On many occasions Stanley Nielson, Lou Gjosund & I would ski back into the hills as far back as Ptarmigan Head and spend several days, sometimes more than a week, just skiing around. We'd hunt some ptarmigan to help with our grub supply. We'd stop and ski on some interesting hill for awhile then when evening came we would cut down a bushy tree about 4 feet above the ground leaving the trunk fastened to the stump. Then cut the branches off on the underside; put them on top for insulation. Then dig the snow out as much a possible and build a small fire near the stump so the heat would reflect into what would be our home for the night or maybe a few nights. If it wasn't large enough for three we'd build another hovel like it. Then some time later we might use one we'd made earlier. Some times there would be only two of us.

Later on, after Bert Bachman came to Homer, we skied together quite a lot, sometimes hunting moose and packing it out or hunting ptarmigan or just skiing around. Bert, his wife Helen and my family would ski, by moonlight, in the fields near McLay Road, then we would go get a bite to eat and play Canasta till wee hours of the morning, then the neli evening do it all over again.

When Jim and Elva Scott came to Homer; Bert and I got Jim started to skiing.

Jim was a "died-in-the-wool" snowshoer and we would argue the advantages of each

till I finally challenged him to a contest. I would follow him for an hour then he would follow me for an hour, and Jim gladly agreed. After me following him for nearly an hour, going through some of the toughest Jim could find, he said, ''I'm convinced".

Of course some of the things we put Jim through those first trips on skis I'm not sure Jim wouldn't have rather been back on snowshoes, but he stuck it out and finally became a skier.

The skis I used were one of the two pair of skis Pa Svedlund gave me he'd made of birch. They were really great for cross-country but not very good on the turns because

they were nine feet long and very flexible. The bindings was a toe strap and a piece of belting screwed to the ski, running back under the foot, with a wide piece of leather sew~ to the belting so your heel fit right into it with a strap to hold your food on it. It gave flexibility up and down but only "somewhat" controlled the side movement.

It was not possible to make any fast turns so if the need arose to turn sharply or stop, one just fell down. Gradual turns were accomplished by using the telemark turn.

Later I broke one of the skis so I reshaped the tip, turned it up and made a 6-foot ski out of it. When my wife, Mid, started skiing she had to use a 9 foot ski and the 6 foot ski because I didn't want to cut one of the other ones off because I might break another one and sure enough I did, so then she had two six foot ones. She was again happy.

Later I ripped the 6 foot pair down to make a pair of cross cut racing skis for my boys by taking a pair of their old shoes, cutting holes in the top at the toes so I could reach through and screw the sole to the ski. This gave them flexibility but rigidity from side to side. We couldn't afford to buy manufactured outfit. The Anchorage skiers laughed till the Homer boys took home 9 out of 12 trophies. Woody won the State Championship Cross-Country with those skis.

    With the advent of ski racing, brought on by such notables as Frank Darnell and Ernie Bauman, Homer began to get notoriety for its skiing in the State and Nationally.

Skiers such as Woodie & Val McLay, Don & Ray Bellamy, Sally Flynn, Cathy Riorden, Johnnie Collie, Lee Martin & Betty Gjosund paving the way and skiers like Robbie Hoedel, Bobbie Moss, Bert McLay, Larry "Tad" Martin, and others carrying it on. Some of these made it to the Jr. Nationals, such as Woodie 3 times, Val once, Sally once, Bobbie 3 times, Bert 3 times, and of course Larry went on to the Olympic team. Bringing great honor and recognition to Homer. Woodie won the State alpine3 times, Bert won the State alpine once and Larry won the State cross country.

It takes a lot of work and dedication, from both the parents and the school, to make a real competitive ski racer. I recall some of the things we done to help the racers. For instance I would leave my house, with my three boys, pick up Bobbie & Cris Moss and Robbie Hoedel and take them to the top of East hill. Bob Moss would leave his place and drive to my place, when I picked up his kids. The boys would race down the hill to my house where Bob would pick them up and take them back up the hill while I was coming back down. Then I would take them back up the hill and on the end of their third run they would catch the bus for school.

In the evening they would then go to the ski tow where they would practice slalom till dark. Before snowfall, after school, they would take their ski poles, go up on the hillside and run through, dodging the trees, to build muscles and quickness.

After the school dropped the alpine racing program the alpine racing seem to just die out.

“Jake” John H. McLay