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Edmund Couch, Jr.

Hall of Fame Class of 1976

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Information submitted in a nomination letter to the U.S. National Ski Hall of Fame by Bill Berry, USSA Historian.

Ed Couch fell in love with ski jumping at an early age. His contributions to ski sport range from tow-strap beginnings as a seven-year-old in the Colorado snows of 1913 to international renown as a designer of ski jumping hills.

Ed Couch, Jr. was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1906 and traveled west with his parents when his father was transferred to Pike National Forest in Colorado as a ranger. The elder couch made a pair of skis to get around the grounds and young Ed realized that skiing was fine entertainment in this rather desolate area. Couch entered the University of Denver and skied for the ski team for two years. Then he moved on to the University of Wisconsin and competed in jumping in the National Ski Association’s Central Division. After he graduated in 1934, Couch continued his jumping career. He became a jumping judge and ski hill designer. Steamboat Springs’ Howelsen Hill was one of Couch’s early designs, which incorporated jumps of 300 feet and more.

Ed Couch drew up preliminary plans for the Ski Flying Hill at Ironwood, Michigan in 1946 but it was decided that American jumpers were not ready for jumps of 450 feet and more. When the “big hill” became a reality in 1972, Couch executed the final design for the project where national teams from the U.S. and Canada vied against skiers from all the other F.I.S. nations. The sport of ski jumping has come a long way since the 1930s and 1940s. Jumps designed by Ed Couch dot the landscapes of Wisconsin, Minnesota, Colorado and elsewhere. The sport was well served when he became a certified ski judge in the Central and Eastern Amateur Divisions, receiving national card no. 9 as a credit to the NSA and USSA.

Other highlights of Ed’s career include:

• After completing military service in 1947, returned to Office, Chief of Army Engineers, Washington, D.C. and immediately resumed active participation on the divisional and national engineering committees.
• Joined the Ski Club of Washington in 1947, served as president for two terms. Elected honorary member for work in developing ski areas in the Washington, D.C. vicinity.
• Designated an F.I.S. judge in 1948 by NSA president, Arthur Barth.
• Chief ski jump designer for the Denver Olympic Committee.
• Worked on the original reconnaissance for Squaw Valley in 1957 and directed the final planning review in 1958.

Couch retired as an internationally recognized ski jumping hill designer. He advanced through the ranks as a competitor to chair of the USSA’s Ski Hill Engineering Committee.

Edmund Couch was elected to the U.S. National Ski Hall of Fame in 1976.

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