The History of Skiing on Mount Revelstoke
Watch our video Flying Without Wings, featuring the amazing history of ski jumping in Mount Revelstoke National Park using six decades of archival footage.
In February 1916, Nels Nelsen broke the world record by jumping 183 feet on the Revelstoke ski jump © Revelstoke Museum and Archives / Barton / 1916
The Mount Revelstoke Ski Hill site, northeast of Revelstoke and just within Mount Revelstoke National Park, has a history as old as the settlement itself. A local miner introduced "Norwegian Snowshoes" to Revelstoke as early as 1892 and the first ski club was organized the next year.
Skiing developed simultaneously in eastern and western Canada, but from the same source: Norway. Skiing in North America was closely associated with Nordic immigrants who farmed, logged and mined. They formed ski clubs wherever they settled and organized nordic competitions which attracted huge crowds from the very beginning. The Revelstoke ski club was reorganized in 1914 by Sigurd Halverson and Nels Nelsen (world record holder and member of BC Sports Hall of Fame), the same year Mount Revelstoke National Park was established.
Arnfinn Bergmann airborne over Revelstoke, 1947 © Revelstoke Museum and Archives / 1947
Today ski jumping is a spectator sport and few ski hills maintain a jump. But in the earliest years of skiing, jumping was the main emphasis of the sport. From 1915 to the late 1960s, annual ski jumping competitions were held on Mount Revelstoke -- the longest period of any Canadian ski jumping venue. Revelstoke's was the biggest natural ski jump hill in Canada and internationally recognized as one of the best in North America. The length and natural grade of its 600 m hill made possible jumps of over 60 metres -- the longest in Canada. It was also the only hill in Canada where world ski jumping records were set, in 1916, 1921, 1925, 1932 and 1933.
Beginning in the 1930s, the emphasis began to shift to downhill and slalom skiing, but jumping continued as a spectator sport. As late as the early 1960s, the Revelstoke Ski Club and the park improved the jumping facilities, including building the judges' tower that still stands today. The last competition in the park was held in 1971 -- 56 years after the first one. The Mount Revelstoke Ski Hill had closed two years earlier, in favour of a new commercial development outside of park boundaries.
Revelstoke ski jump, 1950s © Revelstoke Museum and Archives
The Nels Nelsen Historic Area at the base of Mount Revelstoke allows you to explore this area. The old ski runs are slowly growing in, but the judges' tower is a prominent local landmark. Revelstoke is still a centre for skiing activity: the Columbia Mountains' tremendous snowfalls and spectacular runs provide ski touring opportunities second to none in the world. For more information on ski touring in our national parks, check our Ski Touring page.
Mount Revelstoke ski jump history on skisprungschanzen.com