As part of its preparation for the next three booming months in skiing, which give every indication of being the biggest in history, SI presented three weeks ago Skiing in Europe: a review of the areas, resorts and events on the continent by the man most qualified to write it, Sir Arnold Lunn. Although his name may not be familiar to all our readers, none is better known in international ski circles; and this has been so for more than 40 years of his campaign to spread the fun and raise the standard of skiing wherever there is snow and ski boot fits binding.
Sir Arnold is responsible for an imposing list of firsts in skiing, but probably his most important contribution came out of his relentless fight for the recognition of downhill racing and slalom as legitimate forms of ski activity. In 1921 and 1922 he himself drew up the first rules for these events.
He regarded the downhill, rather than the cross country (or up-and downhill) of Scandinavian heritage, as the logical race for Alpine terrain, arguing simply that "the best way to test downhill skiing is to race downhill." He was also outspokenly convinced that the modern slalom, which he developed, emphasizing speed and proficiency, was a better challenge to skill than the old one in which skiers were judged on the controversial elements of grace and style.
Among the many protectors of skiing traditions in the '20s these ideas did not go down as swiftly and smoothly as skis on packed snow. But they eventually prevailed. In 1930 the Federation Internationale de Ski officially recognized downhill and slalom; in 1936 these became standard events in the Winter Olympics, where Sir Arnold has ever since presided over the running of the slalom; and today the great skiing competitions everywhere fall into four divisions: jumping, cross country, downhill racing and slalom.
With Hannes Schneider, in 1928, Sir Arnold organized the Arlberg Kandahar, the first international open combined downhill-slalom race, which now has become the blue ribbon event of Alpine skiing. Only two weeks ago he stopped off at SI's offices before leaving for M√ºrren, where he will spend the winter and on March 11, 12 supervise the 20th running of the Arlberg Kandahar. He had just ended two and one half months of lectures to various ski clubs in this country and was straight from a luncheon meeting with the New York Amateur Ski Club where, as active as ever at 66, he was exploring the possibility of establishing in 1956 a New England Kandahar.
It's a pleasant thought that we may soon have in this country a new race in the best tradition of skiing—and surely a fitting honor to the man whose name is so large a part of that tradition.