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Ralph DesRoches

Hall of Fame Class of 1977

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Information submitted by J.H. Carruthers, Chairman, Historical Committee.

Flamboyant is not the adjective for the biography of Doc DesRoches; steady, stalwart, dedicated, reliable and efficient, yes.

Ralph “Doc” DesRoches’ entire life was actively devoted to skiing and the advancement of the ski sport in general. There are a number of United States F.I.S. and Olympic Ski Teams who owe DesRoches for his getting them to their competitions. Fundraising for the United States Ski Team, however, was only one of his many facets.

Born in Mexico, Maine in 1916, Doc started his ski career with a two-year stint on the high school ski team. From 1939-1943, his talents on the boards were such that he earned a Class “A” rating as a competitor in downhill, cross-country and combined at the University of New Hampshire.

It was at the UNH that DesRoches’ fundraising talents began to bloom. He headed the Campus Chest Drive for two years and it went over the top during this time. Seventeen years later (1960), Doc would undertake to raise $140,000 for the development program of the U.S. Ski Team. The result was $140,000 and the beginning of a serious assault by the U.S. Ski Team on international competition.

Like many ardent skiers of the early 1940s, he gravitated to the 10th Mountain Division and then located at Camp Hale, Colorado, but injuries kept him from going overseas. He would finish out his service as ski instructor at the re-distribution center at Lake Placid.

After the war, Doc settled seriously into the ski business, becoming head of the ski school and ski shop at Laurel Mountain, Ligonier, Pennsylvania. In those early days of uncertain supply and equally uncertain demand, he found himself overstocked with hats. The he discovered a store in Cleveland overstocked with skis. He must have proved himself between 1945 and 1957 as in 1957 he became president of Laurel Mountain Slopes, a post he held until leaving to become executive secretary of the Ski Industries of America in 1963.

Threaded through these years was a constant, active role in the various associations, both amateur and professional, which represent the ski sport. It started with him becoming a member of the Eastern Ski Association in 1934 and led to a directorship from 1959-1965. The association valued his service and voted him a Lifetime Honorary Director in 1965.

The list of his service associations are many: board of directors of the USSA, 1962-1967; press liaison for the U.S. Ski Team at Val Gardena, Italy, 1970; the Olympic Team in Sapporo, 1972 and Honorary Life Member of Rocky Mountain Ski Association, 1975.

Perhaps more importantly has been DesRoches’ ability to be acceptable at all elements of the sport. He remained a member of the Professional Ski Instructors Association and was charter member #6. He was also a charter member of the National Ski Area Association from 1959 (its inception) to the time he joined Ski Industries of America in 1963. As executive secretary of Ski Industries of America, he was instrumental in bringing the manufacturers and retailers closer together in a more orderly manner through the vehicle of trade shows. These original trade shows in a number of locations have since been consolidated into one giant show in Las Vegas. Here manufacturers show their wares to the retail buyers. In all, Doc rose to the unenviable, unofficial post of “Let’s Ask Doc About It.” Writer, Paul Hanenberg wrote in 1966, “If anybody can claim to the title of Mr. Skiing in the USA, Ralph A. DesRoches is the man.”

Finally, there is a human facet which should not be overlooked. Together with his wife, Toby, they had a fulfilling, rewarding and sometimes hectic family life and raised four fine children: Laurel, Becky, Aimee and Alec, a life accomplishment in itself.

Ralph A. “Doc” DesRoches was elected to the U.S. National Ski Hall of Fame in 1977.

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