S. Joseph Quinney
Hall of Fame Class of 1975
Information submitted in a nomination letter to the U.S. National Ski Hall of Fame by Will Pickett, Editor, Alta Powder News, Alta, Utah.
Joe Quinney was a ski sport builder and public-spirited citizen whose reputation has been felt in the ski world for more than half a century.
Born in 1892 in Logan, Utah to English-Swiss parents, S. Joseph Quinney came to be known as “Mr. Ski Business” to his law associates and members of the business community. His promotion of the sport covered a span of more than 50 years. This was the period in which ski pioneers successfully bridged the promotion gap between the old days of carrying long wooden skis up an endless mountain to a complex of high speed chairlifts carrying thousands daily to their favorite runs high on the mountains.
Following graduation from Utah State Agricultural College in Logan, Quinney obtained his law degree from Harvard University. In 1921, he was elected to the Utah House of Representatives where he achieved an understanding of Utah’s land laws as they applied to the area’s largest landholder, the U.S. Forest Service. Little did he know that forty years later he would be in almost daily contact with the Forest Service as he attempted to resolve such matters as avalanche control, placements of ski lifts, parking facilities, permits for new lifts and building construction, water, roads, trees and even rocks.
In the mid-1920s, Quinney began driving his young son and the boy’s friends to nearby canyons which they climbed and skied down. Unwilling to remain a spectator, Quinney purchased skis and joined them. Eventually Joe Quinney would introduce thousands of other aficionados of the sport.
Prior to the Olympic tryouts in March, 1935, Joe Quinney helped promote and judge the state amateur ski tournament which was sanctioned by the U.S. Western Amateur Ski Association, a member of the National Ski Association.
The Olympic tryouts were held on the twentieth anniversary of the founding of the Utah Ski Club, at which Joe Quinney chaired the reception committee. On hand to judge the Olympic tryouts was Julius Blegen, a former jumper and Hall of Famer #47, for whom the NSA would name its Blegen trophy.
In addition to chairing the Utah Ski Club from 1935 to 1938, Quinney served as the club’s long-term secretary-treasurer and Board of Trustees member for many years. According to Alf Engen, Quinney was the nation’s leading authority on everything connected with snow and skiing.
In 1939, a group of Salt Lake City promoters organized a corporation which, under a Forest Service permit, would construct a ski lift and related facilities. To fulfill its commitments, the Forest Service agreed to keep the canyon open, control avalanches and grant permits to the company as further lifts, tows and related facilities were needed. Joe Quinney became a founder of the Alta Ski Area.
In 1967, Joe Quinney was the recipient of the Winter Sports Award of the Salt Lake Area Chamber of Commerce. The citation reads as follows: “In grateful appreciation for outstanding support and personal endeavor in the furthering of winter sports. Quinney’s main interest had been to provide a place for jumpers to jump and for skiers to ski. He remained firm in his conviction that skiing shouldn’t become “the rich man’s sport.” Consequently, he opposed increases in the costs of skiing unless they became necessary to cover lift operations.
The $10 million structure that opened in July, 2002 and served as a media center for the Salt Lake Winter Olympics that year was named the Joe Quinney Winter Sports Center in honor of a man considered to be the father of Utah’s ski industry.
S. Joseph Quinney was elected to the U.S. National Ski Hall of Fame in 1975.
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