"Ya, the skiing ist goot" - History of the Roanoke Ski Club
The early years of the Roanoke Ski Club are intertwined with the Homestead Resort ski area in Hot Springs, Virginia, where downhill skiing was successfully introduced to the South in 1959, and with its skimeister, Austrian-born Sepp Kober. Although the Club was founded in Roanoke in 1963 by the late Frank E. Koehler, a transplanted New Englander who enjoyed cross-country skiing before coming to Roanoke, Frank had help and advice from Sepp in starting this area's first ski club. The early meetings of the club were held in the basement of Frank's house, and at the Roanoke Memorial Hospital. Many of the early members were transplanted Yankees from General Electric. (GE moved a manufacturing plant from Schenectady, NY, to Salem, Va, in 1956.)
This was a time when there were no ski resorts in West Virginia or North Carolina. About the only downhill skiing available to Roanoke area skiers was at the Homestead Resort in Hot Springs, Virginia or at Bryce Resort up the Shenandoah Valley north of New Market, Virginia. A really long-distance Club trip in those days would have been a weekend trip to Blue Knob, Pennsylvania.
Frank was the President of WDBJ radio in Roanoke, and long-time Roanoke area skiers recall how Frank would regularly broadcast a telephone interview with Sepp Kober about the skiing conditions at the Homestead. When Frank would ask Sepp about the current skiing conditions, Sepp would almost always reply in accented English, "Ya, the skiing ist goot." Club members soon learned that Sepp was sometimes an optimist. Nevertheless, the Roanoke Ski Club owes much of its heritage to Sepp Kober as well as Frank Koehler.
As more ski resorts became established in North Carolina, West Virginia, and Virginia during the early growth of the Club, one-day, or weekend, bus trips to these new resorts proved to be popular, and two buses were often required to transport the skiers who signed up for the trips. (One trip to Snowshoe required four buses). The Club offered few long-distance trips in those days. As the Club has grown and times have changed, the trip situation has largely reversed itself. In recent years the Club has run a half-dozen or so long distance trips each year to such places as the Western US, New England, Canada, Europe, South America, New Zealand and in 2008 the club has a trip planned for Japan. With a focus on long-distance trips the club has run fewer bus day trips. Also, the weekend trips generally involve car-pooling. All of these changes are in response to changes in member's preferences.
About 1984 or 1985, a new Club logo was designed by then-member, Lou Scavnicky, incorporating a stylized skier, mountain, and Roanoke's Mill Mountain Star. This logo, sans its original shield-shaped outline (representing the outline of the Club's once- popular cloth patches), is still in use today.