The Club’s history parallels the birth of Alpine Skiing. Like the sport itself, the founders of our club began skiing in the Alps and brought the sport back with them. The club’s history is modestly recorded in our book Fifty Winters.
The club was founded under the guidance of Roland Palmedo in April of 1931 ”to promote skiing by a congenial group of amateurs living in and around New York City.” It was the second downhill ski club formed in the United States. There were 71 members for the 1931-32 season. That first season the exploratory governors discovered Stowe, Vermont, which was reachable by train to Waterbury and then a ride on the 10-mile electric trolley into Stowe. There were no Ski Trails on Mansfield and the Toll Road was noted in the Club’s Ski Bulletin as being “not steep enough to afford a thrill to the expert downhill racer.” The notch road was reported “as a very good run.” All this three years before the rope tow appeared on the newly cleared Toll House slopes, and 6 years before the cutting of the Nosedive trail. It was the Amateur Ski Club that would create the first chairlift in Vermont at Stowe. When it opened in Dec. 1939, it was the longest chairlift in the World.
Members of the club including Roland Palmedo, Neagly Cooke, Lowell Thomas, and Jose Machado raised more than $100,000 to create the Lift Company. During the 1930s as alpine skiing was born as a sport, the club was in the vanguard. One of our members was killed racing upon the Ghost Trail in Pittsfield Massachusetts. This death prompted the club to form a Safety Committee head by Minot Dole of Greenwich. This committee and Minot went on to organize and form the National Ski Patrol. When World War Two broke out, Minot and other club members argued for and helped form the Army’s famous 10th Mt. Division.
A close friend of Roland’s, Alice Damrosch Kiaer, daughter of the conductor of the New York Symphony, was a winter resident of St. Anton Austria beginning in the late 1920’s. She was one of the original founders of the club and played a key role in creating an international Woman’s Ski Team. She opened her home in St. Anton to the girls for the 1934-35 season, and continued to serve as the women’s team manager through 1950. The first team was all Amateur Ski Club members, with Helen Boughton-Leigh, Betty Woolsey, Mary Bird, Sis McCain, and Faith Donaldson all racing in Europe and supported by the Club. The 1936 Olympics were the first winter games to include Alpine racing: Downhill and Slalom. Again the women’s team was almost entirely an ASC affair. Club member Hannah Locke joined the team and only Seattle’s Grace Carter was not ASC. Dartmouth men dominated the men’s team but the club’s Toni Page was the second best American Downhiller. Two winters later Toni and the Schwarzenbach brothers (Bobbie & Chris) composed the 1938 FIS team, making it an all ASC affair. The club funded the coaching for both the women and men’s teams, and in 1936, funded the Austrian Team as well, which would not have been able to participate without ASCNY financial support and funds from Sir Arnold Lunn’s Ski Club of Great Britain. Sir Arnold, who is credited with inventing the modern ski racing events of Slalom & Downhill, was a close friend of Roland and Alice Damrosch Kiaer, and an honorary lifetime member of our club.
Additionally Hannes Schneider of St. Anton, renowned as the father of Alpine Skiing, was made a lifetime honorary member. When the Nazis arrested him in 1938, our Roland and Alice, his close friends, helped arrange his escape with his family to America.
The club was peopled with many other notable Ski Pioneers. In fact ASC members won 10 national ski championships. The Roland Palmedo Cup still crowns the Champion of the New York Ski Council. David Judson started the Ski Bulletin as a hobby but it evolved into Skiing Magazine. The club boasts one of the great Ski Artists, landscape painter A. Sheldon Pennoyer who’s “Adelboden” adorns The Lunch Club on Wall Street. Our club members sold their interest in the Lift. Co. in Stowe in 1946. They then bought General Stark Mountain and created Mad River Glen as their new principle ski area. The Club member voted overwhelmingly in 1956 to locate and build our home lodge on land that the Mad River Ski Area gave them.