Following the 1950 FIS World Championships in Aspen, journalist and Alta Ski Area founder James Laughlin took to the papers to write a compelling review of the U.S. team’s performance. It’s a glaring — and somewhat comical — reminder that the topic of fundamental skill development in the U.S. is certainly nothing new.

A natural athlete and avid skier himself, Laughlin offered his perspective of the men’s performance and proposed recommendations to enhance results and drive development. 


“Day after day our boys, who had skied so well in training, fell all over themselves and finished far down the list,” said Laughlin. “If we want to produce winners in future FIS and Olympic meetings we must train them in Europe where they can race every weekend against runners better than themselves and learn by doing so.”

The review takes blame away from the athletes and coaches for their performance at the 1950 World Championships, but instead challenges a broader perspective that limits development of skiers, including financial barriers to enter the sport. (Sound familiar?) Laughlin also proposed an increased focus on collegiate racing over racing in Europe. (Deja vu?)

“Since America has more colleges in the snow belt than the rest of the world combined, why don’t we abandon big time international racing and concentrate on building up a really active and far reaching program of intercollegiate skiing?”

As they did in 1950, we will continue to address many of these issues in our ongoing development series.

Editor’s note: This story is part of our ongoing series on alpine development in North America. Have some thoughts on this? Send a letter to the editor. If it’s good, we’ll publish it.


  1. Brilliant, Karina! Not sure where you found this article, but it is a true gem and really puts U.S. ski racing development in perspective. Let’s keeping exploring and talking, and we’ll find the right path for the U.S. Well done!


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