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 "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.)

More Local Ski Resorts Today

Back in the 1960s there were only  two local ski resorts.  The Homestead   in Hot Springs and Bryce Ski Resort up the Shenandoah Valley.

Today Roanoke  skiers have many  options."  Visit our   Local Skiing page for links to all the local ski resorts.

    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.

What did a ski trip cost back in the '70s?

1973-74.
A week at Crested Butte for $285.  Includes air, lodging, and lifts.  That's right, $285 for airfare, lodging and lift tickets. 

1974-75. Richard Wells (now publisher of Roanoker magazine) leads a weekend trip to  Snowshoe. Bus, lifts, and room at Spruce Lodge  for only $45.
 
1976-77. Gordon and Wanda Hamilton lead a  weekend trip to Blue Knob, PA.  Price is $59 for  transportation, lifts, and lodging.

1977-78.
Twelve day-trips to Snowshoe are  planed. Each costing $21 for bus and lift tickets. 

     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. 

A Long-Standing Logo Comes to Life in the 90s

The Roanoke Ski Club logo was designed by Lou Scavnicky in about 1984 or 1985.  The animated  logo  did not join the club until the year 2001 when the logo was brought to life by Roger Pommerenke.

     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.