Ottawa Ski Club / Fortune Ski Club History
• Ottawa Ski Club / Fortune Ski Club
• Excerpts from "Ken Read's White Circus"
• Betsy Clifford
• Ann Heggveit
• Important Dates
The History of Skiing
Although the sport of skiing as we know it is little more than a century old, ethnologists have dated
rock carving of a skier on the Norwegian island of Rodoy as being over 4,000 years old. Skiing was such an
important way of life in Scandinavia that the Vikings worshipped Ull and Skade, the god goddess of skiing.
In the US, skiing as a sport was popularized by gold miners who originally came from Norway and organized
races in their frontier camps and towns. Alpine Skiing consists of four events: downhill, super giant
slalom, giant slalom and slalom.
Slalom challenges skiers to combine maximum speed with maximum maneuverability. Competitors speed down a
twisting course with a vertical drop of 180-220 meters for men and 130-180 meters for women. The length of
the slalom course at Fortune, a local hill where I race, is a 165 meters. The course is marked by single
gates instead of double panel gates like in all the other events. The fastest combined time of two runs wins
Giant slalom racers ski down a longer course with a greater vertical drop (250-500 meters for men and
300-450 meters for women). The fastest combined time of two runs wins the event. Giant slalom is often
refered to as "GS." A GS course is usually around 40-60 seconds long per run.
Super giant slalom is a combination of giant slalom and downhill. The length is less than a downhill but
more than a giant slalom and the times are about 1.5 minutes. The speeds are more controlled in this event.
This is a one-heat event. Men and women race separately. Super giant slalom is sometimes refereed to as
"Super-G." The fastest time wins the event.
At the World Cup level downhillers race on a course approximately 30 meters wide and 1.5 to 2 miles long.
The times for World Cup downhills are around 2 minutes long. It is a one-heat event, and is won with the
fastest time. Racers have been clocked at Whiteface Mountain at over 80 miles per hour. Men and women race
OTTAWA SKI CLUB / FORTUNE SKI CLUB
(Photo circa 1920s)
There have been many changes since the Ottawa Ski Club was first formed in 1910. The Club originally
focused on jumping. The first primitive jump tower was built at 'Suicide Hill', Rockcliffe Park. The Club's
activities were suspended during World War I and in 1919 the OSC was reorganized and incorporated.
Cross-country racing predominated for more than a decade after the Club's reorganization.1920 marked the
acquisition of Camp Fortune. Trails were cut, lodges were built and the Ottawa Ski Club grew in numbers
becoming the largest ski club in the world with a membership of over 10,000. The focus of the OSC moved
towards the alpine events.
The ski area has seen major changes in management over the years. John Clifford became area manager in
1953, opening many new trails and developing the Skyline and Meech areas. Unfortunately, later under the
management of John Graham, the Ottawa Ski Club went bankrupt. The National Capital Commission purchased Camp
Fortune in 1991 and the area was managed for three years by Jeff White. The Fortune Ski Club was formed in
1991 to carry on the competitive programs at Fortune. In 1994, the Sudermans took over long term management
of Ski Fortune and the area has seen a major revitalization and a return of many skiers.
Ski racing has been a tradition at Fortune. Herbert Marshall,in his book 'History of the Ottawa Ski Club'
states 'The measure of the competitive standing of the OSC is found in the record of its achievements in
divisional, national and international competitions.'
In 1951 the Midget program started with volunteer instructors. Children 6 to 12 participated and a racing
schedule was a prominent part of the program. The Mini Midget program was for 4 and 5 year old children. It
was a 10 week course of 1 hr. sessions. The Midget ski school provided free instruction for 8 consecutive
Saturdays. The children were divided into an A and B class with those attaining A class participating in the
slalom and giant slalom events. The Nordic (jumping and cross-country) events were open to all competitors.
In 1961 the scope of the midget program enlarged to include a school for instructors which was made
available to all clubs in the Gatineau Ski Zone. This school gave technical advise and assistance in the
formation of new schools such as those at Vorlage and Edelweiss. The objective was that each Club should
assume the cost of operating its Midget school in order to ensure free instruction and training for
In 1969, the chief instructor for the Midget School at Camp Fortune, Roland Beaudry, reported attendance
as high as 716 with an average attendance for 8 lessons of 604. The number of instructors averaged 68.
