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Aksel Holter

Hall of Fame Class of 1956

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Aksel Holter was drawn into the movement to form a national ski organization and was one of the organizers of the National Ski Association. He served as its secretary from its birth until 1919. It is said that the fledging NSA would have foundered in its infancy had it not been for Holter’s tireless devotion.

Aksel Holter was born in Oslo, Norway in 1873 and immigrated to the United States as a young boy, settling first in Saint Paul, Minnesota and later in Ishpeming, Michigan. Holter joined the Norden Ski Club, later to be renamed as the Ishpeming Ski Club.

Holter worked closely with Carl Tellefsen who was considered the “Father of Ski Sport in America” and George Newett, publisher of the newspaper Iron Ore. Holter considered the year 1900 as the year ski sport was reborn. For a period of ten years prior to this, organized competitive skiing had been all but forgotten. Ishpeming had its share of top local ski runners including Charles Dudley, Olaf Holemo, Conrad Thompson, Tom Lokken, Peter Handberg, the Trosvig brothers, Tom Walters, the Hoyseths (father and son), Ole and Albert Oas and Simon Wahlman. In 1901, members of the Redwing Ski Club were invited to join the Ishpeming skiers as guests to stage an exhibition. It was very successful and the seed for rebirth had been sown.

Aksel Holter was one of seven men from Ishpeming who met in Carl Tellefsen’s office in February, 1904 to discuss organizing a national body. The following year the National Ski Association was born with Tellefsen the first president and Aksel Holter its first secretary. Holter remained as the national Ski Association secretary until 1919. Without his timeless devotion to the organization, the NSA would have almost certainly foundered in its infancy. Skiers in Ishpeming in 1906 nearly caused the NSA to fold. Holter also served as the editor of the first American Ski Annual journals.

In 1905 Holter moved to Ashland, Wisconsin where he encouraged skiing in that area and was instrumental in establishing a ski manufacturing facility.

Holter founded the Ashland Hiking Girl’s Club for his daughter and her friends. It became one of Ashland’s outstanding organizations, emphasizing high physical, moral and spiritual values – the three primary forces in his life. He continued to be active as a ski instructor and judge.

Aksel Holter died in Ashland in 1950 and was elected to the U.S. National Ski Hall of Fame in 1956.

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