Controlling the Skisport. In order to organize the skisport, it became necessary to set up a bureaucracy to standardize procedures and quantify statistics and to establish a process for making and keeping records to ensure historical accuracy and guarantee consistency. These facets of the modernizing process became increasingly apparent, then vital, for the control of the skisport. However, they were all comparatively unsophisticated and so comixed that an analysis of one aspect does some injustice to another.
Controlling the Skisport
Different specialist skills developed in spite of the continuing Scandinavian ideal of the all-round skier. As more people engaged in the sport, the production of equipment also became specialized. Manufacture began on a local level as an after-hours industry, but by the early years of the twentieth century a few factories were turning out thousands of pairs of skis annually. Through this period, the National Ski Association struggled to stay true to the tenets of its Norse-based philosophy, which ran counter to the new pressures of Americanization.
Efforts to Control the Skisport
Standardization could only be accomplished if a single bureaucratic organization had jurisdiction over the individual clubs. This need was addressed with the creation of the NSA in 1905. The five founding members, two clubs each from Minnesota and Michigan and one from Wisconsin, though geographically apart, were homogeneously ethnic, all from the Norse immigrant matrix. Members of one club often had a hand in founding another.
By 1907, the NSA comprised twenty-four clubs, with one, “The First Kingdom of the Ski,” as far away as Utica, New York. This New York club was a group of twenty amateurs whose whole attitude hardly had a Norse quality about it. The motto of the club was “Soc et Tuum,” and its skiing was an unsophisticated and entirely social affair. One member, C. H. Blair, obtained factory-made skis from the Northwest but discarded them ”because they [were] not suited to the more rough work we were used to” and he favored his own home-made variety.
Furthermore, as more and more middle-class skiers took up the sport (the First Kingdom’s membership included owners of second homes, a dentist, a retired textile executive, a lawyer, a furrier, physicians, and a state safety commissioner), the NSA, which still considered jumping to be the major attraction of skiing, seemed increasingly irrelevant to those for whom skiing was a sociable pastime. The First Kingdom’s members could quite happily admit that “hardly one of us could make a jump of twenty feet.”
The most important publication of the NSA was its journal, The Skisport. The first report listed the charter clubs and the elected officers along with giving news of committee work on the constitution and by-laws. There were twenty-two clubs with a total of 756 members ready for the 1906 season. This was an indication of the strength of the organization which, from time to time, had problems with disgruntled clubs (five formed an International Ski Association in 1912) and with the professionals.
Reporting on the second convention in 1906, The Skisport gave notice that prize money might be abolished. Rules were being drawn up “to govern all tournaments in the future.” The membership was assured that Ashland’s (Wisconsin) plans for the national tournament were well in hand and the secretary stated that the success of the tournament would mean “a great deal for the future of this the best of all winter sport