Another important development was the introduction of a new juvenile program. Experience had shown that
the better midgets needed more challenging courses. The Juvenile division was started by John Fripp for
children 13-15 and Dr. Bruce Lang was a major force in its organization.
Herbert Marshall remarks 'One very noticeable result of the Midget Program was a great increase in what
has been called Family Skiing. The eagerness of children to learn to ski and attend classes has brought the
parents with them. Some former enthusiasts took up the sport again and many took it up for the first time.
The very wholesome development of family skiing is now an outstanding feature of activities at Camp
The continued success of this program is due to the many members of the OSC and later the FSC who have
contributed voluntary assistance.
The Nancy Greene program began in 1969 in the Gatineau Ski Zone. The program provided an opportunity for
the younger skiers to start their racing career. In 1971 there were 100 skiers and the numbers grew to over
200 under the guidance of Judy Rawley.
The Ottawa Ski Club has produced over 65 competitors who have gone on to represent Canada in alpine and
nordic events. Some of the more famous names include: John and Harvey Clifford, Art and Andy Tommy, Anne
Heggtveit (1960 Olympic Gold Medalist and World Champion), Betsy Clifford (1970 GS World Champion), Ken Read
(winner of 7 World Cup Downhills) and Horst Bulau (winner of several World Cup Jumping events). Our most
current FSC alumnus to represent Canada is Gillian McFetridge.
Excerpts from KEN READ'S WHITE CIRCUS
'As I learned at Camp Fortune the size of the hill is not the most important element in the
development of a racer. What is important? Skiing must be enjoyed for what it is. An enthusiastic program in
which participants enjoy lots of comraderie and bonhommie, can go a long way towards making up any
shortcommings in vertical drop.'
'They may not have had the mountains of Europe or the North American West, but Camp Fortune and the
Ottawa Ski Club had a structured racing organization which involved hundreds of kids ...... the kids at
Fortune were divided so that no child ever felt at a disadvantage because of his weight. Best of all I got
to know a bunch of kids who loved to bomb down the hill. We built bumps and executed spread-eagles in masses
of 10 to 15 kids. We chased one another everywhere. To test our mettle, we'd schuss slalom, ..... out of
such foolishness are formed the skiers, who become racers and the racers who become champions.'
'The Fortune program was varied. We were not obliged to concentrate solely on Alpine skiing, but we
were involved in a regime which also included ski jumping, slalom, downhill and cross-country.'
'For a time this small club in the Gatineau Hills may have run the best racing system in Canada. It
turned out racers such as Currie Chapman, who now coaches the women's team, and the Clifford sisters, world
champion Betsy, and former national team member, Susan.'
'Mr. Graves* and Mr. Livingstone* (Fred and Doug were always "Mister" to this 10 year old)
were my first real coaches. They encouraged me alot about the rudiments of the sport, but most of all they
made skiing fun. The gratitude of a 10 yr old is fleeting. Their reward for so many weekends with frozen
hands and feet was to see my beaming face and then my back as I took off down the hill.'
*parent volunteers with the OSC
Betsy Clifford followed in the trail of great champion skiers like Nancy Greene, Anne Heggtveit and
Betsy had a phenomenal career. At fourteen she was the youngest competitor at the 1968 Winter Olympics
in Grenoble where Nancy Greene won gold and silver. At sixteen she was the youngest person ever to capture a
World Championship. She was the downhill silver medalist at the 1974 World championships, and placed 12
times in the top tem in World Cup races including two slalom gold medals.
Comments by Ann Heggtveit
on the Ann Heggtveit Cup event held on February 25, 26
and 27, 2005
Les Archives de Radio-Canada;
Dictionary of Athletes and Sports Figures: Ann Heggtveit
The Ann Heggtveit reference article from the English Wikipedia on
Ann Heggtveit, world and 1960 Winter Olympics
1910 - Ottawa Ski Club (OSC) formed
1920 - Acquisition of Camp Fortune
1947 - Skimeister Championship
1955 - Midget program starts
1961 - Juvenile division begins
1969 - Nancy Greene Ski League (NGSL)
1991 - Fortune Ski Club (FSC) formed
1994 - Ski Fortune commences operation
2000 - Fortune Ski Club returns to Ottawa Ski Club name
2014 - Planned partnership with Outdoor soccer mississauga