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Edna Dercum

Hall of Fame Class of 1991

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Edna Dercum was a top skier in downhill, slalom and giant slalom. She also became an author and a coach.

Edna Dercum was born in Clarissa, Minnesota in 1914. In 1937, she married Max Dercum. The following year, 1938, Edna raced in the California State Downhill and Slalom Championships. In 1939, she was informed by Margaret J. Neyland, Secretary of the U.S.E.A.S.A. that she qualified for the Olympic Tryouts at Mt. Hood, Oregon.

Moving to State College, Pennsylvania in the fall of 1938, (where husband Max was coach of the Penn State Ski Team and a professor of forestry), Edna organized and was race chairman of the first Pennsylvania State Championships. In 1940 and 1941, she was Pennsylvania State Women’s Downhill and Slalom Champion.

In 1942, she wrote the story, “Forestry Goes Skiing” about the Forest Service’s roll in ski development. This was published by the Pennsylvania Forestry Association in Forest Leaves magazine.

Following World War II, Max and Edna moved to Colorado with son Rolf, age 3, and daughter Sunni, age 2. During the summer of 1946, Edna fed and housed (in the original Ski Tip Lodge cabin) the crew working on the trails and lifts at Arapahoe Basin. From 1948 to 1952, Edna was elected Summit County Clerk and Recorder. She taught children to ski at Breckenridge College during this time. Three of these children were chosen to compete in the National Junior Ski Championships.

Edna organized and was president of Arapahoe Ski Club in 1947 and became a fully-certified ski instructor and received her Class “A” race card in 1952. She taught in the Willy Schaeffler Ski School at Arapahoe Basin, Colorado for the next 18 years.

In 1953, Edna placed among the first 10 women in the National Downhill, Slalom and Giant Slalom Championships held at Aspen, Colorado. She was 39 years old at that time. She placed second to Skeeter Werner in the May Day Slalom, Women’s Class “A” at Arapahoe Basin, Colorado and 2nd in the first National Women’s Senior (now Masters) Giant Slalom, also in 1953.

In 1963 through 1965, Edna was chairman of Rocky Mountain Division Women’s Race Committee and succeeded in forming an Elite Class “A” for woman racers.

From 1955 to 1989, Edna won or placed in the first 3 places of the following races: The Taos Cup, the Class “A” Giant Slalom at Winter Park, Colorado, the Class “A” Open Giant Slalom and the Loveland Basin Grand Prox.

From 1938 through 1989, Edna won over 75 gold medals, not including combined trophies, in both Class “A” races and National and International Masters Downhills, Slaloms, Giant Slaloms and Super Giant Slaloms.

In 1980, Edna was inducted into the Colorado Ski Hall of Fame. From 1980 through 1989, she raced in the International Masters Race in Italy, Switzerland, Austria, Germany, Spain, France and the U.S. She won the International Women’s Masters Criterium World Cup with the exception of 1988 when she was second, losing to a French racer, Francinette Chotard. During this time, Edna also raced in National Masters Races in Mt. Alyeska, Alaska; McCall, Idaho; Aspen, Colorado; Jackson Hole, Wyoming; Big Sky, Montana and M. Batchelor, Oregon.

In 1981, Edna wrote and published the book: It’s easy Edna, it’s downhill all the way, a story of ski pioneering in the high country of Colorado. This is also a story of Edna and Max’s building and operating one of the first and oldest ski lodges in Colorado, known as the Ski Tip Ranch. Ski Tip Lodge was the site of meetings founding Keystone Ski Area, now one of the leading ski areas in the United States.
Edna was the oldest active woman ski racer in the world and was named to the U.S. Masters Ski Team for 1990.

Edna Dercum was elected to the U.S. National Ski Hall of Fame in 1991.

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