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Carroll P. Reed

Hall of Fame Class of 2002

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Information submitted in a nomination letter to the U.S. National Ski Hall of Fame by Kimberly Beals.

While skiing the Wildcat Trail near Jackson, New Hampshire, Carroll Reed broke his back. His doctor told him he’d probably never walk again as he was paralyzed from the waist down. However, after five months of recuperation in a hospital, he was able to walk aided by crutches. It was during this time that he came up with the idea of establishing a ski school.

Coming from a family of modest means, Carroll Reed was working in Boston when he took his first ski trip to the White Mountains in the early 1930s. In 1933, he and fellow ski enthusiasts formed a ski club, the White Mountain Ski Runners. In the winter of 1934, Reed honed his skiing skills on the crude ski trails and farm pastures that dotted the Eastern Slope Region. Schussing on the notorious Wildcat Ski Trail in Jackson, New Hampshire in April, 1934, the 29 year old Reed had the misfortune of wrapping himself around a tree in a ski accident that broke his back but not his love of the sport.

Paralyzed from the waist down, he was literally pieced back together by a doctor who all but told him he’d never walk again. He spent nearly five months in the hospital recuperating before he was able to walk out, aided by crutches. While bedridden, he read a year-old copy of Appalachia about the famous Hannes Schneider Ski School in Anton, Austria. Intrigued, he began to think about ways to establish a ski school in the North Conway area. By summer, 1936, plans for an Eastern Slope Ski School jelled. With the approval of Hannes Schneider himself, one of his prime instructors, Benno Rybizka arrived in Jackson in December, 1936 to direct it.

Late in 1936, Saks Fifth Avenue opened a ski shop in Jackson. Reed was hired to run it. It was short lived and Reed took over the inventory in 1937 and opened a shop in the same location under his own name. In order to finance the ski school, Carroll approached every innkeeper in the valley, asking for donations of $1.00 per room. For that investment, member hotels were able to offer guests discounted lessons at the ski school. That first winter was almost snowless, yet his school gave 600 lessons. Innkeepers saw a potentially disastrous winter turn out better than hoped for.

Carroll Reed had told Harvey Dow Gibson, North Conway native and New York financier about his upcoming ski school. Gibson set out to remake North Conway into a ski resort. Later, Gibson bought the ski school from Reed and offered it to Hannes Schneider whom he had rescued from house arrest in Germany and brought to North Conway in 1939. Gibson paid Reed $25.00 weekly for five years, freeing him to concentrate on his growing ski shop business. It eventually grew into the Carroll Reed chain, located throughout the country.

Carroll Reed, despite his disability, had a vision and imagination to establish that seminal ski school and a most successful string of ski shops. With the support of influential individuals, his vision became a reality.

Carroll P. Reed was elected to the U.S. National Ski Hall of Fame in 2002.

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