Wednesday, August 20, 2003
Leif Howelsen, one of the strongest links to the origins of Steamboat Spring's rich history in competitive skiing, will be the featured speaker Friday at the Tread of Pioneers Museum.
Howelsen is the son of the late Carl Howelsen, the Norwegian Army captain who established Steamboat's first Winter Carnival in 1914. Leif Howelsen also is the author of "The Flying Norseman," an account of his father's life in Nordic skiing.
In his late 70s, Leif Howelsen has lived a notable life worthy of a biography. While a teenager in Norway, his Alpine skiing career was interrupted by World War II. He aided the Norwegian resistance effort by smuggling shortwave radios into the countryside. He was betrayed by a friend and narrowly survived a Nazi prison.
Howelsen always has kept in touch with friends in Steamboat and frequently visits the little ski area named after his father during major ski jumping and Nordic combined competitions.
Carl Howelsen was a stonemason by profession and a champion skier in his native country. Born in 1877, he began competitive skiing at age 11 and later set a record for the 50-kilometer cross country ski event that stood for 20 years.
Howelsen immigrated to the United States in June 1905 and became instrumental in establishing a ski club in Chicago. He moved to Denver in 1909 to ply his chosen trade but couldn't deny his urge to promote skiing as a sport. He established a winter carnival in Hot Sulphur Springs before moving to Steamboat in 1913, remaining here until 1921.
Howelsen quickly inspired youngsters to take up ski jumping, and the sport blossomed.
"My father's vision was always that one day, all of the best skiers in the world would come and jump here," Howelsen said in a December 2001 interview. "That is the case now."
Tread of Pioneers Curator Candice Lombardo said Howelsen's talk is part of the museum's ongoing effort to collect oral histories and build a library of videotapes that will become part of the museum's research library.
The talk is at noon Friday, and admission is free.
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