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Nels Nelsen

Hall of Fame Class of 1971

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Promoting ski sport in Western Canada, Nels Nelsen helped contribute to the sport’s growth in North America. An advocate of pure amateurism all his life, Nels Nelsen did his best to keep both the Canadian Amateur Ski Association and the National Ski Association strictly amateur organizations.

Nels Nelsen was a top-rated jumper in the 1920’s. A native of Revelstoke, British Columbia, Canada, Nels set a world distance record of 240 feet on the hill at Revelstoke in 1925. Nelsen competed in ski jumping meets all over North America during the twenties including the National Ski Association National Jumping Tournaments at Brattleboro, Vermont in 1924 and Denver, Colorado in 1927.

Nelsen was very active in the affairs of the Canadian Amateur Ski Association form its inception in 1921 and his influence extended into the states of Washington and Oregon. A strict amateur all his life, Nels supported amateurism within the National Ski Association.

Nels was coach and teacher of skiing in the British Columbia and Quebec provinces, always as an amateur with his love of young people being his only incentive. He was very much against the professional ranks as they were set up within the National Ski Association because he recognized that it would tear the association apart if it continued unchecked.

Nels Nelsen was a positive influence on skiing in Western Canada and the Western United States even before the founding of the Pacific Northwest Ski Association. When the Pacific Northwest Ski Association was formed in 1930, its constitution was based on some of his rules.

Nelsen and his friend and fellow jumper, Ragnar Omtveldt, representing the Norge Ski Club of Chicago, worked together with the Canadian Amateur Ski Association to construct the big hill at the Mount Revelstoke National Park which was later named in the honor of Nels Nelsen.

Nels Nelsen died in 1943 at the age of forty-nine in Revelstoke. Although his enthusiasm was sorely missed, his innovations and influence on skiing remain to this day. He was a true sportsman in every sense of the word. Nels was a most popular ski athlete and ski sport builder, perhaps Canada’s most influential.

For his service to skiing on both sides of the border, Nels Nelsen was elected to the U.S. National Ski Hall of Fame in 1971.

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