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Robert L. (Barney) McLean

Hall of Fame Class of 1959

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Robert L. “Barney” McLean began as a ski jumper but soon switched to alpine ski disciplines and became one of America’s top ski racers of the 1940’s.

Robert Lloyd McLean, better known in the skiing world as “Barney”, was born in Lander, Wyoming in 1917. His father made him his first pair of skis when he was four.

In 1935 McLean won the National Class “B” Jumping Championships in Canton, South Dakota. Within a week he was moved up to class “A”. That same season he placed second at the Hot Sulphur Springs Winter Carnival jumping competition in Class “A”. He then placed sixth at tryouts for the 1936 Olympic jumping squad in Salt Lake City, Utah. However, a week after the tryouts he broke his leg in a jumping meet at Anaconda, Montana, thus spoiling his chances to make the Olympics Team in Germany.

His friends talked him into trying downhill and slalom racing. From that point on, jumping took a backseat. He won his first giant slalom at Berthoud Pass in 1937. In 1938, McLean placed tenth in the overall standings in the Harriman Cup Race and third in the Amateur Division. He finished seventh in the Harriman Cup Race and second to Dick Durrance in the Snow Cup Race.

His first major victory came in 1942 with the Jeffers Cup Race at Sun Valley, placing first in slalom, first in downhill and third in jumping to win the three-way combined. In the Eastern Downhill and Slalom Championships at Mount Mansfield, Vermont, he placed first in downhill and second in slalom. He was first in downhill and third in slalom for the combined and won the Harriman Cup. In 1942, the National Downhill and Slalom were held in Yosemite, California. Barney won the three national amateur crowns and tied for the Open Slalom, placing third in the open combined. He also won the Alta Cup in 1942.

In 1945, the Army flew him from Edmonton, Alberta, where he was stationed, to Utah to compete for the Alta Cup – which he won. At the National Championships in Franconia, New Hampshire Barney won the amateur and open alpine titles. That same year he won the first of the Roch Cup downhill races in Aspen. The Harriman Cup races were held at Sun Valley in 1947. Barney won the slalom, winning over the powerful Swiss Team that included Karl Molitor.

McLean was captain of the 1948 United States Olympic Ski Team and competed in the alpine events. The last international race was held in Pontresina, Switzerland before the Olympics. There he won the downhill, was third in the slalom and first in the combined. At the 1948 National Championships in Sun Valley, Barney was second in slalom and tied for second in the alpine combined. He was also second in the alpine combined at the National Championships in Whitefish, Montana.

He went on to coach the 1950 F.I.S. Team at the world Championships in Aspen, Colorado. He then moved to the Veteran’s Class, placing first in downhill at the National veterans’ Downhill and Slalom Championships at Aspen in 1956 and first in slalom at the Veterans’ Nationals at Sun Valley in 1958.

After retiring from competition, McLean became active in the Southern Rocky Mountain Ski Association, working with junior ski programs and course settings, including the men’s giant slalom course at the 1960 Olympics in Squaw Valley, California.

He was recognized by the International Legends of Skiing Hall of Fame in 1996 along with the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame and the Colorado Ski Hall of Fame. In addition, he was honored by Sports Illustrated magazine as one of Colorado’s top athletes of the century. “Barney” McLean was elected to the U.S. National Ski Hall of Fame in 1959.

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