University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
The University of Wisconsin Collection

Page View

Murphy, Thomas H. (ed.) / Wisconsin alumnus
Vol. 70, Number 3 (Dec. 1968)

Collins, Joan
If you see a crowd, they're skiers,   pp. 8-10


Page 9


   50 years ago when a group of Norwegian students spent
   their Christmas holidays building a wooden jump atop
   Muir Knoll, a scaffold that was to last for 10 years.
   That winter, 1919, Finn Aanesen, wrote in Wisconsin
   Alumnus, "Let us keep in the lead, else we might see
   another University go ahead of us for wherever ski
   sport is introduced, it will keep growing forever!"
      He called the first ski meet at the wooden jump "the
   start of a new and wonderful sport. Skiing is without
   comparison, the healthiest, and most exciting of all
   winter sports. It takes a great deal of practice, but even
   this is fascinating. -To-go-racing down a -hill side at -a
- speed-of 90- miles per hour,-over-bump&Anholes, turn-
    ing sharp curves without decreasing speed . . . is more
    exciting than words can describe. To shoot upwards into
    the air and finally light 150 feet or more from take off
    is not only thrilling, it is so wonderful that it beats
    everything in the way of sport!"
      At that time, skiing was virtually unknown in Wis-
    consin except among a core of hearty Scandinavians
    who brought their skis and enthusiasm with them from
    the old country. Sport shops in Madison sold only chil-
    dren's skis. Bindings, poles or ski boots were unheard
    of here, so the Hoofers ordered 20 complete sets
    through the Dartmouth Outing Club, and rented them
    to students courageous enough to give the new sport a
    try.
      By 1930 the home-made scaffold was in sad shape,
   condemned and put to rest by the skiers themselves.
   A Daily Cardinal story reports that "just at the critical
   moment when you could almost hear the old bones of
   the noble giant rotting into a death fall, a regiment of
   heroes came galloping up, armed to the teeth with picks,
   shovels, etc., to destroy the monster."
      The next year, a committee composed of Professor
   H. C. Bradley; Porter Butts, director of the Union; and
   students Edward Thomas, Henry Baker, Sally Owen
   Marshall and Morilla Eggler formed the Hoofers Ski
   Club. Baker became the first president. Sally Marshall
   designed the Hoofer patch, a black horseshoe and W
   on a red background,' signifying good luck and sym-
   bolizing that Hoofers go places under their own power
   -they "hoof it".
      Prof. Bradley, an enthusiastic skier, was named dub
    advisor. "I am not willing to see skiing go from our
    campus without a fight," he said, and with that he and
    others donated $300 to establish a fund to build a new
    and better ski jump. The class of 1932 donated $700
    and the Union Board offered another $300. Proceeds
    from two University ski functions brought in additional
    funds. In 1932, $1,600 paid for most of the new jump,
    a steel giant reaching 56 feet in the air and weighing
    55 tons.
      Sally Marshall won the distinction of being the first
   woman to ride the new jump at the dedication cere-
   monies in February, 1933. Attending the affair,
   which attracted 5,000 spectators, were Governor A. G.
   Schmedeman, Glenn Frank, president of the University,
   December-January, 1969
and James Law, Madison mayor. The new ski jump was
one of the best in the country, and the Hoofers made
the most of it by holding annual ski touraments, de-
veloping top ski jumpers along the way. Charles Brad-
ley, whom the Cardinal dubbed "Wun Long Hop", in
1933 skied off the slide, garbed in purple tunic and
baggy trousers to commemorate the advent of ski jump-
ing as a major sport on campus.
   By 1938 the Hoofer team was on its way to ski fame,
 with at least four Olympic skiers on its roster. There
 was Walter Bietila, its captain, who'd gone to the
 Olympics in 1936 and was to go again in 1940; his
brother,_Paul, who took a thirctplace in the Interna-
tional Ski Federation meet in '38, would win the
National Intercollegiate ski championship in 1939 and
go on to the 1940 Olympics before his tragic death that
same year in a jumping accident in St. Paul; Lloyd
Ellingson, who'd made the Olympic team in the early
30's; and former Swiss Olympic skier, Jurgen Poly.
   Then there was Dave Bradley, son of H. C. and
brother of Charles, who had been captain of the Dart-
mouth and Oxford teams before coming to the Uni-
versity; and Hubert "Stinky" Dickinson, who won the
Intercollegiate Cross-Country championship after only
three months of skiing! (When he joined the U. S.
Army ski troops, he was assigned to Alaska to teach
Eskimos to ski.)
MUIR KNOLL JUMPING TOURNAMENTS DREW CROWDS IN
THE 30'S AND POSTWAR YEARS, UNTIL PROGRESS PUT A
PARKING LOT BELOW THE JUMP IN 1947.
  In 1940-41 the team took 85 places above tenth in
20 meets, 15 places in national championships and
eight places in central division meets of the U. S. Ski
association.
  Reuben Silvola, student coach of the team, ordered
his skiers to row the crew training shell to keep their
arms in shape. They skied on dry leaves before the
snow fell. ("It's mighty hard on the skis, but excellent
training for the legs," Silvola told the Cardinal, which
reported that his team members could do a standing
jump over a five-foot fence while wearing skis, after
they completed the training course, if they lived to com-
plete the training course.)
  World War II brought the University's ski impetus
                                                   9


Go up to Top of Page