Winter Fun: Snow Sports in America

By Nicky M. | Arcadia Staff

When cold weather finally arrives for the winter months, many families search for ways to stay active in the cold. From ice skating to cross country skiing, there’s no shortage of fun to be had in the snow. As Jack Frost approaches the Midwest this week, we’re sharing some of our favorite photos of winter activities across the country.

Ski jumper Odd Hirsheim begins a jump off the ramp at Bear Mountain State ParkA popular sport during the 20th century, ski jumping was especially loved in the Catskill region of New York. In this photo, ski jumper Odd Hirsheim begins a jump off the ramp at Bear Mountain State Park. Bear Mountain welcomed ski jumpers from 1928 to 1990, and in 1962 hosted the New York State Junior Ski Jumping Championship.





















Reprinted from Skiing in the Catskill Region by George V. Quinn (pg. 10, Arcadia Publishing, 2013).

Chris Karol snowboards with Vermont’s Burton team.Snowboarding has evolved tremendously from its early days in the 1960s, when the first snowboard was invented by a father. Today, it’s an Oympic and Paralympic sport, and one of the most popular winter outdoor activities in the country. In this photo, Chris Karol snowboards with Vermont’s Burton team.















Reprinted from Snowboarding in  Southern Vermont: From Burton to the US Open by Brian L. Knight, courtesy of Hubert Schriebl (pg. 28, The History Press, 2018).

An aerial photo of Beech Mountain.For many ski towns, the winter season is a major boost to local business and the economy. This is especially true for Beech Mountain, which proudly proclaims its status as the highest town above sea level in the country. At a height of 5,505 feet, Beech Mountain has been inhabited since the 1800s, but was only incorporated as a town in 1981. It has remained a popular skiing destination for professionals and amateurs alike.








































Reprinted from Beech Mountain by The Beech Mountain Historical Society, courtesy of Ken Ketchie (pg. 44, Arcadia Publishing, 2009).

World Champion Ice Dancers Shae-lynn Bourne and Victor Kraatz perform in the 1997 Lake Placid Coronation show.Dating back thousands of years, figure skating has been a major American sport for centuries. In areas like Lake Placid, ice and figure skating takes centerstage over skiing and snowboarding, and the small New York town is considered a mecca for figure skating enthusiasts. In this photo, World Champion Ice Dancers Shae-lynn Bourne and Victor Kraatz perform in the 1997 Lake Placid Coronation show.






































Reprinted from Lake Placid Figure Skating: A History by Christie Sausa, courtesy of Natalia Dubova (pg. 104, The History Press, 2012).

A group of novice showshoeers practicing at Bear MountainAlthough snowshoeing hasn’t attained the same status as skiing or snowboarding, it has remained a popular diversion amongst enthusiasts, especially since the redesign of the traditional snowshoe in the mid-20th century. In fact, many schools throughout the American northeast include snowshoeing in their physical education curriculum. This photo shows a group of novice showshoeers practicing at Bear Mountain, where shoeshows have been available to visitors since 1922.


















Reprinted from Bear Mountain by Ronnie Clark Coffey (pg. 96, Arcadia Publishing, 2008).

A group of skiers hikes up one of the Catskill mountains.Before most mountains had ski lifts, skiers would need to hike up the mountain to their starting points. In this 1920s postcard from the Catskills, a group can be seen beginning their trek up the mountain. The modern ski lift wouldn’t be invented until the 1930s in Idaho, and wouldn’t reach across to Europe until 1940.















Reprinted from Skiing in the Catskill Region by George V. Quinn (pg. 9, Arcadia Publishing, 2013).

Fred Brand of the Western State Hiking and Outing club riding a toboggan in 1932.Although most think of sledding as a winter activity for kids today, it was once used for long-range transport by the native peoples of northern Canada. Sometimes known as a toboggan, they’ve also been used during emergent rescue operations in the snow. Here, Fred Brand of the Western State Hiking and Outing club is riding a toboggan in 1932.

















Reprinted from Crested Butte by Duane Vandenbusche, Crested Butte Mountain Resort, Credted Butte Mountain Heritage Museum, and the Gunison Pioneer Museum (pg. 76, Arcadia Publishing, 2011).

The Boston University hockey team faces off against Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s team in the 1940s.Perhaps the most nationally popular winter sport, ice hockey has achieved status within pop culture outside of cold weather months. Between the National Hockey League (NHL) and college teams, there are over 90 hockey teams nationwide. The sport is widely known for its sometimes violent brawls. In this photo, the Boston University hockey team faces off against Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s team in the 1940s.


















Reprinted from Boston University Hockey  by Bernard M. Corbett (pg. 17, Arcadia Publishing, 2002).

Snowmobilers attending an organzied “power sled meet” in Lake Placid, New York.Although not widely thought of as a sport, snowmobiling is a serious recreational activity for those who ride. Invented in 1935, a snowmobile is a motorized sled, typically used for distance travel. Despite their convenience, snowmobiles have been regarded as quite dangerous, and their rates of injuries and fatalities are typically much higher than regular road traffic. Despite these risks, snowmobilers often taken part in snowmobile racing. The snowmobilers in this photo are attending an organzied “power sled meet” in Lake Placid, New York.













Reprinted from Historic Tales from the Adirondack  Almanac by John Warren (pg. 64, This History Press, 2009).

Recreational skiiers ride the ski lift built in 1937 at Mount Hood National Forest.While it’s largely a recreational sport today, skiing dates back as early as 6000 BCE, and was originally used as a means of transportation. The sport has evolved to include many different variations, including alpine (or downhill) skiing, cross country skiing, and telemark. Several of these types are incorporated in the competitions at the Winter Olympic Games, including some specialty sports like ski jumping and speed skiing. Here, recreational skiiers ride the ski lift built in 1937 at Mount Hood National Forest.


















Reprinted from Mount Hood National Forest by Cheryl Hill (pg.  83, Arcadia Publishing, 2014).