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October 22, 2013 | Tim Hauserman
As we get ready for winter, now’s a good time to curl up around the fire, nurse a hot beverage and read about our local ski history in the book “Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows – Tales from two valleys.” All Tahoe lovers will thank Eddy Starr Ancinas for taking us on a fascinating walk through the history of the creation of North Tahoe’s two favorite ski areas. Ancinas is a long time Tahoe local who met her husband Osvaldo Ancinas, then an Argentinian Ski Team member, while working at the 1960 Winter Olympics in Squaw Valley. She has skied and raised a family in the Squaw and Alpine area ever since, and for a number of years operated the Casa Andina ski shop at the base of Alpine Meadows Road.
The book tells the story of how a group of ski crazed individuals used determination, a lot of hard work, and a bit of luck, to create two world class ski areas. To stay afloat they had to deal with enormous winters which set off deadly avalanches (1982 in Alpine Meadows) and nearly non-existent winters, which led to the installation of snowmaking equipment, which has saved the areas a few times since then. They dealt with the catastrophe of the Squaw Valley Cable Car Accident, and the sad collapse of the Blythe skating arena, home of the 1960 Olympic Gold Medal hockey match. And of course, it’s always fun to relive the shenanigans of Alex Cushing.
I grew up in Tahoe City, so this book was a wonderful opportunity to be reminded of the colorful cast of characters that lived in our town in those heady days when the development of new ski areas was an exciting phenomena. It also gave me the chance to discover that while I was playing with my Squaw and Alpine friends named Hudson, Burkhardt, Rogers, Atwater, Evers, Poulsen, Klaussen and Onorato, their busy parents were on the ground floor of bringing Alpine Meadows and Squaw Valley to fruition.
Ancinas also captures the fascinating story of the proposed development at the top of Ward Canyon. After losing control of Alpine Meadows, John Reilly dreamt for more then twenty years, of creating another large ski in/ski out resort in Ward Canyon. The proposal called for ten chairlifts, a golf course and over 4000 homes, but he was never able to get the financial backing or the necessary permits to make it happen. I spent 20 years driving from Tahoe City and taking that first right past Sunnyside to head up to my home on the backside of Alpine Meadows. While enjoying that remote wilderness splendor, I could only thank my lucky stars that not everyone’s dreams come true.
You can pick up your copy online or at the book outlets in the Tahoe/Truckee area.