The German Ski Club of New York began its existence in December of 1929 when sixteen
skiers met at the Austrian Hall on East 82nd Street, New York City, and conceived the idea of forming a club through which
they could better carry on their beloved sport - skiing. To
them skiing was not new, it had been a necessity as well as a pastime in their homeland. They met to discuss where to ski,
how to get there, how to interest other skiers and introduce the sport to newcomers.
numbers increased during that first winter and the snowy Sundays were many, buses were chartered to Salisbury Mills, NY. During
the early years, Salisbury Mills became the center of the Club’s activities. It was the site of the first club race
– a four-mile cross-country race. The following winter, a great
construction project was undertaken by the members – the building
of a downhill trail at Salisbury Mills. The first downhill race officially opened the trail in 1934. Meanwhile, up until 1936
the Club’s meetings and business had been conducted in German, but that year the Club embraced English to better serve
the increasing diversity of membership as recent immigrants assimilated and brought in new friends.
the continued popularity of skiing, the GSC developed and competitive skiing became an important feature. Every winter a growing
number of the members participated in races and not even winters with unfavorable snow conditions were a barrier. Picture
it: North Creek, NY, February 13, 1938. This was the day on which the New York Downhill Race was to be held. Snow on the racing
trail was almost non-existent but with help from North Creek’s townsfolk who donated axes, picks, shovels, rakes and
the like, the members of the Gore Mountain and German Ski Clubs labored one whole day to convert the entire icy trail into
something resembling snow. In spite of the many obstacles, the race was held successfully and without mishap.
All was developing nicely with the German Ski Club of New York. On May 16, 1941, the Club was granted
a charter of incorporation and added “Inc.” to its name. Many young people were joining the club and quite a few
showed promise of becoming excellent skiers. Meanwhile, new ski areas were opening all over New England, new tows and lifts
were put into operation, and finer ski equipment was available. Then came Pearl Harbor and shortly thereafter the young men
were called into the Armed Services. Competition came to a standstill, and except for sporadic outings by some members, the
GSC along with other ski clubs was for the most part inactive.
During this brief period
of quiescence for the Club, 43 members served our country in many capacities – 33 in the Army – 11 in the Mountain
Infantry – 3 in the Navy – 3 in the Air Corps – 2 in the Marines – and 1 each in the Coast Guard,
Merchant Marine, and the WAC. Two of the members died in action: John Puccinik on Iwo Jima and Sig Vogel, one of the Club’s
ablest young skiers, “somewhere in Europe.” Among the citations received were a Silver Star, 7 Bronze Stars, 5
Purple Hearts, 38 Battle Stars and 9 Oak Leaf Clusters.
Since the 1950s and continuing to the present,
the Club has been fortunate to consistently attract new members. Initially these came from further arrivals to this country
from Germany and Austria who had been skiing their whole lives. They then brought in new and diverse friends and family as
they settled in the United States. Now our Club is home to not only those of German descent, but also members who are Austrian,
Polish, Irish, Estonian, Italian. Just like this country, there’s a little bit of everything but everyone’s as
American as apple pie!
These newer members of the Club, supported by the veterans, carried on our strong
racing tradition and our history continued to reflect this. Our Club is a member of the Metropolitan Ski Council, and has
remained consistently competitive in the Council Race and in other events. Our members proudly represented their Club at other
events as well: for many years our Club paraded each spring in full ski regalia at Randalls Island on the annual German-American
Sports Day, and when the annual Steuben Day Parade was initiated, the Club was invited to participate, and for several years
the members marched – skis on their shoulders - right up Fifth Avenue.
Switching seasons now:
for 75 years, the German Ski Club has maintained a summer camp on Lake Stahahe in the Harriman State Park. This camp has historically
provided a basic cohesion for the Club – Camp Eureka is where the action is between snow seasons and even during the
winter when there is no snow. Badminton tournaments, along with plattl competitions have enlivened many a summer weekend.
A sizable flotilla provides opportunities for boating and sailing. The annual Sonnenwend Feier (a summer solstice celebration
now called the Spring Dance) was established in the 1930s and Field Day began in 1962. Both are well-attended to this day
and enjoyed by everyone.
In the past almost 80 years, the German Ski Club of New York, Inc. has come a
long way from its beginning as a small group of men and women who loved to ski. Loved it enough to build their own trail,
improvise their own equipment and proclaim as a goal of the Club their wish to interest others in this grand sport. The goal
of these early pioneers was long ago fulfilled, and the members of the German Ski Club are proud to belong to this Club which
remains an outstanding and respected part of the larger ski community.