Hall of Fame Class of 1966
Erling Heistad’s ski teams were legendary in New England. A strong advocate of safety and conditioning, his high school skiers competed well against the best college skiers in New England.
Erling Heistad of Lebanon, New Hampshire was a small man physically but a mighty giant in skiing development. Born in Tonsberg, Norway in 1897 the “Father of Lebanon Skiing” came to New England at the age of 15.
In his lifetime Heistad possibly did as much as anyone in New England to develop enthusiasm for the outdoors and especially for skiing. In his time, this quiet “Norske”, as rugged as the native terrain of his homeland, developed some of the country’s foremost skiers and coaches and sent them to colleges as top athletes in all four skiing sports: slalom, downhill, jumping and cross-country. They set records that reflected his teachings. It was said that any of the boys who made Heistad’s Lebanon High School’s first team could easily make a varsity college team. For nine straight years his Lebanon High ski teams won the coveted Triple Crown in Eastern school circles. During the 25-year reign as a successful coach not one of his skiers suffered a fracture in interscholastic competition.
Heistad was a firm believer in safety. He kept his skiers in top shape year round by making them work on ski trails and ski jumps from the first sign of fall until winter set in,
A mechanical engineer, the small, wiry Heistad designed and supervised, without charge, the building of thirteen ski jumps (seven of them in Lebanon). Others included those at the university of Vermont, Holderness School and New Hampton School. He also designed the steel structure erected in 1954 by the Lebanon Improvement Society and dedicated to him.
This rugged Norwegian believed that all of his skiers should be proficient in alpine and classic nordic events. On one occasion his high school team was invited to compete in the Lake Placid College Week Games. Although they finished behind Dartmouth and Middlebury, they might have won easily had the ski jump event not been called off.
He was active on the Eastern Committee to run a school for amateur ski instructors, served on the National, Eastern and New Hampshire State Junior Committees, was a national and eastern jumping judge and officiated at the 1960 Olympics in Squaw Valley.
Erling Heistad was elected to the U.S. National Ski Hall of Fame in 1966. On January 23, 2005 the Lebanon Outing Club celebrated the 108th birthday of its founder with ski jumping on 10, 25 and 50 meter hills. It was the realization of his vision that each child in Lebanon would have a small jump within walking distance of home.
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