Snowshoe Thompson is heralded as the father of skiing in the Sierra Mountains. His larger-than-life exploits in the 1800s centered around delivering mail across the mountains on skis. A Reno skier brings the historic icon to life in a slide show fundraiser for the Squaw Valley Institute.
The Norwegian-American, originally named John Albert Thompson, gained fame carrying the mail on skis on a 90-mile route through the Sierras from Placerville, California, to Genoa, Nevada. His gear consisted of short and long skis-some up to 10 feet in length and weighing 25 pounds when wet. His route climbed over Echo Summit by Sierra-at-Tahoe to the edge of Heavenly Valley and then over Luther Pass toward Kirkwood. Kirkwood has traditionally held a cross-country ski race in Snowshoe Thompson's memory.
Don S. Thompson, no relation to Snowshoe, presents the shows. Don adopted the nickname Snoshu when his Nevada ski racing team dubbed him, due to his middle initial, with the honor in the 1950s. The connection fostered his life-long interest in the historic skier. But Snoshu changed the spelling to differentiate himself from the historic Snowshoe Thompson and to fit the name on his license plate.
Snoshu Thompson's 45-minute slide presentations take groups through a visual feast of the original Snowshoe's life. "Reading about him is one thing," Snoshu told OnTheSnow.com. "But seeing it is more dramatic."
More than 80 slides-a combination of historic and contemporary images-comprise the three-part show that walks the audience through what led to Snowshoe skiing the 90-mile mail route across the Sierras for 20 years, his adventures, and his lesser known contributions to history. "The show is a visualization of what he went through in his life and how important he was to the world," said Snoshu.
The Squaw Valley Institute (SVI) is hosting one show scheduled for Nov. 17 at the Cedar House Sport Hotel in Truckee. A $10 donation to SVI is requested at the door. Children and students are admitted free. The no-host bar opens at 6:30 p.m. and the program starts at 7 p.m.
The City of Reno's Recreation Department Senior Center plans to host another show Nov. 18. Genoa also hosts shows in spring. Service groups can schedule shows for $50 by contacting Don Snoshu Thompson by e-mail at email@example.com.
A monument depicting the original Snowshoe Thompson stands outside Boreal's Western SkiSport Museum. Visitors can see the free exhibit about Snowshoe inside Fridays through Sundays during the ski season. Another monument stands in Genoa.
More information. Or call 530-581-4138.