skis that are conceived of and designed by our customers (that’s you) and handcrafted in Revelstoke, BC, Canada. – BIGBEND Skis (that’s us)
Is it OK for short men to use lifts?